“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that (faith) is not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9)
Just as there are levels of fellowship there are levels of grace. The first level is saving grace. The verse above clearly states that we are saved by the grace of God and not by our works. Even the faith by which we believe that good news is the gift of God to us. Not one of us, therefore, can boast about our salvation as if we had something to do with it.
The apostle writes in the next verse that we are saved for good works. In his other writings he makes it clear that works validate our faith and so works are important. But if we hold up our works to God and ask Him to save us on the basis of those good works, the Prophet Isaiah tells us they would be as filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6.)
Millions of people believe they are saved by good works. If you ask people how they know that if they died today they would go to heaven, a large majority would say something like, “I hope so” or “I’m doing my best.” If they would think about it they should ask themselves how many good works are enough to save them. Those who believe they are saved by good works are almost never sure of their salvation.
The first level of grace assures us of our salvation because salvation by grace is not a matter of our good works. What matters is the good work of Jesus Christ when He died on the cross for us.