[The following devotional was written by Wildwood Community Church Student Pastor Jonathan Holmes and is a part of our 2014 Advent Devotional Guide.  We will be posting a devotional each day on this blog between November 30 – December 31, 2014.]


Batteries Not Included by Jonathan Holmes

Read:  Ephesians 2:8-9

Picture yourself in a couple of weeks opening your presents and you come to your last one — and you realize that this is your favorite. This is the one you had asked for as you sat on Santa’s lap a few weeks earlier.

After the tearing ceremony is over, you go to open the box and you realize that it says in the smallest unreadable writing, “Batteries not included.” Your parents scramble to no avail and you are left with your favorite new dead toy.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever found yourself so excited for something, but then come to realize it’s not complete? Like you opened a gift, but found out that not everything is included. I am afraid that you have had this same experience with the gift of salvation. That when you received salvation and you started to read Scripture, you came to the interpretation that the gift of salvation has written on the side, “Faith not included.” That we are responsible for the means of our salvation that empowers salvation. Some believe that just like the toy needs batteries to enable it to be alive and moving, we too must supply the faith that enables salvation.

When reading this passage, you get to the end of v. 8 “this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God.” and you have to ask, “What is the this referring to?” This is where a lot of people would emphatically say, “Grace!” but is that  all? The word “this” is not referring to just grace, but rather it is referring to the concept of salvation, which is laid out in the preceding section (Ephesians 2:4-7). The basis of our salvation (grace) and the means of our salvation (faith) is all included in the gift of God.

If you see “Faith not included.” on the side of the gift of salvation, then you believe in a works based salvation. “The gift of salvation is dead… it has no efficacy… it cannot do what it is intended to do, unless you add faith to it.” How can you even consider this? Are you missing the second half of our passage Ephesians 2:9?

We must stop viewing the gift of salvation as not enough. We must stop seeing salvation as a free gift with an asterisk that says “faith not included.” If faith is not given to us by God, then we are surely destined for failure. Sure for a while you might feel like you can buckle your bootstraps and muster up enough faith in Jesus Christ that you can be saved, but sooner or later you will see that you have tried to empower the gospel through your own false works (faith).

Just as the Disciples called Jesus teacher, but obviously did not understand the authority of His teaching (Mark 4:35-41); we too should not call Jesus Savior and not truly understand God’s self-sufficiency in our salvation.

Check the side of the box. It can only say “Faith included!”


  • In what way is faith a gift from God as well?

Advent Prayers

  • Thank God for providing everything for you.
  • Praise the Father for being the gracious provider for your salvation in His Son.

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