The relationship between faith and works is often misunderstood. Some think that salvation is God’s reward for good deeds. If that’s true, then it can’t possibly be a gift. If it were a reward, then heaven would be a place where people might compare notes on what they did to make it through the gates. But Paul is confident in the truth of the gospel. The truth is that salvation is God’s gift through Jesus. Grace and faith make salvation real in us. When we are transformed by grace, then we become His new creation and begin to live out the good works He has planned for us. Works, then, aren’t the cause of salvation; they are its result. To put it another way, works aren’t the means of salvation; they are its presence.
– The voice Commentary