8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
We are saved by God’s grace, and not by anything we do (2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 3:5). Grace is unmerited favor. We are saved by God’s grace through faith. It is not of ourselves, it is a gift from God! Where does a man get the faith to believe in Christ? Faith is that to which Paul is referring when he wrote it is the gift of God. God uses faith to save those He chose in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).
When Arminians claim that a man must believe before God saves they are turning God’s grace on its head (Isaiah 29:16). They are inserting man into something that is ALL God! If a man must believe before he is saved, God’s grace is no longer unmerited favor. There is a prerequisite for it. It is a perfect example of what Paul was telling the Ephesians - it is a work of the flesh! ANYTHING a man does before God saves is “of ourselves.” It is a work of the flesh.
Arminians will claim that believing is not a “work.” The problem is that it is still an accomplishment of the flesh and we already know what Paul told the Romans about that - they that are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:8). A lost man has nothing but his flesh since his spirit is dead (Ephesians 2:1, 2:5; Colossians 2:13) and salvational belief is of the spirit, not the flesh.
What follows is the definition of the Greek word ergon (Strong’s G4021), the word translated to “works” in verse 9 (Not of works,...):
1) business, employment, that which any one is occupied
a) that which one undertakes to do, enterprise, undertaking
2) any product whatever, any thing accomplished by hand, art, industry, or mind
3) an act, deed, thing done: the idea of working is emphasized in opposition to that which is less than work
So you see, belief is a thing accomplished in the mind and therefore it is a work, and thus is not the cause of salvation - it is the RESULT of salvation. A lost man “believing in Jesus” is believing in vain (1 Corinthians 15:2). Why? Because his spirit is dead and his belief is solely of the flesh. Only a saved man can believe in his spirit.
A man is saved by grace through faith, the faith that God gives him (Romans 12:3; Ephesians 2:8). God then gives him belief (John 6:29; Philippians 1:29), and repentance (2 Timothy 2:25). That man WILL now come to Jesus (John 6:37) and Jesus WILL raise him up (John 6:44).