“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV).
At a quick glance, verse 10 seems to be at odds with verses 8 & 9. We are saved through faith and not works, but for works? But is it really contradictory?
It has been said often and loudly that we are saved by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:8 gets a lot of attention, especially when evangelizing. And it rightfully deserves that attention. But there is certainly more to the Christian life than salvation.
Verse 10 begins to give us a picture of that life. God created us to be in Christ Jesus (salvation) so that we could (and would!) do good works. Apart from a relationship with Jesus we can’t do good works; we can only sin. That sounds harsh, but that’s what Paul said in Romans 14:23b, “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (ESV). That means that before we came to faith in Jesus, even the “good” things we did were sinful! We were being held to a standard that only One could ever meet.
But when we came to faith, we were set free from the Law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). That meant that for the first time we had the freedom not to sin! We were finally free to do the good works that we were created to walk in.
So, what if we accept the salvation but choose to abstain from the good works? “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works” (James 2:14,21-22).
We don’t do the works to be saved, we do them because we are saved. Our works are an outflow of the Spirit’s work within us! When we reach out our hands to help someone in need, it’s as if God Himself is reaching out His hands. When we speak a word in due season, it is as if God Himself is speaking.
How cool is that?!?!
It is time for us, the Church, to step up and be His hands and feet. It begins with me; and it begins with you.