The Future Is As Bright As The Promises Of God

Archive for July 23, 2014

Created For Good Works

“For by grace have you been saved through faith; and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as 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 so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB)
If it is true that we are saved by grace, chosen, adopted, blessed by God, not because of what we have done but in spite of what we have done, then why not do anything we please? Why should people take all the trouble to be good if God is going to save them, forgive them, love them anyway?
That question is not explicitly raised in these verses from Ephesians, but it is at least implicit in what Paul says about the love and grace of God.
If the whole story of being a Christian were told in Ephesians 2:8-9, we might well assume that Christians are those who merely hear God’s word of grace in Jesus Christ and then simply sit back and enjoy it. But Paul continues from his opening declaration, “By grace you have been saved…not as a result of works.”
We are saved by God, not for smug, conceited self-righteousness. In fact, God’s grace undercuts any cause for self-righteousness or boasting, as Paul says. We are saved “for good works” (2:10).
We don’t love the poor, feed the hungry, work for justice, pray, give in order to be loved by God. We do these good works because we are loved by God.
I think of it through this analogy. A young man is married to a young woman. He thinks to himself, “I must work had to earn her trust; I must be caring, faithful, and kind so that she will love me.” But the longer the man is married, the more he learns that true marriage is not that way at all. He realizes that he is yoked to one who has given herself totally to him, without conditions, “for better or worse, for richer, for poorer.” He is overwhelmed by her trust of him, deeply humbled that anyone should love him so much, believe in him so deeply.
He finds, to his surprise, that he is a caring, faithful, and kind person. Her love has transformed him. His fidelity to her is not some achievement of his, not something which he tries hard to accomplish. His fidelity is simply his grateful, spontaneous response to her love.
Do you see this as a parallel of our relationship to God? We are God’s “workmanship”, people who have been recreated by God’s love. We who have been the grateful recipients of His good works become those who do good works. Our lives and deeds are but a response, a sort of hymn of thanksgiving, to what God has done to us and for us.

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