Ephesians 2:10. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 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 offers us what may be the clearest and most succinct summation of the life of the Christian in all of the Bible – Grace. Faith. Works. In that order.
Why must the Christian life begin with grace? Because every human life begins with “your dead” (see Ephesians 2:1). A dead person cannot save themselves. God’s salvation must begin with God’s grace. Even faith is only possible because God has done something that demands a response. God is the primary agent. He is the first mover. He is the initiator.
What about now that we’re already saved? Do we still need grace? Yes! Look closely at verse 10. Even the good works that we walk in as Christians are prepared beforehand by God. And why? Because we are his workmanship. The entirety of our lives is grace. It’s all his work. The same grace that saved us is saving us. The same grace that made us alive has revealed to us our good works. We can only do a good work because first we are his good work. It’s all from grace.
Faith doesn’t save us, grace does. We are not saved by the worthiness of our faith, but by the worthiness of the One in whom we place our faith. Faith is always a response to grace. As Paul says in Romans, faith comes by hearing the word of God. God speaks, then we believe.
Faith is not something we do. That is, it is not a work of the law or a work of righteousness. Paul makes this perfectly clear – this is not your own doing…not a result of works. This is why there is little talk in scripture about the amount of our faith and much more talk about the object of our faith.
Faith is a transfer of trust. It is placing all of my hope and confidence in the person and work of Jesus alone and my union with him. It is the reception of God’s grace found in Christ.
Faith is dependency. It is admitting that we need Jesus to rescue us, yesterday, today, forever. And this is why life in Christ will forever be one of faith. We never graduate past our need for grace. And we never graduate past faith as the means to receiving that grace.
Now here is where so many of us get tripped up. The line is fuzzy between not a result of works and created in Christ Jesus for good works.
But here’s the difference – created in Christ Jesus.
Usually as Christians we ask the question “what are the good works Jesus wants ME to do?” But this fails to find Christ’s life as the source of our good works. Instead it’s an attempt to live up to some list that we think Jesus has created for us. A new law if you will.
Rather we should ask “what good works does Jesus want to do today?” Which, because we are in Christ, is the same thing as asking “what good works do I want to do today?”
Jesus lived his earthly life by doing good. What God wanted him to do and what he wanted to do were the same thing. Take his death for example. Did God want Jesus to go to the cross for us? Yes. But did Jesus also want to go to the cross for us? Yes. He laid down his life freely and willingly. The good work that God wanted him to do, and the good work that he wanted to do were the same good work.
So was Jesus looking for a daily to-do list of the good works that he was supposed to accomplish that day? No. He simply “went around doing good” (Acts 10:38). He lived his life as an expression of God’s grace. He was Gods workmanship. Just like us.
And every good work he did pointed forward to the cross. Just like every good work we do points backward to the cross. Every act of kindness. Every response of love. Every movement of grace. When these are done from faith in what Christ has already done, they become the workmanship, the masterpiece, of God’s new creation.
“To live is Christ” is to live by grace through faith unto good works. In that order. Any other way is not the life of Christ in us. When Christ’s good works flow effortlessly from our simple unstated faith in the gracious love of our Savior… that’s God’s workmanship. His work of art. His glory.
Are your good works flowing from grace through faith? How can you tell?
You in Christ
You in Christ (grace) produces Christ in you (good works from faith). Why is this order so important? What happens when we get it backwards?
Christ in you
Will your life be God’s work of art today?
Playlist: Grace, Faith, Works.