When I was a kid I memorized a lot of Bible verses as part of a Sunday school promotion. Whichever one of us memorized the most verses won a bicycle. Regardless of the motivation, I memorized a lot of Bible verse. One of those was Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (What can I say, we memorized in King James!)
I wish we would have kept going and memorized verse 10 – “For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Just imagine. We were “created for good works.” Most of the churches I grew up in were “good works phobic.” We spent so much time making sure that we knew we couldn’t earn our salvation that we never talked about good works. Later, in college and seminary, along comes this guy John Wesley. In him I found this wonderful harmony between good works and salvation by grace that I had never heard before. And then (“wonder of wonders”) I discover that John Wesley didn’t think of this idea on his own – it was an idea that he borrowed from Jesus himself.
Think about it; we are reconciled to God in Jesus Christ. No doubt about it. We can’t work for it, earn it, or attain it on our own. But we were also created for good works. God planned for us to do them ahead of time. Our works aren’t meant to show how good we are, but how good God is. They aren’t what get us into the Kingdom of God; they’re supposed to be the things that show others the entrance into the Kingdom of God.
Has anyone else’s life changed because your life has changed because of Jesus?
“In most churches we’re not only saved by grace, we’re paralyzed by it. We’re afraid to do anything that might be a “work.” The funny thing is we will preach to people for an hour that they can’t do anything to be saved, and then sing to them for a half an hour trying to get them to do something. This is confusing. People need to see that action is a receptacle for grace, not a substitute for it. Grace is God acting in our lives to do things we can’t do on our own. Grace is not opposed to effort; grace is opposed to earning.” – Dallas Willard.