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
God’s grace is a gift, God’s grace is free, God’s grace is not the result of works, and none of these statements contradict the fact that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
So many times when we here that God has saved us and “this is not your own doing,” we begin to think God relates to us solely through gift giving. But the simple, paradigm shifting reality of the Bible is that God’s gifts do not contradict his command for our works; his gifts empower us for works.
The gospel may have cost us nothing, but when we receive it, we will give up everything in response.
Ephesians 2:8 clearly explains that we have done nothing to deserve or earn anything good from God. It’s all by grace, so that no one can boast. But then Ephesians 2:10 seems to fly in the face of the theme of the passage since the emphasis suddenly turns to works. If you read either of these verses out of context you lose the importance and life changing truth they express together.
God saves us “by grace” “through faith”, and he saved us “for good works.” Notice the “For” in the beginning of verse 10. This means that God is seeking to link these two ideas together. God’s grace and the Christian’s good deeds are not at odds with one another, they do not contradict each other. Just like love and marriage, you can’t have one without the other.
If your theology only makes room for grace, the grace you understand is not biblical. And if your theology, does not make room for the importance of the Christian’s works, your theology is not biblical. Biblical grace and works always come in a package together, delivered to your mailbox through faith.
James 2:17-18 explains, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” Grace is the gift of God that we don’t deserve, like billion dollar check we did not earn. Faith is man’s belief in God’s grace, his one part to play (though itself is a gift, Romans 12:3) required to “cash” the free check. And works is the result of truly receiving God’s grace through faith. If you claim to have God’s grace through faith, works will be evident; just as if you claimed to cash a billion dollar check freely given to you, your excessive amounts of money would be the evidence that you truly cashed the check.
If there is no money in your bank account, it means you didn’t really cash the free check. And if there are no good works in your life “which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” it means we really never put our faith in Jesus to receive his free grace.
Grace, faith, and works must all combine together if God’s gift is to be experienced and received. If there is an endless amount of money just waiting to be cashed, the only limit would be our ability to cash in. Likewise, since God’s grace is endless, the more faith we have, the more works will be present.
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them . . . in proportion to our faith . . . –Romans 12:6