Good Works

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

While we know works are not a part of our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9), we also must realize that a faith that does not produce good works is a faith in need of examination (James 2:17-18; Galatians 5:22-23). God has a purpose for each of us. Through His power and patience—longsuffering patience for most of us—we produce the fruit He has called us to perform.

The Apostle Paul was clear in his denunciation that works have anything to do with our salvation, and it is commonly misinterpreted that what James writes in his epistle is in contradiction to Paul’s teachings. This just isn’t so.

James’ position is that anyone who has genuine faith will naturally produce a life transformed and works are the consequential by-product of such faith. In essence, James is calling out those who merely profess faith, but do not show any evidence of a life changed. Paul also recognizes that faith will produce good works when he wrote about the fruit of the Spirit in the Galatians reference above. So there is no disagreement between the two, but merely two different approaches, or perspectives, on the same subject.

We must also remember that Paul and James were a major part of the Jerusalem Council meeting (Acts 15) where there was agreement on a single unifying message of whether Gentiles needed to be circumcised (a form of works), in which James, Peter, Paul and others agreed that this was not necessary. Prior to this, Paul had time to describe his ministry to the Gentiles to the Jerusalem church elders, of which James was most prominent (Acts 15:12). There is certainly no record of discord between the two.

In our study verse above, it is important to understand that while works will not save us, we are created in Christ for the purpose of good works and therefore should not minimize this calling on our lives. We cannot simply rest in the grace given to us.

Further, notice we have been ordained into good works through His preparation for us. Our purpose in this life is to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and to live a life producing the Fruit of the Spirit in every single interaction with one another, every single day of our earthly existence.

This is not only for the benefit for reaching the lost, but also for ourselves as a weapon against the spiritual darkness that invades this earth and its inhabitants. The prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) is waiting to draw you back in and weaken your witness, and by walking in works ordained by God we can enjoy the freedom that comes from being His child.

Pray that God shows you the path He has for you; trust in Him that His ways are better than yours. Your salvation is secured by His grace; now put your salvation to work.