Works and Grace

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.”

As believers in Christ, God has a purpose for each and every one of us. Through His providence, He uses our decisions and efforts to the utmost of His glory; and to this end, the above verse is written.

Faith and works are the source of division among Christian denominations. While some may argue that works are also necessary to secure salvation, Scriptural support is lacking for this premise—yet the importance of good works remains an intrinsic part of our walk with Christ.

Despite having no part in our salvation, we must not minimize works in God’s plan for our lives. In the verses immediately preceding the above verse, Paul makes it clear that we are not saved by works, but by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). What Paul continues in verse 10 is that holy living, through good works, was foreordained by God and that we were created in Christ to bear such good fruit.

God saved us through the work of Christ on the cross—and prepared our works for us. His ordained works can be as individual as we are ourselves. It might be a strenuous activity or a ministry that takes us far away from our loved ones, or it could be lying on a bed of pain and suffering; but every work for every child of God has been prepared and laid out in His eternal plan.

We should also recognize that in completing our good works, worked in us by the Holy Spirit, we are utilizing the greatest weapon against sin in our daily walk. Tied to this is the opportunity for growth in our prayer life. Too often Christians who pray only for self, see only themselves, and worry only over themselves, end up striving hopelessly against sin. When we instead shift our focus to the good works God has laid out for us, we gain a sense of the need to pray for others, because our focus has shifted to others.

While good works won’t keep any of us saved any more than good works saved us in the first place—but performing good works will add so much to our spiritual lives. In fact, it is the good works we perform that helps keep our faith alive (James 2:17). Many believe James is contradicting Paul here, but that is not the case. James is simply stating that if our faith is true, then works will be a natural outcome of such a faith.

Take comfort in how we do not have to blaze our own pathway through life; we can simply follow God’s plan for our life one day at a time. To do this, however, we must develop the ability to listen to Him—and this can only be accomplished through consistent, quiet time spent meditating on His Word.

Seek God first in all things (Matthew 6:33) and let it carry you in the works you do. In doing so, we can become the light He wants us to be; a light so desperately needed in an ever-increasing darkness.