A couple of days ago I wrote concerning the tension between grace/faith and works. We created that tension. It shouldn't exist. It didn't exist for apostle Paul. He is the one who had the great revelation of the gospel of grace. He was the promoter and defender of this revelation. Yet, he was able to speak of grace and works in the same breath.
Of course I am not speaking of earning our salvation and I wrote very clearly about this a couple of days ago. Our salvation is by God's grace alone. This grace is by faith and even this faith God gives to us. If you missed this then go back and read it before we progress.
Re-read the passage for me and take note of how easily Paul speaks of grace and works together:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Salvation by grace not by works and yet we have been created in Christ Jesus to do good works. This is the part that concerns me. Everyone is so hyper sensitive about making sure that the world understands we can't earn our salvation that we back away from the good works. But we can't back away because God has prepared these good works for us in advance.
We have not been saved and left here to become philosophisers but doers. We are not "doing" for our salvation, to get in good with God, but in obedience to the love he has drowned us in. We do not "do" to have a relationship with Jesus but because of the relationship with Jesus. The "created" part comes first followed by the good works. If we get it backwards we are in trouble, but this does not mean we back away from it. We just need to make sure we have it in the right order. Now note a couple of things here.
First, we are God's workmanship. We are the result of his fine work. He did all of this, not us. We could not provide even the faith that was required. When I came to Jesus it was a result of a brief moment when God flooded me with faith to see and believe. All I did was accept the truth, fall on my face in repentance, and receive what was being offered to me. The moment before I had no faith and could not see. One hundred percent of my salvation belongs to God and I am here today as a result of his work.
The second thing to note is that we have been created in Jesus. I think we sometimes forget that the old us has passed away. We died and have been raised in Jesus. We died and became a new creation. We have been created in Jesus for God's purpose. We do not belong to ourself and every selfish notion that we have is foreign to what God created us to be. Let go of what you were and embrace what God has created.
Now he has not created you to sit around. You have been created to do good works. Not just any good works but the good works he has prepared in advance for you to do. How do you know what they are? Easy, they are whatever he brings to your attention. If you see the struggling mom on the bus then he has given you the job of helping her. If you notice the overgrown lawn of your neighbour then he has given you the task of lending a hand. If someone's financial need is brought to your attention then you are the one tagged to do something about it. If you know of a neighbour who is gravely ill you are to go to them and pray healing. If you come across someone possessed by the spirit of drugs then it is you who must cast out that demon.
He equips us for these good works. He will give you back whatever energy you need to put into it. Whatever time is used he will make sure is blessed. Whatever resources you need to use he will replenish. Never think that you can out give God. It is his plan to glorify himself through you, through the good works he has planned in advance for you to do. Don't be shy about it, rise up and take your place. It is your purpose.
We are a bunch of "do gooders" and we should be happy for it. Doing good, not for our salvation but in obedience to love. Jesus told us that we have freely received so we must freely give. As we have been loved we must also love. As we have been forgiven we must also forgive. Let's be that Army of love, do the good works we have been given to do, allow God to be glorified through us, and watch as the Spirit convicts the hearts of people through our actions.