Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as 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 so that we would walk in them.
Our memory verses this week are proclaiming the work of Jesus to gift us with salvation and the purpose for which we are gifted grace. Paul begins Ephesians chapter two reminding us of who we were: sinners, dead in our trespasses following the course of this world and the prince of this world (Satan), we walked in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of our mind as children of wrath. We are saved by faith alone, not because of any works. What’s more faith itself is a gift. “Grace flows through the channel of faith, but the channel itself is of God’s construction.”
Jesus Christ died for us. He bore our sin and punishment upon the cross. When we believe, really believe, that Jesus Christ died for us, God does a wonderful thing. God takes our faith and counts it as the death of Jesus Christ for us. That is, when we honor God’s dear Son by believing in Him so much that we give all we are and have to Him, God takes the death of Jesus Christ and applies it to us.
Boasting is actually a basic part of Paul’s theology. We saw this a few weeks ago in a blog on Romans 3:27-28. Much of his concern is to make sure that praise goes only to God. He seeks to destroy any conceivable ground for human beings boasting in themselves. Humanity is left with every mouth silenced and no claim or defense before God. The only legitimate boasting is in what God has done, a theology Paul adopted from Jeremiah 9:24 and quoted in 1 Corinthians 1:31. “Works righteousness” is not a problem the letter addresses, but Paul cannot speak of salvation without excluding the possibility of personal boasting.
We are created to do good works. God saves man for good works not by good works. The believer is God’s “workmanship”, God’s work of art, God’s masterpiece. God fashions man and creates a masterpiece. God’s workmanship is always a work of art. The believer does not create the beauty, the art that shows in the canvas of his life. The believer just shows that he is God’s workmanship by the life he lives and displays. Works are an evidence of salvation. Those who walk in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1-2) show that they are not God’s workmanship no matter what profession they make. God’s people give ample evidence of the power of a new life which operates in them.
Good works are not the root of our redemption, but they are the necessary fruit. Since God has prepared good deeds beforehand, we must consider how and where we will walk today in order to fulfill his eternal purposes for us in Christ.