Posted April 07, 2014
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.
Over the last four weeks, we’ve been memorizing Ephesians 2:1-10. This week is our last week as we cover verses 8-10. Verses 8-9 seem to provide a bare bones summary of God’s work done for us in the gospel, while verse 10 points to the trajectory that a life changed by the gospel takes on.
The first sentence gives us three key words that speak of God’s work: grace, saved, and faith. Verses 1-3 depict humanity as dead, undeserving, and in desperate need of saving. And yet instead of justice, we’re met with grace. Grace has to do with God’s undeserved favor shown toward us in extending His salvation through Christ. Salvation has to do with rescuing those deserving of wrath. Faith has less to do with a work done by us (“not a result of works”) that show us to be somehow more worthy of salvation. Rather, biblical faith is marked by a deep trust in God’s work for us in Christ! How do we receive this gift of grace? Through faith. Where other religions say, “Do this”, Christianity trumpets “It is done!” through Christ.
Our story doesn’t end there! God’s gracious work of salvation through faith births something in the hearts of this rescued people… As noted in “The Gospel Transformation Bible”, “Faith alone justifies, but, the Reformers would say, the faith that justifies is never alone. Good works are not the root of our redemption, but they are the necessary fruit. If 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.” God’s indicatives (things He’s done) lead to our imperatives (things He’s calling us to do in response). When we get these backwards is when we misunderstand the gospel itself; just read the book of Galatians. May the birthing ground of our works for God always arise from soil of Christ’s work for us in the gospel!
We’ll conclude our memorization of Ephesians 2:1-10 with two verses from Augustus Toplady’s hymn “Rock of Ages”:
Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law's commands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.
Song by James Coe (feat. Kara Lee, Josh Smith & Dustin Ragland).
Artwork by Tyler Evans.