The Gospel and Good Works
For those who’ve grown up in the “moral Midwest,” you’ve likely encountered the gospel of “good works.” This false teaching seems to be rooted deeper than the giant cottonwood trees and to have spread broader than the thistles that grow here. The good works gospel states that if you do good things, you will earn favor with God and by these merits earn a spot in heaven. This is in direct contradiction to our verses of meditation for today found in Ephesian 2:8-9—“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
I was personally saved from my misleading meritorious theology when I heard the truth of Ephesians 2:8-9 proclaimed. It’s not about what we do, it’s what Jesus has accomplished on the cross. To Christ be all the glory as our salvation “is the gift of God.”
Watch out, however, because the “gospel of good works” tries to creep back into our lives in such forms as thinking God’s love for us is conditional, believing we are superior to others, or by placing conditions on our love for others, making our relationships transactional.
These two verses are so loaded with content; perhaps that’s why the next verse often goes overlooked. Salvation through Christ is great news, but there is more! God had more in mind than just saving you!
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
This verse tells us that God, in his thoughtfulness, has big plans for his redeemed. We often forget that we are no longer identified as “sinners” but rather as “saints.” We are God’s handiwork, adopted children who are invited to participate in our Fathers work. 2 Cor 5:17 declares that “if anyone is in Christ, he’s a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come!” Furthermore, we’ve been given the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to live within us. Satan would love nothing more than to have us forget our true identity, and thus continue living in our old sinful nature.
We aren’t saved by our works, but because we are saved we can get to work. Today I want to rightly reflect on the fullness of my identity found here. I have to especially trust verse 10 that God in His graciousness has prepared in advance good works in which I am to walk. My prayer is that God would give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and the faith to take action.