For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NRSV)
I memorized Ephesians 2:8-9 as a child in one the numerous midweek church programs I attended. And I find it interesting that my memorization neglected verse 10. It continues an important thought and duty in the journey of Christian faith.
Faith and works. They cannot be separated from each other. If a person has faith, it is shown in their works. If they do works, there must be faith inside. The difference for those who express a Christian faith in the terminology of being saved is that the works did not make them righteousness before Jesus. I always thought verses 8 and 9 were an excuse to get out of works. and that’s why I think I never trully followed up on the context of the verse that continues “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”
I now see works informed by faith as God’s justice being enabled in the earth. and this may be the answer to the age-old question: why does God allow suffering to continue in this world? God doesn’t allow suffering to continue, but we do when we don’t live according to faith and what is to be our way of life. I think God is asking the question a different way: why do the faithful ignore the suffering? why aren’t they they working to lessen the suffering?
ephesians’ discussion on being saved by faith, not works in the end becomes very complimentary to James’ discussion on faith and works. we like to separate the two, when they cannot be separated. Faith and works are mutually exclusive. You cannot have one without the other.
Tell me a story of how faith led you to good works.