Saved for good works

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

-Ephesians 2:8-10

Many think that verses 8 and 9 form the climax of this paragraph (verses 1-10), so much so that verse 10 is seldom quoted. This is a sad omission, because I believe that verse 10 – “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” – completes the thought begun in verses 8-9. Without verse 10, we have an incomplete view of the place of good works.

If we focus on verses 8-9 while excluding verse 10, we may come to the erroneous conclusion that there is to be no consideration of good works in the salvation experience. But what part do good works play? While 8-9 clearly show that good works have no place in a person becoming saved, verse 10 just as clearly show that these works are a necessary part of the life of the believer after being saved.

It would be a grave error to assume that because we are saved by grace through faith (not works), that good works are optional to a believer. This verse makes this impossible. The same God who saves by grace those who believe is the same God who purposes and prepares good works for those who are his creation in Christ. To divorce our position in justification from our daily walk in sanctification as if one can be reality and the other optional is to do disservice to this and many other passages of Scripture (Romans 6:1ff; James 2:14ff to name a couple). To be sure, our practice of these good works is imperfect in this life, but a life with no works is not a true, redeemed Christian life. Faith without works is dead (James 2:26).

-excerpt from my upcoming book on reading Scripture theologically, title TBD