“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. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:8-10
The Apostle Paul spends a lot of time talking about faith and works. He wants to make clarify their relationship for us. This is more than a theological soapbox for Paul. For the apostle, it’s an essential tenant for understanding our relationship to God. Paul wants us to see that we, and all of humanity, are 100% dependent on God and on God’s grace.
Faith and works are often spoken of in faith conversations as though they exist in opposition to one another. Are we saved by faith or by works? While this question oversimplifies the centuries old discussion about the nature of salvation, it does help us wrap our minds around the topic with a simple either/or. Yet Paul, wants us to see that these two ideas are unified by a much greater truth, grace.
The grace of God is what saves us.
The grace of God enables our faith. The grace of God enables our work.
The service work we’re involved in. The random acts of kindness we engage in. The advocacy and peace-making efforts we make. All the good work we have an opportunity to is made possible by the grace of God. Our wonderful work, and the offerings we extend as a response to the grace to the grace we have received as they themselves just that, grace!
Faith and works are not oppositional forces vying for primacy. They are different kinds of flowers growing from the same fertile ground of grace. There is a lot that grows from the rich soil of grace. Sometimes, we misunderstand God’s gifts of grace when it appears in our life. We may label it a bother, an inconvenience, or a pain only to, hopefully, discover later that it was actually a grace. Paul speaks about this 2 Corinthians 12.
“There was given me a thorn in my flesh…Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But God said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
Maybe today you feel a surge of faith that God is with you. Praise God for grace.
Maybe today there is a task, a work set before you. Praise God for grace.
Maybe today there is a struggle you have yet to fully understand. Praise God for grace.
Grace has saved. Grace will sustain you. God’s grace is sufficient for you.