Our church is getting ready to start a journey through the book of Ephesians. As I’ve been diving into the book the last few weeks, there has been a particular passage that has captured my imagination:
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 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 2:6-10
In particular, I love Paul’s words at the end of verse ten: we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
As I study this passage, I see not only the deep pastoral heart of Paul, but the challenge that he lays before us. Paul writes about the good works to which we have have been called.
But what I notice is that we often reduce this to something Paul never had in mind:
in short, we determine that Paul was writing about morality. We assume that ‘good works’ is equal to being ‘a good person’.
But the way that Paul writes about good works makes it about so much more. Paul writes about good works in two specific directions: worship to God and evangelism to others. When Paul talks about coming alive in Christ (the first part of chapter two), he says that in this new life we have one goal: good works.
Jesus would say it this way: Love God, Love others.
Paul’s words are the exact same.
The point of doing good works is not to be a more moral person, it is to bring honor to God, and create a desire in others to want to know more. Good works are designed to be an open door towards sharing your faith and life in Christ. What Paul encourages is not morality, it is radical love and devotion to God. What Paul desires for the Ephesian churches is not moral superiority but a heart shaped by grace that serves others so that they might experience that grace as well.
So what about you? Are you guilty of reducing this passage to morality? How do you think you could counter it? Name one way (and share below) how you can commit to entering into a relationship with someone for the sake of worshipping God and drawing them into relationship with him.