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.
Having just read Charles Spurgeon’s sermon entitled All Of Grace I felt extremely humbled by the understanding that all of our salvation comes from God. We are saved with God’s salvation given by God’s grace and received by faith in Jesus Christ. But even that faith is a gift given by God and not made up or reliant on our own works or even our own beliefs.
Think about that for a moment; if God has given you faith in Jesus Christ unto his salvation then whether you’re a creationist or evolutionist, whether you hold to post millennial or pre millennial eschatology then no matter if you’re right or wrong you are saved!
The amount of money you put in collection each week, the amount of time you spend in your quiet time. The work you do for the church and for others, none of it will get you closer to salvation.
As Spurgeon himself puts it from Romans 11:6
If by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Grace demands the freely given gift. If we had to do something, anything at all to receive that grace and the gift it gives then it is no longer a gift given by grace but a wage earned and due. Would (or could) we demand that God must give us his own salvation that was bought at the cost of Jesus blood because of our own works or beliefs? No! God himself must choose, in his own unique wisdom and understanding, the recipients of his own grace, otherwise he would not be God.
Ephesians 2:10 says that we were created in Christ Jesus to do these good works, and check this out; even those works were prepared by God for us to do! We have a salvation entirely of God in which he leads us to do those good works that are equally entirely of him!
What I’ve seen in the way people actually live though (myself included) is putting the cart load of good works and beliefs before the workhorse of God’s salvation by Grace through God’s gift of Faith.
We may hold to the theology of Ephesians 2:8-10 but how does that theology manifest itself in our lives? Herein lies the challenge of Christian living; to live like kingdom people in the world. To be clear that the works and even beliefs that we do and have are subject to the saving faith that God has freely given us in his grace and not the other way around.
How do we do that? By following the best and only example laid down for us. The life and works of Jesus recorded in the gospels contain the attitude and drive that we should seek to emulate. What we find is a life driven by the goal of first giving glory to God then showing his love to everyone else, not to curry favour with God or people but because of God’s gift of salvation by grace through faith.