“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 NKJV).
Salvation is purely by grace alone through faith alone in Christ. Salvation is absolutely a free gift from God to all mankind. It cannot be earned or merited by any kind of performance or good work.
The Scripture clearly states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9 NKJV).
“And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.” (Rom. 11:6 NKJV).
We contributed absolutely nothing to our salvation. Christ is the author and finisher of our salvation (Heb. 2:10, 12:2). Christ is the one who worked and paid for our salvation by His incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection.
God expects and demands no work, contribution or input from us for our salvation!
Paul explains, “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.” (Rom. 4:4-5 NKJV).
Our salvation is not a reward or wages we deserve but a gracious gift we don’t deserve. We are simply the recipients or beneficiaries of the salvation Christ worked and paid for with His precious blood.
Christ’s redemptive work is a finished and perfect work! There is absolutely nothing left to be done or to be added to it.
Apostle Paul affirms this truth in Titus 3:
4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,
5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,
6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (NKJV).
Also in Galatians 2:
16 “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (NKJV).
Although the Scripture clearly presents salvation as a pure gift from God and not a reward or wages of our good works, yet it establishes good works as a fruit, evidence, or result of salvation.
The Scripture clearly teaches that saving faith is not alone; it is always accompanied by good works. Faith is revealed by good works!
17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble!
20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? (NKJV).
The New Testament believers are not saved, recreated or born-again by good works, but purely by faith in Christ and His finished work. However, the believers are saved, recreated or born-again in Christ for good works.
Apostle Paul aptly presents this truth in Ephesians 2:
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (NKJV).
Also in Titus 2:
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (NKJV).
Apostle Paul further instructs Titus in Titus 3, saying,
1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work,
2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men…
8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men. (NKJV).
If good works are not necessary for our salvation, why then should the born-again believers become zealous for good works, be ready for every good work, or be careful to maintain good works?
Is it to earn God’s love, acceptance, approval, favour or blessing as many people think, preach or teach today? Absolutely not! Why?
Because the born-again believers are no longer under the Law or the Old Covenant!
Under the Old Covenant God’s dealings with men were based on their performance or good works. God’s blessings were contingent upon the performance or good works of the people. God cut the Old Covenant with the children of Israel on their words or promises to do, perform, or obey all the words God had commanded them.
The Old Covenant was simply a performance-based or work-based covenant!
The Scripture records in Exodus 19:
7 So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the LORD commanded him.
8 Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” So Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD. (NKJV).
Also in Exodus 24:
3 So Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the LORD has said we will do.”
7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.”
8 And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.” (NKJV).
On the contrary, the New Covenant was established upon better promises, not men’s promises, but God’s promises. Unlike the Old Covenant, the New Covenant was not men-based, but God-based; it was not a performance or work-based covenant, but a faith-based covenant.
The Scripture explains this truth in Hebrews 8:
6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.
8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah–
9 “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD.
10 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
11 “None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.
12 “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (NKJV).
As seen in the above scripture and many other scriptures (Jer. 31:31-34, 32:37-42, Eze. 36:20-36), under the New Covenant, God is the one who promised to do, keep, perform and fulfil the words the Covenant.
God’s dealings with the New Covenant believers are not contingent upon their performance or good works, but on their faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Why?
Because the New Covenant is not work-based, but faith-based!
Your good works don’t earn you God’s love, acceptance, approval, favour or blessings under the New Covenant!
Beloved, as a New Covenant believer, you don’t need to impress, influence, or woo God to love, accept, approve, favour or bless you by your performance, good or religious works because God has completely and eternally loved, accepted, approved, favoured and blessed you in Christ Jesus (Jer. 31:3, Eph. 1:6).
Why then should you be zealous for good works, be ready for every good work, or be careful to maintain good works?
Find out in the second part of this piece!
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for creating me in Christ Jesus for good works. Dear Holy Spirit, help and teach me to purify my motives for doing good works, so that I may do good works out of a pure motive, in Jesus’ name. Amen.