Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What Good Works Are Good For

Turning Point devotion: What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? James 2:14

Scripture memory is an important discipline in the Christian life. If there is a downside to memorizing one verse at a time, it is that important verses lose their context. For instance, Romans 8:28 needs verse 29 for its full effect. And Ephesians 2:8-9 (how we are saved) needs verse 10 (why we are saved) to get the full import of Paul's message and meaning.

Ephesians 2:8-9 are well-known verses that establish the truth that we are saved "by grace . . . through faith." And it makes clear that our salvation is "not of works, lest anyone should boast." But then verse 10 makes it just as clear that we are "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." So, we are not saved by good works, but we are definitely saved for good works. We are saved so we can carry out those acts and deeds that fulfill the purpose for our salvation: continuing the kingdom works that Jesus did in the image of Christ himself (Romans 8:29).

Sometimes Christians are confused about good works—but we shouldn't be. They are the evidence, not the basis, of the believer's salvation.

We must come to good works by faith, and not to faith by good works.
William Gurnall

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