“I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it. God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing” (Eph. 2:8-10, NCV).
Let’s see, what do we have here… God did the planning. God did the making. God did the saving. Hm, looks like He gets all the credit… for everything. Including for the good works that He foreordained for us to walk in. It’s all on Him. *Deep breath in.* The pressure is off! No, I am not saying that the responsibility is off. We are indeed called to walk faithfully in these good works. However, the pressure is off, as we step forward into them. Why so? Because all of it, all of it, absolutely all of it… is by grace!
The same grace that saved you and me is the same grace that will empower us to walk in these good works He has in mind. Grace is the power that invaded your spiritually dead inner person and raised it to life with Jesus Christ. Grace is the power that flowed through the Master Craftsman’s hands as He brought you forth, His workmanship, His masterpiece, His poetry. And grace is the power that will continue to flow through your life as you yield yourself to His call unto good works.
Romans 11:35-36 expresses this well: “Who has ever given to God…? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (NIV). Paul infers here that no one has really ever contributed anything to God. This does not mean that the offering of your heart and life to God is not precious to Him. It is… exceedingly. What it does mean is that everything that you and I do “for” Him is actually from Him and through Him… from His grace and through His grace… from His power and through His power.
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him…” (Col. 2:6, NIV). This verse invites us to consider: How did we receive Jesus? By His grace! So how should we continue to live our lives in Him? Just as we received Him… by His grace!
Really, we can accurately say that the good works that come forth through our lives are a gift from Him. Think about “the fruit of the Spirit,” for example. Love, joy, peace… it’s of the Holy Spirit because He is the One who produces it. We keep close company with Jesus, abiding in the Vine, and He produces the fruit. We yield to Him moment by moment, surrendering each minute into His hands. He leads, guides, empowers, and produces. He puts the words in our mouths, and we speak them. He puts the anointed impulses in our hearts, and we follow them.
“So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Rom. 9:16, ESV). Every morning, His mercies are new. Every day, we surrender our will to Him. We present our bodies as living sacrifices. Jesus takes our hand, and leads us forth into the good works that He prepared for us before the beginning of the world. What joy to live this life in the unending flow of His grace!
What does it mean to “grow in grace” (2 Pet. 3:18)? Do some people grow in grace faster than others? If so, why?