9/6/12 Wendell, about 40
Are you saved "by" good works or "for" good works? Put so simply, I hope it is obvious that our good works can't save us, that we could never do enough to "earn" eternal life. But in truth, when asked about why they believe they will go to heaven, most people - including active church members - will either simply say that they believe they are "good enough" or begin to cite the good things they do. They believe they are saved both by their good works and for doing more good works. When reminded of the fact that "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast" (Eph 2:8-9), it would seem that all these people are not really saved because they trust in their own goodness rather than in Jesus. But this is not necessarily true. Some people - not most it seems but definitely some - cite their good works as evidence of the changes salvation has brought to their lives. How do you know you are saved? "Because I pray, I read the Bible, I'm always thinking about the Lord" said a man named Wendell at the grocery store today. At first I thought he was telling me that this is what saved him, but as I talked to him further I found out that he definitely trusts in Jesus and the cross. He knows he is sinful and that he can't earn forgiveness. He has put his faith in Jesus and was just citing the evidence that the his faith is a real, living, saving faith. The very next verse in the above passage in Ephesians tells us "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (vs.10) Are you in Christ Jesus? You will do good works. Not because you have to in order to be saved, but because you want to because you have been saved. That is what we were created in Christ Jesus to do.