How good do you have to be to get into heaven? It surprises some people to discover that being “good” is not the criterion for entering into heaven. Rather it is through the new and living way [Heb 10:20] into the presence of the Father through what Christ has done for humankind in His life, death and resurrection. Salvation is seen as a gift in Him rather than being any sort of reward for human effort. This is beautifully described in the passage from Ephesians 2 and verses 8 to 10.
THE PASSAGE FROM EPHESIANS 2:8-10
Eph 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”.
A SUGGESTED PRAYER BASED ON EPHESIANS 2:8-10
We thank You for Your amazing grace so freely bestowed on us.
We thank you that when we could do nothing to save ourselves, You sent Jesus to save us.
We thank You that our salvation didn’t come to us as a reward for our good works. Rather in Your mercy and grace, it came to us as we received salvation as a gift in Him.
We thank You that You have made us for Yourself as Your own possession and that You have a created us to fulfil Your eternal plan and purpose for us.
We thank You for the good works You have prepared for us to walk in. Give us the wisdom to know Your will for us, and the ability to walk in Your ways, in the power of Your Holy Spirit.
We ask this in Jesus’ name. AMEN!’
SOME NOTES ON THE PASSAGE FROM EPHESIANS 2:8-10
SALVATION. The verb “saved” is from sōzō, σώζω meaning to save or to heal or to make whole. The [perfect] tense of the verb indicates a past action with a present abiding result. They were saved when they trusted in Christ and they remained saved as His followers!
What salvation is
- from grace. 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved …” God’s unmerited favour indeed!
- through faith. 2:8 “… saved through faith.” Faith is trusting God.
- the gift of God. 2:8. “it is the gift of God”. Faith means trusting God and accepting the gift He offers [the gift of His Son, salvation and all that is to be found IN HIM!]
What salvation isn’t
- Not our own doing. 2:9 “not a result of works”. Our works are not the means to salvation.
- Not a ground for boasting. 2:9, “so that no one may boast.” Faith is the only means to receiving salvation.
- Not of works. As the old hymn has it, “There was no other good enough, To pay the price of sin. He only could unlock the gate, Of heav’n and let us in.” No one at any time has been, or ever will be, good enough, to enter into heaven.
What then is the place of good works in the life of the “saved” believer?
- God created us as a “good” work. We are His “workmanship.” The word is poiēma; ποίημα meaning a product. In this case, a product made by God for a special purpose! (Some translations ‘brush up’ this ordinary word with meanings such as “masterpiece” or “God’s own handiwork.” However the real significance in not in what is made but in WHO made it. The Creator Himself must always have precedence over what is created no matter how wonderful that creation may be.)
- Believers are created for good works. “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” Re-created in Christ to do His thing, not ours! The “good works” as He sees them, not as we see them!
- The good works prepared for us. “which God prepared beforehand.” Word is proetoimazō, προετοιμάζω which is used only twice in the New Testament. What does God prepare beforehand? Us, and the works we are meant to do. [Us, as in this passage, Rom 9:22 “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?” Wow! A vessel of mercy prepared beforehand for glory! But there are good works to do in the meantime. His works! Not ours!
- The good works are meant for us to walk in. “that we should walk in them.” The word “walk” is peripateō, περιπατέω meaning to walk around or to regulate one’s life. The impression given is that all the good works have been prepared beforehand by God Himself and have been laid [out on the ground as it were] for us to walk in.
In many ways this echoes what Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12-13 where he described God’s grace at work in bringing His people the motivation and the empowering to do what He wanted them to do. i.e, Php 2:12, Philippians 2:12-13”Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
They were to “work out” in practice what God was working in them. Or as in Ephesians, they were created in Christ Jesus to “walk” in the paths God had eternally planned and prepared for them to walk in.
Blog No.294. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Friday 12th October 2018