Fittingly, given that Mark Osler and I will be engaging in a mid-day dialogue on the subject of Faith and Works at the law school in a couple of weeks, when I randomly opened the Bible, I found myself at Chapter 2 of the Letter to the Ephesians.
In that passage, St. Paul reminds us that “by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God.” In fact, to make sure we make no mistake about it, twice in that passage he repeats “by grace you have been saved.” And twice he says, in slightly different ways, it is not by our hand, not by our work that we are saved.
No confusion there. It is not by our own efforts that we have been brought to life in Christ, but by the grace of God.
But – lest that create a different confusion- lest it make us think that now that we have been saved we get to sit back in our armchairs with our feet up waiting around for Judgment Day – Paul goes on in the next sentence to tell us that “we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.”
To say that we are God’s handiwork…that we have been created in Christ Jesus to do God’s work says everything about who we are meant to be in the world. We don’t do good works, the work of God, so that we may be saved. We do it because we have been saved. Because we are God’s handiwork.
PS Mark and my mid-day dialogue will be on February 15; stay tuned for the podcast.