843 Acres: Keeping Grace/Faith/Works in the Right Order

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Kings 4-5 (text | audio, 6:54 min)
Eph 2 (text | audio, 2:42 min)
Highlighted: Eph 2:8-10

Ephesians: Ephesians was a circular letter—that is, it was sent to the churches around Ephesus, not just one particular church. Paul wrote it “to display the scope of God’s eternal plan for all humanity—for Jews and Gentiles alike.” [1] Here, in Ephesians 2, Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” [2]

Grace Before Faith: It is grace, not good works, that leads to faith. A Christian has gone through a profound change—from death to life, from slavery to freedom, from condemnation to acceptance. Grace—that is, “favor given to someone who deserves the opposite”—starts it all. [3] If you feel that you do not have faith, but you yearn for it, do not despair. Tim Keller says, “What is this yearning for faith? It’s the beginning of faith. It’s a consciousness of God. Don’t you see? If you’re distressed that you don’t have faith, the kiss of God is already upon you. You’re not capable of being distressed and wanting faith … Here’s the principle: To even want him means grace has awakened faith in you … Do you want him? It’s because the kiss of God is already upon you.” [4]

Faith Before Good Works: True faith, however, changes our character and behavior. Keller continues, “Two things always result from grace and faith: you become God’s workmanship and, as a result of that, you walk in good works.” When Paul says that we are God’s “workmanship,” Paul is saying that we are “an expression of the inner being of the divine artist.” Jesus died to make us beautiful. He is the artist; we are the art. This means that our families, experiences, relationships, etc., are like brushes painting the splendor that He envisions for us.

Prayer: Lord, What wondrous love is this—that the right order is grace and faith before good works, not good works before faith and grace! We are your workmanship; you are changing our character and behavior daily, making us into your image-bearers. Today, may we put your redeeming and contraconditional love on display. Amen.



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[1] “Introduction to Ephesians.” ESV. | [2] Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV (emphasis added) | [3] Tim Keller. “God’s Workmanship.” Sermon. December 13, 1992. | [4] Id.

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