Saved by grace
In Ephesians 2:8-10 Paul says, “For by grace you have been saved, and this is not your doing, it is the gift of God — not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” What is grace? As John Stroman puts it, “Grace is the unmerited, unearned, undeserved goodness of God offered to us in Jesus Christ.”
Paul understood the grace of God, he was on the way to Damascus to persecute the Christians there. Completely undeserving, in fact deserving of the wrath of Jesus, instead he is struck down by the love of Jesus, and he is transformed, not by anything he has done, but purely by grace, purely by God’s love in Jesus Christ, and he spends the rest of his life doing the good works he was destined to do. Paul was saved by grace, and he is reminding those folks in Ephesus that they too were saved by grace and created in Jesus Christ for good works, prepared by God beforehand to be their way of life.
John Newton was saved by grace. He was a sea captain of slave ships, a despicable man, cruel and greedy, following the course of the world, a true follower of the evil ruler of the power of the air, but in the hour of his greatest need, in a storm when all his knowledge and power could not help, God stepped in, saved him, saved him not only from the immediate peril, but his eternal peril that his sins deserved. And Newton can only call that grace “Amazing” as he writes the famous hymn which continues to inspire us to this day. He spends the rest of life working against the slave trade, becoming a monk, doing those good works God has prepared for his way of life. John Newton has written, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be. I am not what I hope to be. But still, I am not what I used to be. And by the grace of God, I am what I am.”
You too have been saved by grace through faith, not of your own doing, it is the gift of God. And now like Paul, like John Newton, now you can be who you were really made to be, created in Christ Jesus for good works, prepared ahead of time to be your way of life. What are those good works God has created you to do?
REV. DALE BROWN is the pastor of Cumberland and Guinea Presbyteriann Churches. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.