Continuing his series on the essentials of our faith, Pastor Neil explains God’s provision for us– His grace, unearned and undeserved, which is available to us through Jesus Christ. Here are some excerpts:
Our salvation, Paul says, is not our own doing. It is not something we can achieve or accomplish by our hard work. Christianity is not a “bootstrap religion.” As Eugene Peterson said, “We can’t save ourselves by pulling on our bootstraps, even when the bootstraps are made of the finest religious leather.” Don’t be fooled into thinking you can be a “self-made Christian.” There ain’t no such a thing!
Good works do not, will not, and cannot save you. You don’t gain salvation by doing acts of charity. Or by deeds of sacrifice. There is nothing you can do to earn God’s favor. And there is nothing you need to do, because Jesus has done it all for you. And me. Our salvation isentirely the gift of God that comes free of charge to people who don’t deserve it and neverwill. There is a name for this: It is called grace. All we need to do is to receive it by faith in Jesus.
Since salvation is entirely a gift from God, it means, as Paul says at the end of verse 9, thatthere is no room for boasting. If it is all God’s doing (it is), if it is all by grace (it is), there is no place in the equation for pride. You and I are not saved because of anything good that God sees in us. We are saved simply because, undeserving as we are, God has chosen to pour out the riches of His mercy, kindness, love and grace upon us.
So then, do good works matter in the life of a Christian? Of course they do. We are not saved by or because of good works. We are saved by grace. By grace alone. But we are saved for good works, as Paul makes clear in verse 10: “We are (God’s) workmanship,” he says, “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
The word “workmanship” in the Greek language is poiema, which means a “work of art” or “masterpiece.” What this means is that you are a masterpiece of God’s grace. You are awork of art created by the Master Artist of the universe. You are still a masterpiece in the making. God is not finished with any of us yet. Nevertheless, you are a divine masterpiece of His grace, designed for His purposes, made for His glory, to manifest the greatness of His grace in the way you live.