August 10, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Often, we get so excited (rightly) about the good news of salvation by grace through faith that we overlook (wrongly) what salvation leads to: a flourishing life doing the good works God has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:8-10). We are not saved by works, but for works, that we might participate in God’s work in the world.
You may have heard of “The Great Commission.” It comes at the end of Matthew’s gospel, where Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . .” (Matthew 28:18-19). You may not have heard of “The Great Omission,” however. I fear that Ephesians 2:10 might very well deserve this title.
This verse reads, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Notice the word “for” (in Greek, gar) at the beginning of this sentence. This word makes a clear grammatical and logical connection between verse 10 and verses 8-9, which focused on salvation by grace through faith, not works. Verse 10 completes the thought of verses 8-9 by revealing something further about who we are in Christ and the role of works in our lives.
Even though this verse is obviously connected to the preceding verses, it has often been neglected by Christians, especially those of us who swim in the Protestant stream. We have been so excited (rightly) by the truth of salvation by grace through faith that we have failed (wrongly) to follow Paul’s thought to the end. Thus, while giving our full and worthwhile attention to the amazing good news that we are saved by grace through faith, we have failed to recognize all that happens in our lives when we receive God’s grace. We celebrate our salvation without realizing all that it entails. We don’t pay attention to the fact that God has saved us by grace for a life filled with good works. That’s actually part of the good news. What we do with our lives matters profoundly to God and to the world.
In the days to come I’ll carefully explore Ephesians 2:10 with you. For now, however, I’d encourage you to read it, reflect upon it, and pray about it. Be sure to read it in context, as a completion of Ephesians 2:1-10, especially verses 8-10. As you do this, you may want to consider the following questions.
How does the inclusion of verse 10 in this passage affect your understanding of what it means to be saved by grace through faith?
What in this verse encourages you? Perplexes you? Intrigues you?
How might your life be different if you took the truth of this verse seriously?
Ask the Lord to help you see your life in a new way in light of Ephesians 2:10. Be intentionally open to the work of the Spirit as you reflect on this verse today and in the coming days.
Gracious God, thank you for the truth and power of your revelation. Thanks for those passages in Scripture that are like good friends, ones we know well and love. Thank you also for those passages that surprise us, even that unsettle or trouble us. They help us go deeper in our knowledge of you and in our faithful response to your grace. Thank you for Ephesians 2:10 and the chance we have to omit it no longer from our understanding of the Christian life.
As we pay close attention to this verse, speak to us through your Word and by your Spirit. Give us ready minds and open hearts. May we be empowered to live freely and joyfully as people who have been saved by grace through faith. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: How Does Human Work Connect to God’s Work?
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.