“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
Apostle Paul wrote a revelation that explains the nature of salvation in Christ: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). We say “yes and amen” for this Word with thanksgiving. In some of his writings, Paul mentioned God’s wonderful grace. It’s no surprise that Paul is known as the “apostle of grace.” However, there are confusions that Paul only spoke about grace, and that there is no other perspective in his teaching except grace.
There are times when Paul emphasized God’s command and the obedience of believers that should be shown through actions. Immediately after Paul spoke about being saved by ‘grace’ (Ephesians 2:8-9), he spoke further about ‘action’: ”For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). So, the Lord saved us by grace and we receive it by faith. The Lord also longs for us to live in the good works He has prepared.
Paul explains that God’s people who have been saved will be renewed in holiness – in their thoughts, words, actions and leaving the sinful old life behind. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:1 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.” This happens when believers obey the Lord’s lead in their lives. But if we do not obey, we will not experience that renewal. Paul asked for those who have been saved by grace to be imitators of God as dear children (Ephesians 5:1).
The teaching of Paul never separated grace from action. Paul even assured that the grace from God would not be in vain. He expressed this by working more diligently in his ministry compared to the other apostles.
When we encounter a teaching that emphasized one aspect of God’s Word, for example only on grace and ignoring the other aspects, that teaching will lead us to false teaching. Teachings that only show the side of grace and ignoring the importance of actions that must be taken as a response of that grace itself, will disregard the responsibilities of believers, and make them lazy and irresponsible. They will see Jesus’ teachings, like denying yourself and carrying the cross, as things to avoid. At the end, this teaching will create a system of belief that does not fully acknowledge God’s grace.
Let us see the balance of grace, which was taught by Paul, ‘the apostle of grace;’ and start to live it seriously. God bless.
Adapted from the Central Article 2016, GBI Gatot Subroto Jakarta