I wonder if those guys who chopped the Bible up into chapters and verses had any clue of the potential negative aspect of that project?

cut-and-paste1Obviously their efforts make it easier for us to find stuff (Bible quizzing would be rather difficult with chapter/verse structure, for instance).

But it also eases the opportunity to yank things out of context (Phil 4.13 and Matt 6.33 for examples)

But methinks the most dangerous and destructive example is found in what we designate Ephesians 2.8-10.

As a reminder…here is 2.8,9:

“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.”

Wondrous truth! Glorious verses!

And they are all about God, His working, His “part” if you will.

Then comes verse 10:

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Oops! Now it’s about me…my responsibility to cooperate and activate what God has given me.

It’s that offensive, to many, word:  w o r k s

People who have been converted out of “works-based-salvation” churchs (Catholicism, various “protestant” churches) appear paranoid about linking works to salvation in any way.

But…grace works.

And that’s still not us, because “it is God who is at work within you both to desire to do and to do His good pleasure.”

Or, to put it another way (since are are to “examine ourselves to see whether we be in the faith”):

“No fruit, no shoot, no root.”

 

Grace Works

Even people who know better do it.

They quote Ephesians 2.8,9 often; but rarely…if ever…go on to the tenth verse.

Why?

They are scared of a five-letter word:

w o r k s

They are all about God’s part; and to some extent I get that.

But His part leads to our part…and it not a singular “our,” because it is God who works in us both to desire to do and to do His good pleasure. (see Phil 2.13)

And Ephesians 2.10 reminds us, instructs us, commands us: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” (bold added)

Thank God that salvation is a gift…but it is a gift loaded with the Spirit of God, who equips us with the desire to do and the power to do His good pleasure.

I’m reading a great book by Mark Batterson (Play the Man).

These words sparked this post:

“Phillippians 2.12 provides a good guideline for this:

work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

The irony of this statement is that salvation cannot be earned by good works;

it can only be received as a free gift.

But once you receive the gift of salvation,

you have to take it to the gym and work it out.”

Grace works. Not as “well” as we’d like it, not as quickly as we’d like it, certainly not as “easy” as we’d like it.

But…

Grace works.