Even the Works

were created for the purpose of good works.

Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

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

Here is yet another purpose construct, this time not directly about God’s glory – though that’s never very far away.

What are we?

His workmanship.

Why are we created in Christ Jesus?

For good works.

Why were those good works prepared beforehand?

For the purpose that we should walk in them.

This is strong stuff. He created us and He created the good works for the purpose that we would do the good works. It’s why we exist and why the good works exist.

It’s their purpose.

This is curious, in light of the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. We don’t need works to be saved, they’re merely our purpose. Why’s that any different from saying we have to do them to be saved? If we’re not doing them, we’re not saved, right?

Well, no. There a technical difference, and there’s a practical difference. The technical difference is that a purpose isn’t the same as a cause. A lower electricity bill is the purpose for all that fiberglass I added to my attic, but the lower bills didn’t cause the fiberglass to appear. I caused the fiberglass to appear in the attic, by rolling it in.

Similarly, works are the purpose of my being saved, but they didn’t cause me to be saved. God caused me to be saved by rolling in the Holy Spirit.

The practical difference is the timing. The cause precedes the action; the purpose typically becomes manifest only after the action. The fiberglass went in long before I saw any reduction in my bill.

Similarly, if you’re saved for the purpose of works, the works come after you become a Christian, maybe a lot later. You might need some growth and training first.

But if works save you, they have to come first. Your heart and soul would follow your acts, not lead them.

That’s not what you see in practice.

The weekly study guides, which include all five devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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