Two of the best known, most often memorized and quoted verses in Scripture are Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift from God, not of works lest anyone should boast.”
We are reassured as we hear them that we don’t work our way to peace with God and that our salvation is a free gift which is the wonderfully profound truth of Jesus’ sacrificial and atoning death in taking our place on the cross. And perhaps it is the wonder of the magnitude and significance of that free gift that has allowed our enemy to so obscure the subsequent verse; verse 10.
This verse has significant profundity of its own and gives us the basis for a saved life of eternal significance if we understand it correctly. It follows that, because it is so important that our enemy, Satan, would attempt to deflect our attention or discourage our consideration of the eternal import that resides in just 22 words. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10. No, we are not saved by good works, but we are saved for the good works that God prepared for us to do! Without taking the time to go deeply into the theology, let’s just look at the simple implications of the concept.
First, God has a plan for the life and works of each saved person. He prepared it beforehand, before He created the Earth. He planned for each Christian to be born and born again! He has a master plan for the entire universe, and within it there is a part for you and me! How important is our individual piece? Important enough for God to include it in the most wondrous of plans ever! You and I are not biological accidents who just happened to show up on planet earth at this time in history!
"God decided He needed and wanted us here right now! And He planned ultimate meaning for us as we fulfill His desire and do His will. Each of us is important to the plan and will of God. We have an eternal destiny, and it’s more than simply salvation. This statement doesn’t minimize the value of our salvation; it simply expands it to include God’s ultimate purpose."Buck Jacobs
Our experience in heaven will be influenced by our response to our individual opportunity to live out God’s plan for our lives. In the space we have available let’s consider another obscured, but also eternally significant verse, 2 Corinthians 5:10, which reads, “For we must all appear before the Judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” Get that “all” and “each one?” That’s you and me. The Judgment Seat of Christ, or The Bema as it is often called, is the performance review of each believer’s life conducted by Jesus. Jesus didn’t die for us just so that we could avoid hell. Jesus “gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Titus 2:14.
What are those “things done in the body?” Let the Scriptures speak for themselves; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet as through fire.” The “work” is what God designed us to do and is the specific way we can participate in the plan which He “prepared in advance for us.”
In the second chapter of Titus, Scripture tells us that we should “show yourself to be a pattern of good works.” In chapter 4 we read that “those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works” and “let our people also learn to maintain good works.”
Good Works can be identified in 3 basic segments:
- Helping the lost be saved.
- Helping the saints to learn God’s plan and way in life.
- Giving to the needs of others in God’s love and Name.
We could go on, but there’s not space here. The point is simply this, after our salvation, our most important focus should be to learn what God’s will and purpose for our lives is and then to pursue it. It should be our goal as parents to guide our children in this truth. For those called to lead a business, it is super important that we understand that our work counts in this equation. God raises up leaders who operate as stewards and calls them to share His thinking. This is counter-cultural thinking, contrary to the American dream in many ways. But that’s not what is important. What is important is that it is truth. And each of us should invest the time to investigate for ourselves to the extent that we are willing to trust our answer for eternity. When we come to the end of the “race that is set before us,” we won’t have the opportunity for a “do-over.” God is gracious beyond words, but there is no hint in His Word that we can have a second chance. “And it is appointed for men to die, but after this the judgment.” – Hebrews 9:27. Take the time. Check it out. Eternity is a long time to get it wrong.
By: Buck Jacobs
Buck Jacobs is Chairman of the Board and Founder of The C12 Group, LLC. As a Christian leadership development organization, C12 helps teach you to best use your position as Christian Business Owner, CEO, or President to share the joy of serving Christ daily. You can find out more information about The C12 Group by visiting www.c12group.com. Buck has written several books and feature magazine articles, including A Light Shines Bright in Babylon – A Handbook for Christian Business Owners, and A Strategic Plan for Ministry and The Parable of the Janitor and the CEO. Buck currently lives in Cornelia, Georgia. He is happily married to Bonnie for 35 years, and they have three lovely daughters, five “way above average” grandsons, and one very beautiful and huggable granddaughter.Read More Articles by Buck Jacobs