By Robert Halsey Pine
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God–not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Ephesians 2:4-10 NRSV).
St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that in their development in Christ Jesus that, “Faith, hope and love abide (1 Cor. 13:13 NRSV).” In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul is telling them that through their faith in Christ Jesus they are saved from their sins. He goes on to say that this gift is not the result of their works, but is from God’s grace. No human has earned salvation. It is given to those who have faith in Christ Jesus. Our ears have heard his word. How do we respond?
Works do not save us, but God through Christ Jesus has planned the works for us to spread His kingdom on Earth. Our work is to share with others the free gift of salvation through faith in Christ. As Paul told the Corinthians, we must have faith in God and a hope, which is our expectation that God works for good in all things. And Paul goes on to explain that love is the greatest of the three. It is in our returning God’s love to Him and loving others that faith and hope come alive.
Why would Jesus encourage us to visit those in prison (Matt. 26:43) if there are those who will not be permitted to achieve salvation through faith in Him? This is where our work for the Lord comes in. Our aim in following God’s command is to prepare others and ourselves for His coming kingdom. The gift of forgiveness and eternal life with God has already been earned for us by Christ crucified. Our work is to spread the good news so that all of His children may live out this life in joyful anticipation.
The more that we do this work for God, the closer we come to Him. We must remember Matthew’s account to us when he wrote (Matt. 28:19-20 NRSV), “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.