Yesterday I had the privilege to return to our series in Ephesians, and our text was found in Ephesians 2:7-10. In our previous studies, we looked at the perilous condition of a ruined humanity and the power of God to save rebel sinners. Yesterday, I focused on the purpose of God in saving sinners – as verse seven begins, “so that.” God saves people for a reason, and it transcends far higher than merely sparing rebels from the flames of an eternal hell. The eternal eye of God is fixated upon the glory of God in eternity and the glory of God in our present time period. Both are extremely important.
The Glory of God in Eternity
For all of eternity, God will teach us the doctrine of God and the doctrine of salvation. Today’s evangelical church is often fueled by an appetite for entertainment rather than doctrine. In many church settings, the people would rather have a party filled with ferris wheels, cotton candy, and all of it sprinkled with a little Jesus instead of digging into Scripture and learning the doctrine of salvation. According to verse seven, God will teach us about how He saved us through His Son—for all of the ages to come.
What a grand truth. The greatest teacher will teach us for all eternity about His rich mercy and kindness that He extended to save a sea of ruined humanity. This is far greater than we can possibly imagine. This is far greater than the best conference on planet earth—and far superior than the greatest preacher in human history. God the teacher will instruct His people and reveal His majesty to us forever.
The Glory of God for Today
God desires for us to know that He saved us without our help. Our salvation is a work of God from first to last. It doesn’t have our finger prints upon it. Even the faith, according to Ephesians 2:8-9, is a gift of God. It is the desire of God for His people to recognize, in our present day circumstances, that God saved us apart from our own works. This is the eternal echo that has been repeated through the pages of Scripture in text such as John 1:12-13 and Titus 3:5. Our recognition of God’s sovereign initiative and rich mercy in saving undeserved sinners brings Him glory.
Also, we should see that God desires His people to be workers of righteousness. Although we aren’t saved by our works, we are saved in order that we will work for God. This is the point taught in Ephesians 2:10. Therefore, we must avoid two errors at this point in our understanding of the relationship between faith and works.
The error of antinomianism — This error teaches that faith in Christ alone saves, and beyond salvation, no commitment to the law of God is required to obey Christ. In other words, the law is abolished and has no binding affects upon the redeemed sinner. Therefore, whatever decisions the person makes in Christ are all covered by grace. This is an error that must be avoided in the journey of faith because it often results in lawless behavior beneath the banner of the gospel. While no works are necessary to save a sinner, salvation will always result in works.
The error of works based salvation — This is the error of the Roman Catholic Church. For centuries, they have taught faith in Jesus plus good works (specified by the RCC) bring about true salvation. This was one of the driving forces behind the Protestant Reformation and it’s why Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the castle door in Wittenberg in 1517 and it’s why he refused to recant while on trial in Worms in 1521. We as Protestants continue to protest such vain errors today.
It would be helpful to examine yourself and see if you’re in the faith once delivered to the saints. Faith plus works is a damnable heresy, but faith that doesn’t result in works is not true saving faith.