Living the Story; Sharing the Story
“Identity in Christ: Saved for a Purpose”
Psalm 107: 1-3, 17-22; Ephesians 2: 1-10, 19-20
Pearl: Saved by grace and faith for a purpose.
Function: To show that we are saved by grace and faith for a reason—to do good works or rather to continue in that salvation: a very multi-faceted and ongoing process.
Within these wonderful verses are key words and concepts from our reformed and Protestant heritage. This is a good month to mention that, being the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The notion of “salvation by grace through faith” is the hallmark of the Protestant reformation. It is taken directly from the words of scripture.
- Is this what you learned in your own Christian upbringing? If you were asked the question of how to be saved by the gospel of Jesus Christ, would your answer include the two lovely ladies who introduced you to your Lord—Grace and Faith?
- If I popped a quiz on you to describe how it is that a person can receive eternal life in Jesus Christ, what would you write? Would your answer contain various good things you have done and plan to do in your life in order to deserve salvation? Or would your answer be more about these two ladies, Grace and Faith?
What we have, my friends, is truly a gift. What we have is so different from something that we earn. We are used to working for everything that we get. We are the heirs of the “Protestant work ethic.” That is both good and bad. The bad of it is that we are overly convinced that whatever we have we have earned.
- In terms of what we have from God, none of it is earned. 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 (Eph. 2: 8, 9). There it is plain and clear, but we are slow to learn! We find a way to take credit. We find a way to promote ourselves, not realizing that all that we have is a gift. Faith is given to us. We cannot even take credit for believing because the fact that we believe is a gift of God. So, let it be said, let us all agree, we stand humbly due to the sheer goodness and grace of God.
Am I going over something which we already know? For many of us this is well-known material. Yet it bears repeating from time to time. We are saved by Grace through Faith…it is all a gift from God.
- How do we receive salvation in Jesus Christ? Your answer should not contain any measure of achievement on your part. Your answer should in some way say that it was Grace and Faith which introduced you to Jesus Christ and His Way.
- This puts us in a posture of incredible gratitude. We realize the incredible gift we have which did not come as a result of our own effort. Those of us who really know this concept are very thankful people. We are people who are in awe daily at the blessings of the Lord which fill our lives. And so, we become gracious people ourselves. We realize the depth of the blessings that surround us.
The question now is, “Why does God save us?” Certainly, God saves people for a purpose. Ephesians suggests that we were brought into the realm of Christ in order to do good works…” which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life” (Eph. 2:10).
- We make a mistake when we think of “salvation in Jesus Christ” as primarily a matter of getting ourselves right with God so that we will be prepared for the hereafter. The inherently biblical reason for being saved is —to do the works that God has prepared beforehand.
- Jesus always preached the message of the Kingdom of God. He did not say a lot about the life which comes after this one. His message was very much about the here and now. He prayed that God’s “kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” The establishment of God’s kingdom on earth is about God’s people doing the works that God prepared for us beforehand to be our way of life.
Grace and Faith lead us to Jesus who leads us into the life that God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. So, what is this life that God prepared beforehand to be our way of life?
- It is cosmic in scope! It involves our planet…all people…our lifestyles…our nations…indeed the whole world. God saves people for the restoration of communities and nations. It is systemic in nature. It concerns justice for all…it concerns equity for all…it concerns well-being for all.
- God’s purpose for his reign goes beyond our imagining.
Once saved God’s people become concerned for justice, peace, and equity for all. These are all fundamental aspects of the kingdom of God which our Lord Jesus Christ died to get across.
- Our salvation cannot be divorced from efforts to distribute the wealth of the nations more equitably among all nations.
- Our salvation cannot be divorced from working to better distribute the wealth of the classes within the United States.
- Our salvation cannot be divorced from feeding the hungry of our world.
- Our salvation includes moving our world away from war-mongering.
- Our salvation cannot be divorced from the need to respect each other and honor each other as sons and daughters of God.
- Our salvation cannot be separated from treating our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit.
- Our salvation cannot be separated from looking to be responsible stewards of our environment.
- Our salvation cannot be separated from our visitation of those in prison.
- Our salvation cannot be separated from working for the welfare of those who are marginalized.
Basically, our spirituality cannot be separated from the concrete realities of life on earth. They are not separate. Grace and Faith lead us to salvation in Jesus Christ which leads us to doing the works which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life (Eph. 2: 10).
Brian McLaren wrote in Everything Must Change that “Those works which our Lord prepared beforehand were for the prosperity, the security, and the equity of all of God’s creation.”
We are saved by Grace through Faith for a purpose: to do the good works that God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.