“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)… Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:4-5,9-10
We are not saved by what we do, but are saved to do good things.
As we grow in love for our Father, the Holy Spirit helps us become more like him. The result is that we stop sinning and start worshipping, not so the Father will love us, but because he already does.(Mark Driscoll)
Our salvation hinges only on what Christ did on the cross, but there is only one appropriate response that shows we truly appreciate exactly what He did – thankfulness, like when your granny gets you a jumper you don’t really like for Christmas and you know you have to thank her for it and then wear it to her house so that she sees you in it. The life we have been given is so much better than a dodgy jumper, so we need to express true gratitude. Think of it as being on trial for being a Christian – the good things we do are the evidence we are a Christian. They are the evidence we have indeed put our trust in Christ. They don’t earn our salvation, but they provide public evidence that we are saved.
Look at Ezekiel 37 – when God brought life to the bones they became an army. An army is no use if all it does is sit in a barracks all day. An army is meant to fight. We are meant to fight. For justice. For freedom. For truth. For love. We have been made alive with Christ to do the good things that God had planned for us long ago. So often we have this idea that we are saved to go to heaven, and until then we are just waiting. But that’s not how it is. In the Lord’s prayer Jesus teaches us to pray “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. The future is now. Revelation 21 talks about a new heaven and a new perfected earth. Jerusalem comes down from heaven onto earth and becomes God’s dwelling place among His people. Heaven and earth will one day become one. Jesus wants us to work towards that day now. I’m going to teach you a theological term – eschatology – it is the beliefs we have with regards death, judgement, heaven and hell. (Bonus theology lesson – the correct theological term for Flirt to Convert is missional dating. Not that I’ve looked into it…) How we view heaven will shape how we live. If we believe one day we will leave the earth behind then there is no point doing anything about the world. But when we see that God’s plan is for there to be a day when things are on earth as they are now in heaven and that He has made us alive to do the good work of advancing His kingdom and bringing about that day then we realise the importance of actively participating in what God is doing. We see why we need to do the good things God planned for us long ago. Eternal life doesn’t begin when we die; it begins when God puts His breath in us, when we trust in Jesus.
We don’t do things to become alive, but because God has already made us alive.
When we are made alive in Christ, when we encounter the life giving God we are changed – the old is gone, we are a new creation.
If we were raised from death without being changed that would make us a zombie, and the only thing zombies are good for is practicing your headshots.
If you had an encounter on the road with truck you would be changed. And what is bigger, God or a truck? You cannot encounter God and remain unchanged.
As A.W. Tozer once said “Plain horse sense ought to tell us that anything that makes no change in the man who professes it makes no difference to God either, and it is an easily observable fact that for countless numbers of persons the change from no-faith to faith makes no actual difference in their life.” When we are made alive with Christ there must be a change.
When you become alive in Christ, when God puts His life into you, you aren’t the same any more. You have a new nature, and your old sinful nature is nailed to the cross. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.” Galatians 5v24. When we are made alive in Christ. Our response must be to nail our sin to the cross and leave it there. Be bound to it no longer. Live in the freedom Christ has bought for you!