I wrote recently that there is a close connection between grace and holiness. The New Covenant—which is based on the grace of God through the finished work of Christ—does not negate God’s call to holiness. On the contrary, the grace of God actually produces holiness in our lives.
Now I want to show that there is also a relationship between grace, faith, and works. Ephesians 2:8-10 demonstrates this connection:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
It is commonly taught in evangelical Christianity that we are not saved by our good works, but by the grace of God through faith in Christ. This is true. But have you ever considered that though we are not saved by works, we are saved for works? If you are saved, you have been “created in Christ Jesus for good works.”
Just like saving grace will produce holiness, saving faith will produce good works.
Not everyone’s works will look the same. We are His workmanship; He has designed us for a specific purpose to do specific works. But we are all called to something. Again, works are not the means of salvation but the fruit of salvation.
At a glance, James 2:14-26 seems to contradict what Paul teaches in Ephesians 2:8-10 quoted above. He emphasizes the importance of works as it relates to salvation, and even goes so far as to say that we are “justified by works, and not faith only (verse 24).
But James is not advocating salvation by works. In the context, he is describing the relationship between faith and works. He illustrates that faith is more than mental assent—for even the demons believe in God—and that works are actually a vital part of faith. Faith without works is dead, he argues (see vs. 17 and 26). In other words, genuine faith will be accompanied by works.
In Titus chapter 2 we see the connection between grace and holiness. But we also see how good works factor into the equation:
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who 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.”
When we encounter the grace of God, we are transformed on the inside and enabled to live a holy life. We then become set apart for the Lord and His work in the earth; “His own special people, zealous for good works.”
Do you see how grace, faith, and works relate to each other? We are saved by grace through faith and for works. Just like grace does not remove the requirement for holiness, salvation by faith does not remove the responsibility for good works. The key is that both holiness and works are a byproduct of salvation, not the means of salvation itself.
Let your good works grow out of your relationship with the Lord. As we get to know Him more, our heart will begin to align with His and we will learn to partner with Him in what He is doing in the earth.