What is the Meaning of ‘Good Works’ in Ephesians 2:8-10?

Ephesians 2:8-10 is arguably one of the most important passages in the Bible on the subject of salvation. These verses teach us what salvation is, how to receive it, and how not to receive it. The purpose of this article is to explore the meaning of verse 10, which presents another critical component – the result of our salvation.

The essential truth of Ephesians 2:10 is this: good works are the result — but not the cause — of our salvation.

Good works are definitely a part of our salvation experience. We are not saved by our good works, but we are saved for good works. This is a critical concept – doing good works can never save us, but because we “have been saved”, God intends for us to engage in righteous living – this is one of the very reasons for salvation.

The profound truth of Ephesians 2:10 speaks for itself: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Yes, we are saved from something (sin, judgment, the wrath of God, hell). We are also saved for something (good works, a life of righteous living).

The Bible is filled with instruction regarding holy living. We are commanded repeatedly to love and serve others, to give to the poor, to serve God by serving our fellow man. Does God want us to do good works? Absolutely! No question about it.

But this is one of the most fundamental yet misunderstood of all Biblical truths: God wants us to do good works as a result of our salvation, not in order to earn our salvation. This is so critical! God is telling us to live a holy life because we “have been saved” (Ephesians 2:8), not in order to be saved.

Unfortunately, this teaching is one that many in Christendom have missed. If you’ve been taught that you should attend church, read your Bible, pray, give to the poor, etc, etc, in order to earn enough “Brownie points” to gain entrance to heaven, you’ve been mislead. And the consequences of this type of false teaching will be tragic indeed.

In many professing Christian churches, there are countless churchgoers who have not been taught this distinction between salvation by works and salvation by faith resulting in works. With so much in the Bible about good works, the purpose of good works is easily misunderstood. Certainly Satan understands the difference and loves having the truth distorted in the name of religion.

The doctrine of salvation by grace through faith permeates the entire Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament. Read the books of Romans and Galatians and you’ll find Paul’s teaching on justification by faith, not works, to be a major theme. And he relies on Old Testament examples to prove that only faith can save: What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness”. The Scripture Paul quotes is Genesis 15:6 – the first book of the Bible! (See Romans 4:3 and Galatians 3:6).

My prayer is that we will study the Scriptures diligently and always be on guard against false teachers and their false doctrines. Truly, the erroneous doctrine of salvation by works must be confronted head-on and identified for the falsehood it really is. The eternal destiny of many hangs in the balance.

Wayne Davies

Wayne Davies

To receive 2 free gifts to help you read, study and understand the Bible, just click on my picture (to the left) or my name (directly above).
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To receive 2 free gifts to help you read, study and understand the Bible, just click on my picture (to the left) or my name (directly above).
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