Saved From Destruction For Good Works
I think of the Parable of the Talents often. Perhaps you’re unfamiliar with it, so I’ll summarize it for you. Jesus said the Kingdom was like a man going away on a journey who entrusted His property with 3 of his servants, and apportioned them each according to their ability. To one man, he gave 5 talents of gold (a talent is about a thousand pounds), to another he gave 2, and the other, 1. The men with the 5 and 2 talents immediately went out and put the talents to work, while the man who had the 1 buried it.
When the master returned to settle accounts, he praised the men who had the 5 and 2, because each of these men doubled what they had been entrusted to them, saying “Well done, good and faithful servant, I’ve entrusted you with a little, now I’ll place you over much, come and share in your master’s joy.” But to the man who had 1, even though the master got back what was his, chastised the servant, saying that he should have at least entrusted the talent to the bankers, where he would have received interest on his investment. He then threw that man out of his house, and gave his talent to the man who had 5.
This is a scary prospect: Jesus wasn’t preaching to unbelievers, but to those who were servants in HIS house. He was speaking of the portion of His Spirit that He would give us, and what He would expect when He returned to us. Works do not save us, but, just as work was ordained before the Fall, we’re all called to do the work of the Kingdom, each according to our ability. We are accountable to our salvation: we’re not merely saved FROM something, but we’re saved FOR something! Christ did not die to make us trophies on a shelf, but to make us vessels, useful for works within His house. As some Bible commentators have said, we are saved by Grace through Faith in Christ, and not by good works, but for good works. We’re builders of the Kingdom, with the Holy Spirit of God living inside of us, and the requires us, all of us, each according to their own ability, to fulfill that great commission to make disciples of all nations!
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.