In my current series “Staying Alive in Christ,” I talked this morning from that amazing passage in Ephesians chapter 2 where the apostle Paul writes about how once we were dead, but made alive in Christ in order to do good works. We are saved by grace, not works, but having been made alive now in Christ, our lives as followers of Jesus ought to be characterized by good works. But what are these good works? I took the word “works” and made an alliteration to help give guidance. This is by no means exhaustive, but gives us a good starting point:
Witness – having been made in alive in Christ means our lives are to be a good witness of the saving and redemptive work of God. Acts 1:8 talks about being a witness of the Gospel after having received the Holy Spirit. We’ve all unfortunately known people who were bad witnesses of the Gospel, yet I’m convinced that good works should amount to a good witness for Christ.
Obedience – in Ephesians 2:2, one of the characteristics of being dead in sin and transgressions is disobedience. Yet when one is made alive by God there is a desire to fully obey the Lord. For example, the Psalmist says in Psalm 119:60, “I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.” A willingness to obey God and do His will is a clear indication that you are alive in Christ.
Reconciliation – a good work of one who is alive in Christ is that they are actively engaged in the ministry of reconciliation. In 2 Corinthians 5:18 we are asked to do something great – “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” We all have a ministry, and as reconcilers we are called to help bring people to God so that they too can be made alive in Christ.
Kindness – in Ephesians 2:7 we are reminded of the grace and kindness that God expresses to us in Christ Jesus. We then are to exhibit kindness to others. Two chapters over in Ephesians 4:32, Paul talks more about this and says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” This is most certainly a good work that shows we are truly alive in Christ.
Serve – a life dedicated to good works will inevitably be a life who serves others, even as Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). In Galatians 5:13 we read this, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
May our lives be characterized by good works!
John M. Hanna