"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." Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)
Grace - an act of forgiveness, kindness and love for another that is completely undeserved.
Faith - the willingness to believe in someone or something without tangible evidence or proof.
Works - deeds and acts that are intended to help oneself or others through sacrifice and service.
The interaction of Grace, Faith and Works is at the heart of a personal Christian experience. All three are clearly scriptural. All three are essential to experiencing a meaningful relationship with God. This is the challenge of a healthy, well-balanced life as a Christian; if any of these parts is missing - Grace, Faith or Works - eventually one crashes spiritually.
In his letters to the early churches, the Apostle Paul puts these in order in Ephesians 2:8-10 and elsewhere: "By grace... through faith... created in Christ Jesus for good works... that we should walk in them."
Let me put this in the context of my own story.
God's incredible act of forgiveness, kindness and love was offered to me while I was completely undeserving. God culminates this redemptive gift on a rugged cross where Jesus died in my place, and for my sins. Mercy is a gift from God that no one could ever earn, including me. This is Grace.
As I realized the power of God's gift, my heart was pierced. Something inside recognized a deep personal disconnection from God and a equally deep need for meaning to life. Conversion (mine was a process of months) came in the realization that this need could only be met in the person of Jesus Christ. I was willing to believe even without tangible evidence or proof other than the stories of others. This is Faith.
When I made the decision to follow the one true God, a burning desire grew to do something! I had a completely new perspective on life - what is important, what is true or false, who I want to become - it became a journey from egocentrism to compassion. I no longer wanted to be my own god. I was tired of where my selfishness had led. I wanted to show others the way out of darkness and loneliness. My behavior was, and is, being transformed in response to God's leading. This is Works.
Our Creator pursues us. We notice. Our Savior calls us. We follow. Our Comforter, the Holy Spirit, guides us to holiness. We respond. The God of the universe created us uniquely for a purpose and calls us to lives of service. God leads us on a journey of becoming new creations.
Grace... Faith... Works... these three things are wrapped inside a personal response to God's abiding and pursuing presence. We now love as we have been loved: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."  AMEN

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