What comes first, love or loving actions? Do I take my wife out to eat because I love her, or in order to get her to love me? In the spiritual life, this is a question that many people wrestle with. I did for years. Do we do good in order to be saved or because we have the assurance of salvation? Grace and works. God's part and our part. I lived in fear for the longest time that I wasn't doing enough to be saved. And then a simple phrase set me free. Done, therefore do. I'll explain in a moment what that meant to me. But first, see if you can see this principle at work in the Scripture below.
Ephesians 2:4-10 promises: "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Did you see it? Grace comes first. Then works. Our salvation is done, assured. We no longer have to spend an ounce of energy worrying about it. We trust it fully to "God, who is rich in mercy." Therefore, we get to do good works as a response to God's grace. There is no room for boasting. There is no room for earning. We don't earn a thing with God. But there is plenty of room for action and effort. Once we are filled with the assurance of our salvation, we can then do good in the world by God's grace. That's what "done, therefore do" means to me. Once I grasped this simple principle of Scripture, it changed the entire direction of my life.
When I was confused about how salvation worked, I always felt like I was never doing enough. Think about it for a moment: How much is enough to earn salvation? Nothing you do will ever be enough. That thought then filled me with fear. I thought, "I'll never make it. I can never be good enough to be saved." And then I heard a sermon where the Pastor clarified the principle of "done, therefore do." And I realized the truth of Ephesians 2:4-10 for the very first time. I felt the joy of the good news of the gospel for the first time and that changed me. Next week, I'll look more at what we get to do once we accept the absolute assurance of our salvation. Some of you may fear that it means that we can just live a life of self-indulgence. But don't worry. Grace and goodness go together. We just have to get the order strait. And it always starts with God and with grace. It starts with what is already done.
I would invite you this week to embrace the assurance of your salvation. "By grace you have been saved." Notice the past tense. It is done. Focus on that good news this week. Trust that's it is not too good to be true. It is God's gracious gift to you. Accept it. Delight in it. Settle in to that sense of full assurance. Once you get this part down, then the adventure really begins! We will talk more about that next week.
May you delight in the absolute assurance of salvation this week.