Ephesians 2:8-10, (ESV)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
This is what the apostle Paul said about salvation. Here is what James said:
James 2:17, 18, (ESV)
17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apartfrom your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
To some, there appears to be a discrepancy, but there is no discrepancy. The two passages of Scripture align perfectly.
After saying we are saved by faith and not by works, Paul said we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We have been saved by faith, not by works. But what have we been saved from? We were saved from our slavery to sin through the blood of Jesus, and raised up by the same power that raised Him from the dead. And we now find ourselves in the heavenly places, living and working through the Holy Spirit of Christ and God.
The works that James was talking about are the works that were created beforehand by God, that we might walk in them. When we were raised up into newness of life in Christ Jesus we became a part of a new creation, that is, the body of the risen Christ, the church. And now works flow from us as we walk by the Spirit in whom we have this new life. The Spirit knows the will of God and leads and guides us in His will, that we might obey and do the works that God prepared beforehand for us.
Jesus said no one is good, only God. He also said. “…the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner,” John 5:19. We must follow His example, and do the works the Father has prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. All other works will be destroyed by fire, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.
So we are saved by grace through faith, and that faith produces works, because the Spirit of Christ now dwells within us, and we follow Him. In other words, faith in Christ results in salvation, and salvation results in works.
Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant