Ephesians 2:1-10 | James 2:14 | Hebrews 11:33
So you have faith? Great. Now what are you going to do about it?
The Apostle Paul tells the story of a really lost, rebellious, selfish person who God made right and saved from their punishment.
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.Ephesians 2:1-2 NLT
Did we forget to mention that the story is about you? Whoops! But don’t get too upset–the story is not just about you.
All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.Ephesians 2:3 NLT
Just like everyone else, we were all doomed to God’s punishment for the way we lived. But God wasn’t cool with that.
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)Ephesians 2:4 NLT
Hallelujah! God brought us to life when he resurrected Jesus! And all we have to do is believe that he did–we have to have faith in Jesus–to be out from under that punishment and given a new, better life…which is good because we wouldn’t be able to work hard enough to earn it anyway.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT
But why did God do it?
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.Ephesians 2:10b NLT
He did it so we could do the good things he wants for us. That sounds fun. But it takes faith–trusting in God and acting on it–to do them. James brings up a good question:
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?James 2:14 NLT
How strong is your faith, if you do not rely on it to do good things? God can use you to do so many great things through your faith in Him.
By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them.Hebrews 11:33a NLT
Dear friend, you could never save yourself from God’s anger by doing good things. But you get to do the good things you were made for through your faith in Jesus.
Questions for Group Discussion
- Does the question of Faith vs Works (laid out in the second half of James 2) seem like a Chicken-and-Egg scenario? Do you find yourself saying, “Faith without works is dead, but works without faith is dead…”?
- Can a person have faith in Jesus and not do good works? If so, how? Wouldn’t that be kind of sad?
- Can a person do good works and not have faith in Jesus? What’s the deal with that?
Challenge: Do or Diagram
“Faith without works is dead. Good works without faith won’t save you, so don’t depend on your works. If you don’t have works, do you have faith? Can you have faith without doing good works? I’m getting a headache!”
Even though it’s easy to get confused and wind up in a weird Faith-Without-Works-Without-Faith brain loop, Paul’s and Jame’s explanations of faith are not too mind-boggling. Especially when you make a diagram.
- Read Ephesians 2:1-10 and James 2:14-26.
- Make a diagram showing the relationship between Faith and Good Works.
- Keep it as simple as possible.
- Add scripture references to reinforce your points.
- Present your diagram to your pastor or Bible study group for feedback and discussion.