It ain't about works

March 13, 2012

There must have been some Lutherans sitting in that conference room
when the Revised Common Lectionary was birthed. That is the only
explanation that I can come up with for Ephesians 2:1-10 having a role
on the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B.

I mean, obviously there is a connection between Ephesians 2:8 and John 3:21:

  • For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your
    own doing; it is the gift of God– not the result of works, so that no
    one may boast.
  • But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.

But even that smacks of Reformation politics, and a begrudging
Lutheran agreeing to take part in Lent, so long as somewhere in the
middle we get a strong reminder that works righteousness is bogus.
 Well, dear Lutheran, you got your wish.  To the detriment of the story
of Nicodemus, we hear only the end of Jesus’ exchange so that the tie in
with Ephesians couldn’t be more clear.

It ain’t about works.

It is all gift.  All grace.  Sola fide.

All of the stuff we do; the good works, the social justice, the
evangelism, the tithing, etc., is rightfully seen through the lens of
faith.  These activities don’t buy us a ticket into heaven, they don’t
make God love us more, they don’t (or shouldn’t), despite years of
church politics to the contrary, even get you a better seat in the nave
or more visits from the rector.  They are the right and faithful
response of those who have been redeemed by God’s amazing grace.  They
are the secondary activity that follows the primary activity of God.  It
is probably a good reminder, as we pass the halfway point in Lent and
pat ourselves on the back for having gone thus far without sweets, that
“by grace you have been saved through faith.”

Originally posted at Draughting Theology