“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”Ephesians 2:10
Martin Luther, responding to a distorted gospel preached by many in his day, spoke very strongly about our inability to be saved by our good works. But good works certainly have a place in the Christian life—and Luther would agree! Good works are the very reason we were created new in Christ.
But the proper order is always that salvation by grace alone comes first, then good works follow. Reverse the order, and you lose the gospel. You lose joy in Christ. You lose assurance of salvation. Life becomes an endless quest to do enough good works.
We have been declared righteous by faith apart from any works at all—praise the Lord! And that incredible blessing of salvation by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9) simply overflows in grateful obedience to the One who has made us new. “Since you have found Christ by faith,” Luther said, “begin now to work and do well. Love God and your neighbor.” Only after we’re freed from guilt do we lead the grateful life of good works “which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
“Let good works flow from a cheerful heart, because you have remission of sin in Christ.” (Martin Luther, 1535)