"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10 RSV).
This verse actually concludes a passage, beginning with verse 8, that forms the core of Paul's understanding of the message of Jesus. It means, he writes, that we cannot 'earn' salvation; it is a freely given gift according to our faith. Good works do not earn salvation. Rather, salvation leads inevitably to good works. (By 'salvation' we mean the awakening to our spiritual Truth.) Verse 10 suggests that doing 'good works'—making the creative choices that result in what Jesus described as the kingdom of heaven—is the whole purpose of our coming into this mortal experience. We are not here as separation and punishment, forced to 'earn' our way back to heaven. We're here for the preordained purpose of creating the kingdom.