Grace, Faith, And Works. 03/12/2014 (Morning thought)

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

This passage of scripture and many others, teach that salvation and eternal life are gifts from God to us, accessed through faith and not by works. Many Christians often go to one extreme or the other in their views and understanding of God's salvation. Some put very heavy emphasis on works and after a while come to trust in charitable deeds as a means of salvation. With others, the pendulum swings in a completely opposite direction, where the necessary reforms and changes that result from the process of sanctification, are either disregarded or deemed unimportant. Today we will take a brief look at the latter.

The grace of God manifested through Jesus to us, was accomplished for one reason and one reason only, that the image of God might be fully restored in us. Any doctrine that teaches otherwise constitutes a short-selling of the gospel. In the announcement of the angel Gabriel to Mary of Christ's incarnation, this sacred truth was plainly stated up front. Let's read:

Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Note well that the verse in Matthew says "from their sins" not "in their sins". This then tells us that the work of God in our hearts is done with the sole purpose of renewing  us after the divine similitude. The doctrine that has gained widespread popularity in Christian circles, which  teaches that God's grace frees us from obedience is anathema. Love is the over-arching theme in many theological institutions, but the Bible plainly teaches that true love to God is estimated by obedience, for "love" minus obedience is equal to rebellion, in those who have been exposed to God's will. Let's read:

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,  12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;  13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. 15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

This sacred truth was exemplified when on one occasion Jesus met with a woman at the well of Jacob. In this first encounter, Christ made reference to something very sensitive and personal in the woman's life that needed to be addressed, that of her marital status. The woman was obviously living in adultery, a violation of the seventh commandment, and therefore, if she was serious about salvation and eternal life, this issue must be addressed, for Jesus saves us from sin, not in our sins. Let's read:

John 4:13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:  14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.  16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.  17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:  18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

Whenever Jesus brings salvation to any person, He does not endeavor to do a superficial work, but rather a "deep cleaning" of all evils that would prove fatal if left in the soul. All sins, whether cultivated or inherited must be put on the table, and those sensitive issues we often conceal in our closets must of necessity be addressed. This important aspect of the work of salvation is erroneously looked upon by some as being judgmental or condemnatory, but as we observed in Christ's conversation with her, no mention is made of punitive action for her sins. Jesus was just showing her the plague spot in her character to emphasize her dire need of God's grace and mercy.

In our day there is an increasing tendency to devalue God's grace by not permitting Jesus into our "closets". Those secret sins and pet idols we often hold on to must be put on the chopping block so that God could cleanse us from "all" unrighteousness. This is what the Bible states, and this is what the Holy Spirit does in everyone who submits to the cleansing process certified in the scriptures. Let's read:

 Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.  3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:  4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

We hope and pray that we all will submit ourselves to Christ, that this necessary work of grace may take place through faith in the Living God. We therefore end with a promise of victory for all who thus give their lives entirely to Him. Let's read:

Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?  33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.  37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

          May this be our experience today and for the rest of our lives. God bless!