"Grace and Works"

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The Truth about Works with a Digital Imagination


We all wonder about good works?

One of the things humans want in life is some measure of control.  The idea that we can "earn" salvation through our good works is an expression of this desire for control.  We want to be the master of our own fate.

However, humans, being flawed, simply cannot ever earn salvation and eternal life.  It would be easier to take a stroll through a fire. Yet, the Bible does present good works as being part of what it means to be Christian.

We cannot earn salvation and we do not need to.  Salvation comes to us through the grace of God as a gift, freely given.  You do not have to pay for a gift, you do not have to earn a gift, you just get it.
So what about works?  Why does works crop up in several books of the Bible, including the gospels and especially in the epistle of James.

(James 2:14–26 NRSV)
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?  If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food,  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?  So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.  You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder.  Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren?  Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works.  Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.  You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road?  For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead”

What does this really mean?

Is James actually saying works can save us?

No, not at all.  James is saying that good works is the witness to salvation and faith.

When you find faith and God send His Holy Spirit onto you, you will be saved.  You will also have a natural desire to do good works.  You will find it very difficult to intentionally do anything you know to be harmful.

Therefore, if you see a person who claims to have the Holy Spirit but he or she does not do good works, you know they are lying as good works are the witness to the Holy Spirit residing in a person.

However, just because you see a person doing good works, this is not proof of salvation, it is not proof of the residence of the Holy Spirit on their heart.  Some people who do not have the Holy Spirit are still able to do good works at times, sometimes for a long time.  Eventually, though, their true colors will show.

The important point is that you cannot salvation and you do not have to earn
salvation, it is freely given to you as a gift from the Grace of God.

Rejoice in this since otherwise we would, none of us, ever earn salvation!

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