Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Salvation by Grace—But, What About Works?

I am studying the book of James; His letter is very vocal about works (James 2:26). You’ve heard it said: Nothing is ever truly free. Yet, in the case of our salvation, Scripture says it’s a FREE gift to all who believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord (Ephesians 2:8-9).  

Many may be trying to earn favor by keeping checklists of what to eat, what not to eat, church attendance, serving in soup kitchens, donating to food banks, and other activities. Doing good things is good but it’s not what gets us into heaven.  

How do we reconcile these passages?  The answer is bigger than my blog space today but let me offer a few thoughts to ponder.  

1.      We believe in salvation in Jesus Christ by grace, by that I mean we don’t deserve it.

2.      God’s mercy gives us what we don’t deserve.  

What Jesus did on the cross accomplished it all. By His death and resurrection, sin is paid in full. We are made clean, acceptable to a holy God. 

There’s always been the need for sacrifice in order to receive forgiveness. In the Old Testament, it was by the blood of a spotless animal. This foreshadowed what Jesus would become for us. Jesus was the perfect, sinless and final sacrifice. He offered Himself willingly in our place because He loves us.  

But, if that’s all God cared about I think we would’ve been beamed up to heaven as soon as we professed Christ as Savior. Instead, we receive the Holy Spirit – God’s very presence to give us power to be witnesses and ambassadors in the world for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Ephesians 2:10 says He prepared work for us to do ahead of time – this work touches those who need to see God through the work we do; we reach out and become His hands and feet. As we meet their physical and emotional needs their spirits are touched as well. 

So our works can’t save us. Only the blood of Jesus can do that; so, why the importance in James’ letter?  

Our works are evidence of faith’s transformation. A result of the outpouring of God’s love and grace on us. He died a gruesome death to take our punishment so we can have life. When we as unworthy sinners grasp how much it cost, we desire to offer our lives in return – to serve him and share his message with a needy and dying world. We respond in love by surrendering our lives to Him; Romans 12:1 calls us a “living sacrifice”. 

Gratitude for what God has done spills over into working to spread the hope we received—we must share it. Not everyone will receive it but that’s not our concern – ours is to touch the world with God’s love and leave the outcome in God’s hands. The same grace we received is offered to everyone who receives Jesus as Savior and Lord. Works are simply a vehicle to transport the understanding of God’s grace to the world. 

 I love the quote by St. Francis of Assisi:  

At all times share the gospel and when necessary use words” 

Works don’t save us, but they are faith’s footprints, echoing from the heart God has redeemed.
I know I need to be more willing to serve in response to what I have received from God. How about you?


  1. I need to be more willing to serve, too. It's hard when the service is something I don't want to do. But that's where obedience comes in, and that's a whole nuther subject!

  2. Carol,

    Responding the the nudge of the Holy Spirit is important. Using our spiritual gift to edify the body is essential. And, touching the world as the Spirit directs is profound.
    Praying for you. This is not supposed to be a guilt thing--scripture says it will be our basis for joy.
    I have so much to learn

  3. Amen! Yes it is a free GIFT, we must choose to receive. I always thought of the works part as something we do because we love Him and so appreciate the free gift. Not to earn it. Good One Jeanne!

  4. Yes, Liz!!! Oh, to love Him more so I freely give in return. I can be so guarded.

  5. Funny, I've been studying James too. You hit the nail on the target. And i love, "Works are faith's footprints." Beautiful.

  6. Thanks, Andy, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. What study are you doing? We are doing Beth Moore's which is very good so far.

  7. Jeanne, I enjoyed your post. His Grace is Sufficient! I shard of facebook that our Citizenship is in heaven so we do not need to be caught up in all the world's dissension. When we realize that, we are set free to really be His Ambassadors in this place!

  8. It is freeing, Barb. Almost like thinking of ourselves as missionaries in a foreign country.


  9. I just started doing Beth Moore's study on James...and it is DEEP...characteristic of Beth Moore. All I know is thank goodness for grace! One of the hardest things for non-christians to believe is that it's a GIFT, and all we have to do is accept. I know that using my testimony in service to him keeps me reminded of his infinite grace every day. :)

  10. It is deep, Celeste. I am only on week three and I am behind!!

    So true about His wonderful grace. I am so thankful

  11. Nice one! In today's era of gospel, we only talk about the grace of God...But nobody's is talking of our lifestyle after that... Repentence, sharing of gospel, heartitude, everything needs to told, right...?
    Who wants to scratch into heaven just with salvation?
    Will I meet my Saviour empty handed?

  12. I am struggling with my job currently, and needed a pick me up to actually physically go into work today. I am living in the UK with my husband who is in the military. I believe I am here because God sent us to a Godless country to see what it is like to live without God so prevalent in society. My struggle is my job is a childcare provider, but the women I work with are not Christians and are very, very mean. I am struggling to go into work each day, but I tell myself that my faith will be seen by my works...so far it hasn't and I've been placed in rooms where the women are just plain spiteful. Thank you for a giving me something to think about, I definitely needed it!

  13. Karyn,

    Thanks for sharing your situation. I know how hard it is to be in that situation day after day. I will be praying for you (praying now at 6am Eastern time: Father, I thank you for your presence and the Holy Spirit who helps to give us what we need in every situation. Be with Karyn and her situation at work. Please give her the daily peace she needs. And, I ask that you will begin to touch the others she works with in a way that shows you are at work there.) Please stay in touch....I am praying for you.


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