Grace and Works

We will never be worthy of the goodness we receive from God’s hand. The apostle Paul, near the close of his life, after years of bearing the name of the Lord Jesus, called himself “the worst sinner,” (1 Timothy 1:15) and we often must make that assessment of ourselves when we consider the many negative aspects of our nature.

However, there is little advantage in dwelling on our unworthiness. God wants to direct our outlook instead to His grace: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)

The more I attempt to speak of God’s grace, the more I realize how incapable human words are of explaining something so great. Yet in spite of my inability to articulate all that God’s grace means, I am impelled to keep trying, since only through grace do we have the hope of release from our unworthy condition. Believing in grace is not an “easy way out”, as some religious doctrines would seem to suggest.

On the contrary, trusting in God’s grace as our only hope of salvation requires the greatest humility and greatest faith possible. Only by admitting that we are totally inadequate to ever save ourselves, only by believing that God’s power is all-sufficient when our human works have utterly failed, can we become partakers of His grace and leave our unworthiness behind. His grace does teach us how to work in such a way to bring honor to His name and be a help to others (Titus 2:11-12), but such works are a product of salvation, and of themselves can never save us. One question often perplexes people who do not possess true understanding and faith.

If salvation comes by grace through faith alone, and not by human works, why do true believers lead a life so different from that of the world? When we heard and believed the gospel of our Lord Jesus, we understood that He, sinless and without fault, took our place as guilty sinners when He died on the cross, suffering the sentence of death and separation from God that we ourselves deserved to suffer for our sin. Placing our faith in Him and His provision of love for us, we were born again by His Spirit, and new life began. This new life was entirely the product of His grace through faith, not of any works that we had done to deserve it.

However, the new life brought with it an understanding that changed our whole manner of living: If we deserved to die, and one loved us enough to take our place, the least we can do is dedicate our lives from this point forward to His cause and interests. This, then, is the answer to the question: Christian works are the product of salvation, the fruit of the new life engendered by the Holy Spirit, the result of lives whose motivation and purposes have been changed, living no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again. Works are the cart, not the horse; not the egg, not the chicken.

By An Anonymous Ex-2×2