What are Works? Deeds? Habits? Virtues? Virtues of omission, as in refraining from evil deeds? Service? Accomplishments? Attainments?
Whatever they are, they are “NOT” the means of salvation! They do not put us in covenant with God. As an atheist, I was a do-gooder, as some saw it, a crusader for certain causes which most would see as worthy. I also was kind to others, basically unselfish. There were also human weaknesses there, as there are now, but back then, I had no power outside myself to help me with those.
I thought I was pretty much a world unto myself, and must use my mind and whatever abilities I possessed or could develop, to manage my life and carry out any missions I undertook. I believed in networking, working with others, mobilizing, and I certainly knew I needed help to accomplish most of what I hoped could be accomplished, but it was all a matter of human ability. And it was all for this life, this world, not for eternity (for I did not believe in any life beyond our mortal one). I believed one must not harm others, as a very minimum; I believed that, additionally, one should help others, or “do good.” None of this could have “saved” me.
It did not even make me more than I was to begin with, or add to my natural, human, limited self. I was finite, prey to certain weakness, and actually unable to understand fully how to make sure I did not harm others even inadvertently or from weakness, or how to seek the greatest good for others and be part of enabling that to come to pass.
Because of God’s Grace…
Because of God’s Grace, which is available to us under the Covenant of Grace, the Messiah Covenant or Christ Covenant or New Covenant (Testament), granted freely by God in keeping with HIS intention from the very beginning, through the finished work (accomplished action) of the Christ — because of Grace, I have been allowed to do a reverse “fall” — go from being a woman like Eve who has become alienated from God, or even was born as an alien from God, to a pre-rebellion human, on an intimate, loving, trusting footing with my Creator.
I could never have made that happen. The most I could do about that would be to be open to becoming more open to the possibility. The enormity of the Grace that gave me a shattering awareness of God still reaches way past the limits of my comprehension. The continuing presence of God is something that is unmistakable, just as God’s invasion of my being was an experience I could not possibly gainsay.
Yet I sin, I fail, I disappoint God and others and myself.
If I had to live my life on probation, always concerned about the next evaluation or performance review, hoping that I’ll squeak through again, what misery that would be! If I had to wonder whether at some point, God will just get tired of my nonsense, or decide I need to be punished both in this life and the next for not measuring up to expectations – – after all, with all he has done for me, and his past patience, and the flat out miracle of my conversion, what excuse do I have? – – the anxiety and insecurity would be horrible. But God knows that I could no more ensure my own continued safety as a reborn, renewed, re-created human, than I could have accomplished the rebirth, renewal, and re-creation on my own. I didn’t just “CHANGE MY MIND” about God, or who and what I am.
I was changed: passive voice. The one who acted in that matter was God. It took more power than a human has, a kind of power humans can’t develop. But what is so wonderful and amazing is that God does give his reborn children access to some of that power beyond human abilities.
God’s Grace is not just for salvation, or rebirth — but for living, for being more than we could be without, for doing more than we could do without.
So if we are in covenant relationship with God, under the New Covenant, and HIS Grace is shed upon us, not just initially but continually, how would there not be works? It follows as night follows day: because of how the universe was created and because planets both orbit and spin. The way we were created, for our relationship with God and other beings, and even our place in the environment where HE placed us, has a built-in sequence and order, and dynamics, like the “laws of nature.”
If we are re-created in the likeness, or image, of God, by HIS pattern, and activated by HIS power, there will be “WORKS,” or evidence of this. Through HIS grace, through the work of Christ to enable all this and set the New Covenant in place, we are saved, made whole (having salvation means having been healed or restored to wholeness), and now function differently from the un-born in some regards, because we have a different nature, and access to power beyond that available to un-reborn humans.
This is bound to show, although those who see it, don’t always know what it is or where it came from. Others who are reborn will be likely to recognize God at work in us. In fact, if they don’t see that, they are entitled to wonder how alive we really are, in Kingdom terms.
Our part in all of this? Opening the door when the “bridegroom” knocks and inviting HIM in to stay. Making the decision to be in Covenant with God, the best covenant ever, since the one between God and the first humans.
Receiving HIS Grace, as offered through this covenant, and loving God and others as commanded in this covenant. Hey, if we love God with our very selves, have agape love for our fellow humans, and love our Christian brothers and sisters like family (or as families should), this will order our lives in matters large and small. And God definitely will work in and through us. and, incidentally, we will also be keeping the Ten Commandments too!! Show me one we could break, if we are keeping the Love Commandments!!
Actually, God even does that for us, for we can love perfectly, or in ways that are like God’s love, only through the Grace and power of God enabling us, day by day, moment by moment.
By Martha (Marti) Knight