Sunday, May 18, 2014

Faith, Grace, and Works

Some believers think that faith, grace, and works are sworn enemies, but I think they're pretty good friends. They go together like the sun, the sky, and the color blue. Can they exist separately? Not really. Absence of one is a negation of the other two.

Let's dig into it.

One of the most oft-quoted verses on the matter of being saved by grace is Ephesian 2:8–9:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
I think we can all easily conclude that works alone won't take us home. We need the love of God, manifested through His grace, to get back there. That's His part. We also need faith. That's our part.

So are works necessary at all? Let's turn to Ephesian chapter 2, verse 10, the very next verse in the passage, to find out:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
It sounds like we are saved by grace, not works, but that we are also created "unto good works"—or "to do good works" as it says in the New International Version (italics mine).

Titus 3:8 strengthens the case:
This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
Good works, then, in the genuine sense, are evidence of faith and grace. Grace not only assures us of forgiveness but it also gives us the power to avoid sin and enables us to do good and to be good.

Here is one of my favorite verses on the subject, 2 Corinthians 9:8:
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.
The key to salvation is grace. The key to good works is grace as well. And they are brought together by faith. They all go together.

Finally, let's not forget that faith without works is dead. Faith is an action word. Faith without action is belief with a guilt complex. Here is my favorite verse about this — James 2:21–22:
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
 So faith and works are best friends after all. They're pretty lonely without each other.

If we don't get some skin in the game, there'll be sin in the game. Keeping those friends together will hold us together.

But I am only speaking for myself here. "Behold, I give it as my opinion" (Alma 40:20).

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