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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, May 28 2020

Grace, works and obedience

No amount of works or effort to obey God on our part could ever earn us eternal life. Yet while salvation is given to us as a gift, there are conditions attached. The direction of our lives must be changed as a prerequisite for receiving God’s gift of salvation.

In Revelation 22:14 John further says, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” Through God’s grace, the gift of eternal life is given to those who demonstrate their faith in God by their obedience.

"By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:5-8). Salvation is a free, undeserved gift from God. We are not saved by our works.

Only the sacrifice of Christ’s shed blood can cleanse us from our sins. Because Christ is alive and actively involved in converting us, we will be saved by His life. The apostle Paul made this clear: (Romans 5:8-10).

God’s forgiveness of our past sins and His helping us to obey His law are both aspects of His grace toward us. Grace and obedient works are complementary rather than contradictory terms. The word grace comes from a Greek word that means “gift” or “favor.”

Yet while salvation is given to us as a gift, there are conditions attached. The first is that we repent. God simply will not forgive those who willfully persist in sin as a way of life. Paul wrote: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2).

That is what both Christ and the apostles taught. Paul “declared…[we] should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance” (Acts 26:20). Works demonstrate our repentance to God, but they will never earn us the right to demand anything from Him or allow us to boast that we deserve eternal life. Indeed, it is God who leads us to obey Him (Romans 2:4; Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25) and then empowers us to succeed (Ephesians 3:20; Ephesians 6:10; Colossians 1:11). The apostle James explicitly states that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20-26).

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Though works do not earn us eternal life, they do glorify, or honor, God, and He requires that we honor Him by the way we live.

Do works ever earn us anything? Revelation 20:12 says the dead are going to be judged “according to their works.”

Though our works will not earn us salvation, they will determine our reward in His Kingdom. Jesus explained this in His parable of the talents (Matthew 25:20-29). Our Lord also made this clear in Revelation 22:12 when He said, “I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.

Through God’s grace, the gift of eternal life is given to those who demonstrate their faith in God by their obedience.

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