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Grace and Good Works [podcast]

 


We who are Saved by Grace through Faith are “His Workmanship”

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

The born again believer is “justified by faith,” sanctified by faith, set apart to the LORD (Psalms 4:3). God deals with the sin and the sinner. He makes us new creatures in Christ upon saving us (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). Following being justified initially, the believer denies self, takes up his cross daily and follows his new Master which has replaced self-rule. The rule and reign of Christ in that  new creature is instituted and established. In the cross life, the crucified life, the old man is put off and the new man put on (Luke 9:23-24; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 4:21-24; Colossians 3).

Holiness is not manufactured, is not achieved by mere men. No. Holiness is the very nature of the LORD and is the work of God in the life of the yielded, the crucified saint (Romans 6-8).

We are are saved by God through Christ’s perfect sacrifice, by grace through faith, and yet true saving faith ALWAYS produces the fruit of an obedient, holy life. The fruit, the obedience saves no one and yet is the fruit, the proof one truly knows and is known of God. Anyone teaching otherwise is fulfilling the grace-perverting prophesy of Jude 4. Read James 2; 1 John 2:3-6, chapter 3, etc.

Jesus is 100% the One who saves us.

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. … We love him, because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:9-10, 19

Jesus saves us we meet HIS stated conditions – repentance, saving faith which always produces good works.

“Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:21

Jesus saves us, not our faith and obedience which simply appropriate His salvation. Saving faith and obedience to Him are always found in each of those who are His. Repentance and faith are the conditions – to the end of ones life on earth (Acts 20:21; Revelation 2:26).

Jesus alone can save. No one saves themself. Jesus “by himself purged our sins.” (Hebrews 1:3) Yes God requires your repentance and faith and yet it’s still Christ that saves you.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:5-7

Understanding the salvation of our God in Christ does wonders to envelope us in His love, to forge sonship in our heart as “we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)

Good works are not the way to Jesus. Jesus is the way to God-glorifying good works. Without being genuinely born again and presently abiding in Christ, in His stated terms, our works are on vain.

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5

Those who know the LORD, are known of Him, WILL absolutely bring forth the good and corresponding fruit that glorifies Christ (Galatians 5:22-24, etc.).

From the moment Jesus saves us, we “work out” and not “work FOR” our salvation “with fear and trembling.” We walk it out by His divine enabling grace working in us and our own continued agreement with and compliance towards Him.

“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13

Notice here below in the latter verses of Romans 3, how the “THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD” is appropriated “by faith.” Notice the eternal contrast made here between our own “righteousness” which is as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) and “HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Life changing! This passage is so very stellar. Pore over it today beloved of God. Ask the Father to open the eyes of your understanding.

THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD Through Faith – Romans 3

21 But now THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

22 Even THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

26 To declare, I say, at this time HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:

30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

We don’t do good works in order to get saved. We do good works BECAUSE we are saved.

Jesus doesn’t save us by our doing good works, yet Jesus did save us by His grace to do good works (Ephesians 2:8-10).

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

If your body of truth, your understanding concerning your view of salvation, soteriology, is not yet built upon the foundation of the whole counsel of God’s Word, you will have an imbalance and very likely go deeper into deception, unless those gaps are filled with biblical truth. With this in mind, let’s learn together as we grow in the grace of our God in Christ (2 Peter 1:2; 3:18).

Is obeying God legalism, works-salvation? Why do we obey the message of the cross? Jesus gave it. If obeying Jesus is trusting our own selves, meriting our own way with God, then Jesus is a liar. His instructions are commandments, not suggestions. All who don’t love Him enough to trust and obey Him are going to hell Matthew 7:21.

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21

If obeying God were legalism, were a defiance of the cross, every person heralded in the Word, the heroes of the faith from Abraham on, are self-reliant, wicked, rebellious, devils.

Can’t be both.

“We cannot pray in love and live in hate and still think we are worshipping God.” AW Tozer

The LORD fully expects His people to obey Him and grants us every iota of His grace to accomplish this (Romans 6:14-16, etc.).

The LORD wants obedience, not lip service.

“I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt (sin, the world). 37 Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:36-37 

To worshipfully obey God is pleasing to Him and not just rendering a fake love, fake allegiance to Him.

“And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” 1 Samuel 15:22-23

When we honor God with our words but not with our actions, it proves we are “hypocrites.”

“He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” Mark 7:6  

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

This is not an exhaustive study on this important biblical topic, yet it’s divine food for thought to help the believer in his understanding of the salvation of our God.

This subject is being addressed here because some seem to have a propensity toward the legal and others toward the lascivious, and others simply over spiritualize the Word and/or neglect, put aside, clearly stated biblical truth. There is the positional and there is the practical.

Obeying God by faith, in worshipping Him truly, is the expression of one’s love for Him and not law, not legalism, not works-salvation.

Jesus says “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Then, a few sentences down, He says “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).

True love, genuine saving faith, will always have corresponding action. God didn’t merely just SAY He loves us – He sent His only begotten Son to DIE for us (John 3:16; Romans 5:6-8; 1 John 3:16). There’s always a corresponding action that follows truly loving someone, in this case, God so loved us that He did something, “he gave.” And in loving Jesus, we give ourselves to Him and good works will always result (Ephesians 2:8-10).

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see YOUR GOOD WORKS, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

The idea that one can love Jesus and have no fruit to show it is completely foreign to the teachings of the Bible.

Notice the order below in Jesus’ words – “LOVE” (v12), “LOVE” (v13), “DO” what He commands (v14). And if you truly LOVE Him, you will obey Him.

“This is my commandment, That ye Love one another, as I have LOVED you. 13 Greater LOVE hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye DO whatsoever I command you.” John 15:12-14

Jesus laid down His life to save us. Will the true disciple not lay down his life for Christ, his Friend, and for others?

If the “faith” one claims to have doesn’t give, isn’t giving, isn’t obedient, such a man has the faith of devils, who believe there’s a God but have no salvation (James 2:19).

“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” James 2:19-20

Jacob Loved Rachel

Jacob loved Rachel very much and so working seven long years for her difficult father was nothing to him – because of how much he loved her. This verse captures such a truth:

“And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.” Genesis 29:20

We all know that “Time flies when you’re having fun,” right? Think about that in light of choosing to love the LORD, that serving Him is a natural overflow and something we love to do because we delight in Him.

Think about your children, your babies. Did you get out of bed at 2 AM to feed them when they were crying because it was convenient or felt good to be awaken out of a deep sleep? No. You did it because you loved them.

Do you always feel a chill bump when you serve your family, when you serve others? No, yet you do it because you are loving and serving the LORD and He commands such.

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5:3

The resurrection after dying and being buried, will ALWAYS result in the manifesting of Christ in our lives, in the form of good works, good fruit.

Bible verses in the New Testament on obedience are mountainous. And, they must not be viewed as doing something to earn God’s favor, justification, or blessings but rather an overflow of gratitude for the LORD and our “reasonable service” to our LORD who saved us to Himself by His grace (Romans 12:1).  … “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us” (Ephesians 2:4).

All relationships hold as a necessity, the need for each party to participate. Relationships come with responsibilities and they simply will not work if those duties aren’t done. Owning up to duty, to responsibility, does not equal seeking to earn or merit salvation. As pertaining to our relationship with the LORD, laying down our lives, taking up the cross and following Him who died and rose again to save us, is our “reasonable service.”

When did complying with the One we claim to love somehow become legalism, works-salvation, or seeking to earn our way with Him?  Obeying God in the cross life is our “reasonable service”/serving – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1).

What would happen if you stopped complying with your wife, stop doing what it is your DUTY to do?

Will God bless rebels? Isaiah 1:19-20 “IF ye be willing and obedient ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” – that’s Bible.

So you believe God will bless rebels in a special way so they keep rebelling and stay disconnected from Him? That’s not the God of the Bible who is love. So God blesses what’s against Him? No, the LORD loves all and especially those He chastens, rebukes, seeks to draw to repentance, before it’s too late (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:5-11; Revelation 3:19, etc.).

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

Will “all these things,” these blessings of God, come to those who do not seek first God’s kingdom? Is there no condition? (See Matthew 6:33.) The blessings of God are conditional, not unconditional.

So who does God reward people? If so, who does He reward? He rewards those who diligently seek Him:

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

Believing God requires His people to obey Him and blesses them as they do, is not believing one is meriting those blessings or justification. The two must never be automatically conflated.

Obeying Jesus is not, does not, equal believing that you’re meriting your own salvation or justification.

Once again we see faith and good works produced from that faith in the life of Noah.

“…he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Hebrews 11:6-7

By faith, Noah was moved by the fear of the LORD, and into action. That’s how the ark got built. Genesis 5-10.

Faith moved Abraham forth in his calling, in the calling of God upon his life.

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Hebrews 11:8-10

Obeying God is fueled by the cross life, the raising up of the LORD in our lives as we are crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 4:10-12, etc.). God requires that we die. He commanded it and has locked up His resurrection blessings in it as we comply.

Obeying the LORD is an expression of our love for God.

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15

1 John is called “the book of absolutes.”

“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” 1 John 2:3-6 

James 2 – Faith Without Works Is Dead

14  What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 

15  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 

16  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 

17  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 

18  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works

19  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 

20  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 

21  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 

22  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 

23  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 

24  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 

25  Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? 

26  For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. 

James 2 – show me your faith WITHOUT good works that glorify God and I will show you my saving faith BY MY WORKS …. Good works are always the product of true, saving faith. Here James challenges all who claim they have saving faith to prove it by obeying God, letting our “light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

We must never remove or ignore Scripture truth and diminish aught from one truth to accommodate another. This will always lead to imbalance, error. May God bless us to compare Scripture with Scripture and to synthesize all His truth into a glorious tapestry as the Holy Spirit enables and teaches us, revealing how all these things of His kingdom are knit together.

While our works do NOT merit our place with God, they are always present, always found in the life of the true believer. We are saved by grace through faith which always produces the fruit of good works.

The works come out of the resurrection and if there are not works, it’s clear that such a person is not submitted to his own death and burial, to the cross life, the crucified life (Luke 9:23-24; Romans 6; Galatians 2:20, etc.).

When God raises a man upward, a crucified man, he will behold things like Paul – “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Romans 6 is clear proof that grace and the cross life cannot be separated. They are eternally, divinely intertwined, married.

“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” 1 Corinthians 9:16

The faith of the apostles and every true New Testament believer has and does always move him into Gospel action.

This is not a “oh I have to do good works to merit God’s favor and justification.” No. This is a “He must increase but I must decrease” posture (John 3:30).

Paul commands: “maintain good works.”

“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.” Titus 3:8

Also in Titus, we read:

“They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” Titus 1:16

Jesus told all seven churches of Asia they had to overcome to be with Him (Revelation 2-3).

“And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:” Revelation 2:26

Keeping His “works unto the end” proves one is enduring to the end in true, saving faith, which Jesus says is essential to final salvation (Matthew 10:22; 24:13; 25:1-13, etc.).

If our relationship with God He requires no participation, why do we read such words in the New Testament?

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12 

Jesus went to the cross. That was a good work, motivated by His love for the Father. Christ’s apostle Paul declared “the love of Christ constraineth us” and “constraineth” means to compel (2 Corinthians 5:14).

“For the love of Christ constraineth (compels) us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” 2 Corinthians 5:5:14-15 

Paul and every true, abiding, remnant New Testament saint is seeking God, is full of His love, and “moved with compassion” to bless others (Matthew 9:35-38). –“the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).

“Your Work of Faith, and Labour of love”

Where’s the phrase “It’s a labor of love” come from? God’s Word.

Knowing and serving God is not drudgery but rather joy!

“Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;” 1 Thessalonians 1:3

Our work for Christ must emanate from our “faith” toward Him and our “love” will bear the fruit of “labour” for His glory. You may wish to really grab on to this divinely-inspired phrase – “work of faith, and labour of love.”

The bottom line is that Jesus is not at all interested in you trying to serve and please Him IF YOU DON’T LOVE HIM. Of course, you must repent in order to be His son/daughter to begin with (Luke 13:3, 5). And, repentance is putting your full trust in Him and the beginning of loving Him. The LORD looks upon and wants your heart. – “Rend your heart, and not your garments” (Joel 2:13).

Jesus commanded His people to go and preach and teach His Gospel, His Word (Matthew 28:28-20; Mark 16:15, etc.). That’s the law of Christ – where the disciple loves Him, their “first love,” and delights to obey Him, and is fueled by His resurrection grace.

No matter who we are, how mature we are in Christ, there are holes in all our theology and so we should remain teachable  -searching the Scriptures and asking God to show us (Ephesians 1:16-21).

Since when is a relationship one sided? Stand back and meditate on every vital relationship in your personal life…. Which one doesn’t involve your personal participation? Not one. Yet in participating, that in no way means you are trying to earn the love of the other party, person. When you love, you willingly give. Isn’t that what God did when He gave His only begotten Son? (See John 3:16.) Do we not emulate Him?

“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” Ephesians 5:1-2 

We have no divine permission to dismiss or set aside biblical truth that disturbs the doctrinal fortress we build around us. If truth disturbs your doctrine, that’s exactly what God designed it to do and to quicken you to fresh repentance and an allowance for the whole of His Word (Psalms 119; Mark 7:6-10; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17, etc.) According to 1 Corinthians 2:13 – all must be compared, considered, collated… line upon line, precept upon precept (Isaiah 28).

“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 2:13

It’s convoluted theology to speak against, contrary to the whole of the Word of God which among other things says “ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Ignoring known, clearly stated Bible truth to perpetrate a certain view is confusion, a violence against the picture painted by the WHOLE of Holy Scripture and is not a rightly dividing of the Word of truth but instead a deliberate, subjective ignoring of known truth to perpetrate an agenda (1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:15).

Good works are not the way to Jesus. Jesus is the way to God-glorifying good works. Without being genuinely born again and presently abiding in Christ, in His stated terms, our works are in vain.

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5

Those who know the LORD, are known of Him, WILL absolutely bear the good and corresponding fruit that glorifies Christ (Galatians 5:22-24, etc.).

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, please teach me Your ways. Integrate in me the whole of Your Word, into a tapestry that brings glory to Yourself. Change my life from this moment forth dear LORD. Please take away the stony places in my heart. Break the wicked unbelief and pride in my heart and grant me to have a heart of flesh. In Jesus’ Name, amen. 

Support | STORE | | PodcastsLight of the Word | Evangelism | Jesus, Light of the WordCompassion in Light of Christ’s Soon ReturnStriving Together for the Faith of the Gospel [podcast]

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