Grace and Works - Day 27

What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?

James 2:14, RSV

Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

I Peter 1:13, RSV

 

The religious who are unacquainted with the Word of God live such lives of futility. Take the topics of grace and works. To some, the word "grace" is a secret code that indicates a person doesn't have to do anything to serve God. A bit ironic when you think about the fact that we are called servants, but some are so concerned that people will think that we don't have our part to do if they acknowledge grace that they won't even talk about it. On the other side of the coin, we find people who seem to think the word "works" is code for those who deny grace and think that they can save themselves by their actions alone. So this group does not utter the word "works" without letting people know that they don't believe them to be necessary.

 

So what we often find in these two camps are groups of people who have only part of the truth. It's like reading half of a road map. You may get part of the way to your desired destination by doing so, but when the map runs out you are left to finish your journey without direction. In other words, your lost...

 

This is why we are reading for ourselves the Word of God. We may have been content to look at "half of a map" in the past, but no more. We may have been content to let others tell us how to get to our destination, only to find ourselves with incomplete information that has left us wandering in circles. But now that you are reading the Bible for yourself, you are seeing amazing truths, for you are seeing the complete picture. Take the two verses above on grace and works. The Holy Spirit inspired James to let us know that without works a man's very faith is dead. God's same Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Peter to encourage us to set our hopes fully on grace. So which is it? Grace or works?

 

The answer of course is that it is both, for the two have never been mutually exclusive. Grace has always been God's part, just as works have always been the part of God's servants. Our part is not enough, it has never been enough to save us. That's why our hope is in God's part - grace! Both are needed. During these past few weeks that we have been reading through the New Testament, this truth has been made abundantly clear. The cleansing blood of Christ and the grace of God have always been the most important elements of our salvation. But, just as an employer would never keep in his hire a worker that does not work, we should not think for a moment that God will keep in His service a servant who will not serve. We understand, therefore, that the lesser part (works) is also required.

 

The beauty of God's plan is that we all have our parts. Further, he fully reveals these responsibilities in His holy Word so that we can have a complete understanding of the roles each one must play. When we have this complete picture, finding the way to Heaven becomes crystal clear. And this clarity should not surprise us for the One who loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son, would never leave us with incomplete instructions as to how we might take full advantage of that sacrifice.

 

Grace and works compliment each other. The Bible has no other teaching, and neither should we. We are going to Heaven! By the grace of God and the shed blood of Jesus that brings forgiveness, we are going to Heaven! Since this is true, we must diligently seek out their commandments concerning faith and works so that we might do our part as faithful and obedient servants.

 

Today's reading is James chapter 2 through I Peter chapter 1. These inspired passages will help us to find God's complete plan if we will only take the time to seek it.