Saved By Grace Through Faith FOR GOOD WORKS

Moriah

Counterfeit Theology

A very dear friend of mine likes to say to me:  “You’re striving too hard, you think your works will give you success.  All you need is to have faith and trust in God and He will take care of it.”  This counterfeit theology is rampant in the Christian Church.  I want to set the record straight so that you won’t be deceived.  While it is absolutely true that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6), let’s read the rest of the verse:  “for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  The Bible is saying that when we seek the Lord diligently He will reward us, therefore our labor and travails are not in vain.  Rather, as we shall read in the Book of Revelation, although our salvation is not determined by our works, our heavenly reward is.

Let’s examine the very insidious deception behind the false belief that all we have to do is rest on our faith and trust in God.  We must not confuse two very different issues:  salvation, and the Christian walk.  This confusion is rampant among believers.  Let’s tackle salvation first.

Salvation Is by Faith

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”  (Ephesians 2:4-9)  It’s stated here very clearly, salvation is by grace through our faith in Jesus Christ.  No amount of good works can purchase salvation.  Why?  Because without blood there is no remission of sin, and the blood of sheep, goats and calves cannot redeem us of sin – only the blood of Jesus can do that.  As we accept through faith His perfect sacrifice, His redemptive grace becomes operative in our lives and we achieve salvation.  

But even in salvation at least one work is required of us:  we must confess our faith with our mouths according to Romans 9:9-10:  “ If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness (faith), and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (works).”  Then Paul adds in verse 13:   “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  We need to do something to claim the free gift of salvation:  we need to confess our belief in Jesus and call upon His name in order to be saved.   

Saved for Good Works – The Christian Walk

Let’s pick up again where we left off earlier in Ephesians 2,  because this passage explains a critical theological point.  We are saved by grace through faith for good works.  Verse 10 says:  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)  We need to have faith and trust in God, but He saves us so that we may walk in the good works which he has prepared for us.  So much for the belief that once we’re saved we can relax and everything will take care of itself!  Let’s get further confirmation of this by reading a rather longish but very strategic passage in James 2:14-22 and 26.

Faith Without Works Is Dead

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!  But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?  Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?”  And James repeats it one more time in verse 26 for emphasis so that we don’t miss the point:  “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”  

Who benefits from This False Belief ?

Where does this counterfeit theology come from?  As we say in France, “a qui profite le crime?”  That is to say, who benefits from the crime?  Well, this false belief makes Satan very happy for at least two reasons:

  1. Christians who don’t exercise their faith through works are weak because their faith is dead as we read above.  They fall prey to the enemy’s advances and backslide easily, losing whatever spiritual victories they have gained.
  2. Because their lack of good works testifies to a weak faith, Satan the accuser of the brethren can easily lay claim to these souls in the heavenly court room.  We read in Zechariah 3 how Satan laid claim to Joshua the high priest by opposing him, meaning by bringing evidence against him.  But the Lord rebuked Satan and commanded the angels to change Joshua’s dirty garments and turban for clean ones.  Now pay close attention to verses 6 and 7:  “Then the Angel of the Lord admonished Joshua, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts:

    If you will walk in My ways,
    And if you will keep My command,
    Then you shall also judge My house,
    And likewise have charge of My courts;
    I will give you places to walk
    Among these who stand here.””

    The Lord is instructing Joshua to walk in the ways that God has prepared for him, as we read earlier in Ephesians 2, and then He will give him a privileged place in heaven among the heavenly beings.

Lack of Good Works Opens the Door to the Enemy

It’s crucial that Christians understand this last point, especially Christians who are “brands plucked out of the fire” with a difficult past.  If the heavenly court room has little evidence of good works, it makes it harder for the Lord to seal you for His Kingdom and to protect you from Satan’s attacks.  If a man who had such exemplary works as Job was terribly afflicted by Satan, how much more can Satan afflict a Christian whose walk is lacking in good works?  Let me repeat it:  lack of good works gives the enemy legal ground to claim a soul for the kingdom of darkness.  Of course Jesus will fight for you and defend you from the adversary, but why open the door?

Our Heavenly Reward Is Determined by Our Works

Let us abound in good works and pray always.  As Paul exhorts us in Philippians 2:12:  “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”  The passage above in Zechariah 3 illustrates clearly that the promise of a privileged place in heaven is a conditional promise, conditional on good works.  And if we need further confirmation, these are some of Jesus’ concluding words in Revelation 22:12:  “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”

Wrestling with God

The Lord rewards those who diligently seek Him. If there’s something you’re believing Him for, your faith needs to be alive.  This means that through works you wrestle with God until, like Jacob, you get the blessing you’re seeking.  Show the Lord that you’re determined to do whatever it takes: prayer, fasting, vigils, offerings, sacrifices…  The Lord always honors our efforts and you will get a response from the Lord.

Jacob and the Angel

Conclusion

We are saved by grace through faith for good works, and our heavenly reward is determined by our works as judged by Jesus.  When we need a special blessing from the Lord, we need to wrestle with Him like Jacob did until we receive it.  The Lord always honors our efforts to seek Him and our labor to advance His Kingdom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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