There is a big danger to thinking we are saved by works, but there is as grave a danger in thinking we’re just saved by grace. The Bible says “WORK out your salvation with FEAR and TREMBLING.” -(Phil 2:12) We have to work at it. “Run the race.” -(Hebrews 12:1) We must not just be hearers but “DOERS.” -(James 1:22)
Be careful, dear reader, not to fall into the mindset of “once saved always saved.” It’s a big, yet subtle false doctrine that’s prevalent in the church. The Bible explains that people CAN “return to their vomit.”-(Prov 26:11) Demons CAN come back seven times stronger. -(Matt 12:45) People CAN abandon the faith and exchange the truth of God. -(1 Tim 4:1 and Romans 1:25) People CAN neglect such great salvation.-(Heb 2:3) People CAN choose at any point in their walk with Christ. Freedom of choice has not been revoked.
I don’t identify with any particular denomination. Instead, I follow Christ and try not to allow separation between myself and the other members of His body. If anything, we should let scripture unite and divide as needed. Outside the Bible, the truth has been fragmented and split. Most Christians partially live in it. This includes myself, for I am sure I have not purged my mind of every false doctrine. Even so, I know the Bible is indeed the primary and sole source of written and Holy-Spirit inspired truth. It has to be our “Go to”.
There are indeed other REsources of truth (such as this channel)…Yet, it will only be reliable whenever it is aligned with scripture and the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit never lies, though we all can and do occasionally speak falsely (often without knowing it). Usually we err when we decide to share our ideas, opinions, emotions, and desires instead of speaking about God’s will. So I’m going to use scriptures and harmonize them so that I present not my truth, yours, or anyone else’s, but THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH as it is.
We are indeed saved by faith. For it is by God’s grace that Christ came to save us and anyone who accepts Him and believes He is Lord. However, accepting Christ as most Christians understand it means saying a prayer at an altar call, becoming a church member, praying every now and then, or ever night, and merely living “under grace.” They begin to act like once saved, they’re always saved. Frankly, this is false.
Fear God and fear Christ even as you love Him, for God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He hasn’t suddenly changed into a “grace only God.” Grace is merely one of His virtues spoken of in the Old Testament (c.f. Exodus 34:6). If Christ seems less austere than God was in the OT, it is only because of His mission to reconcile mankind to the Father by demonstrating his love for us. Out of the abundance of this love, He sacrificed Himself to redeem us from sin.
When He returns, however (for He will return to the shock, and terror of many, and the relief of few), He will not smile at the world nor will He return to die again. No. He’ll be back with awesome (fear-inducing) power. He will return with the same appearance before whom John (author of Revelations) fell as dead!
The Bible MUST be harmonized! Otherwise our misunderstandings will lead to more unnecessary division among ourselves. We ARE saved by grace and faith, yes, so no one can boast (and say “I earned my salvation” or “I earned the right to sit at the table of the perfect God.”) but the very same Bible from which we learn this scripture says we must WORK out our salvation… (Phil 2:12).
Why should we work?
God put us on earth to work and maintain what He made. In physically interacting with this material world, we demonstrate our invisible attributes. How do people know what we’re really about if we don’t do something, behave and speak a certain way, stand for certain things, and give time, energy, and resources to certain causes? How is Christ evident in our lives if we don’t work? To quote a line from the movie “Batman Begins,” “It’s not who we are underneath, but what we do that defines us.”
Christ didn’t say “It is finished” because works are done and over with. He wants us to be good stewards. We are like those in the parable who were given certain measures of talents to use for the glory of the King. When Christ said it is finished, He was referring to that specific mission on earth. He had run His race and completed it, so now we can follow Him as we run ours.
God rewards diligence. He likes workers, but hates boastfulness. One day He will tell the doers who trusted in Him “well DONE”! Those who don’t think work is involved disregard the following fact:
God Himself was the first worker.
How can we be followers of Christ who Himself worked and then dare say “the work’s done.”? No! The harvest is ripe and the laborers are few! Christ’s work is finished but ours has begun!
Without further ado, let us read the FULL scripture we often misquote by reason of partial omission.
“For it is by grace have you been saved through faith, and that is not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good WORKS, which God prepared in advance that we should walk in them.”-Ephesians 2:9-10
With that said, faith is powerful, but here’s another verse. “Faith without works is dead.” -James 2:17
“By works a man is justified, and not only by faith” -James 2:24
Hopefully, you get the point. We are not merely saved by grace, not by works. We must accept grace through faith and do God’s will.