We are saved by grace, the unmerited, unearned, undeserved favor of God, by putting our faith in Jesus as our Savior. Yet the New Testament documents account after account of Christians involved in working for the growing church.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James 2:14 and 18
Is there disagreement between Paul, the writer of Ephesians, and James about grace and works?
Paul emphasizes grace. But after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus his life was dedicated to working for the kingdom of Christ. Was he working to earn his salvation? Was he working to keep his salvation? Nowhere in any of the New Testament books that Paul authored can we find evidence that he was trying earn or keep his salvation.
Then why work? The passage from James very succinctly answers that question. Works is an outward expression of the faith we placed in Christ to save us from our sins. If we are truly thankful for what He did for us would we not want to participate in growing His kingdom?
Grace saves us. Works define us. Our faith is in the grace that God offers to us. Our faith is expressed by the works we do.
photo credit deepertruth.blogspot.com
When I accept that I can’t work to earn my salvation and I can’t work to keep my salvation then one question may come to mind.
How much work should I be doing? It’s interesting that the Bible doesn’t give us any guidance about how many hours or how many days we should be involved in kingdom work.
The short answer is to do what God has gifted you to do. We’ll tackle that subject next time, but for now let me suggest how we should approach working for the kingdom of Christ.
First, if I’m not doing anything then I’m not living out my faith. James makes it clear that every believer should be working in ministry. If I’m not doing anything I need to get involved in my local church. Getting started doesn’t have to involve a 24/7 commitment. It may begin with a commitment to greet people before the Sunday morning worship service.
Second, if I am involved, I need to be paying attention to what I can do and what needs to be done. Chances are there’s a need in the church that I can fulfill.
You and I have the responsibility to live out our faith. God extended His grace to us when we put our faith in Christ for our salvation. Now it’s our turn. It’s by grace that we’re saved through faith, but faith without works is dead.
This is the eight post in a series about True Discipleship. Other posts you might enjoy: