Works

Listen to Ephesians 2:8-10 this morning:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

faith_works_landscapeWe are not saved by works. But, we are, however, saved for works.

Wait, what?

Yep. We are not saved by our works. There is nothing that we can do to save ourselves. Our works aren’t good enough. We can’t “do” enough to save ourselves, our good will never outweigh our bad, and even the good we do will most times be plagued with pride and other sin.

It’s not that we are the scum of the earth, it’s just that we are prone to choose wrong. You are, I am, we all are. That’s ok. It just who we are.

And that’s what Jesus came to save us from. And this salvation doesn’t come from anything we “do” but what He did. We aren’t saved by our actions, but we are saved by believing by faith, which is given to us by grace, in Jesus Christ.

You don’t have to earn it. You can’t earn it. Just accept it. God loves you. Believe that. Your works to earn that.

Ok, so salvation through faith. Not works.

But, look at what it says today in verse 10 – we are created for good works. So our works don’t save us. But, when we are in Christ, we walk in faith, and good works follow.

So, there’s nothing you can do (or not do) to make God love you any more (or less). He just loves you.

But, He has made you for something. You are created for something. You were made to be faithful. To serve. To love. To be salt and light. To make a difference. To live in love, grace, mercy, and truth. That’s through Him. By Him. For Him. In His grace. For His grace. For His glory.

You aren’t saved by your works. But, His grace in you will call you to be more faithful.

You are His workmanship. You are His master piece. Today, through grace, may His love flow through us. And may all folks come to know how good He is, through His grace in our lives.

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5 thoughts on “Works

  1. Pastor Stoddard could you please answer these questions?
    If works are “evidence” that we are saved how many works must one do so that we can be sure we actually have a “saving” faith?
    What kind of works must one do to prove we have a saving faith?
    Is it possible that a person could stand before the judgment seat of Christ and Jesus would say that “you don’t have any qualifying works.?”
    Pastor, you believe you are saved. If you were to commit adultery, knowing that this is a deadly sin, and did not confess that sin and repent could you enter into the kingdom of God with that unconfessed sin on your soul?

    Thank you and God bless., Gene

    • Gene, sure I’ll do the best I can!

      1. I think works are evidence of faith, just like breathing is evidence of human life. It’s just kinda what we do when we are alive. The human body doesn’t tell itself to breath, I just kinda breathes. It’s involuntary. So are “works” for the Christian. There aren’t any works we must do to be saved. Just put our faith in Jesus Christ, and then whatever works God has for us will flow. One of the key Wesleyan doctrines is assurance. Wesley said that’s when our spirit gives witness with God’s spirit that we are a child of God. One doesn’t have to do anything other than believe.

      2. None. Faith. Faith leads to whatever works we are called to.

      3. Maybe? I’ve not been there, and I don’t mean that factitiously, so I really don’t know. But, as best I understand scripture (John 3:16, Romans 10:9) we are saved by grace through belief in Jesus Christ. Now, when we factor in Matthew 25, it does appear that the children of God should care for the least, the prisoner, the widow. But, in my opinion, that’s just what will flow from being a child of God.

      4. I believe that I confess my sin, I will be forgiven. But I think there is a distinction to be made between our “sins”, i.e., the stuff that we do, and being “sinful” i.e., our nature. Who we are. So, our sins would be adultery. Or pride. Or lying. Or any of them. And if we confess them, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sin. And if we say we have no sin, we are lying (1 John 1:8-9). We are called to confess our sin, but also know that the the only freedom from sin, as well as our sin nature, is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

      Hope this is helpful!

      • Pastor thank your for you comments. Of course works are “evidence” of our faith but aren’t they more than that? Faith is a gift of grace but aren’t works also gifts of grace? We can do nothing apart from Christ. God freely gives us the grace to have faith and He also freely gives us the grace to do His works. All we have to do is say yes. My point is this: why must we separate faith and works and say we are only justified by faith “alone?” James clearly says we are justified by works and not just by our faith in James 2:24.
        You said something interesting regarding my question about adultery. You said that if you confess your sin of adultery you would be forgiven. Amen! But confessing your sin is a work! It is a work of God’s grace. The flip side is if you don’t confess that sin you won’t be forgiven therefore your faith “alone” will not give you the inheritance into the kingdom of God. It takes both faith and works of grace to be saved.
        Gene

      • I don’t think that they are separated. Just like breathing is part of life, you don’t tell yourself to breathe, if you are alive, you will just do it. Just like if you have faith, works will just flow from it. And, as a Wesleyan, I believe that our works are sign of God’s sanctifying grace at work within us. As it says in Phillipians, work out your salvation with much fear and trembling, but know that it’s God at work with you. So, I don’t think they can be separated. But, I do think that the faith in heart is the genesis of works.

        I don’t believe that God’s forgiveness is tied explicitly to our confession. The closer I walk to God, the more sinful I feel because I can’t measure up to His holiness. So, for instance, there are things that I am convicted of that I was not convicted of when I was a new Christian. So where those things sin then? I think so, but I wasn’t aware of them. Would I have been judged for things then that I didn’t really know were sin?

        And on a bigger point, what about sins of omission? In Matthew 25, the goats are judged not by what they “did” wrong, but judged for what they didn’t do. None of us are where we need to be, and that’s why I lean heavenly upon grace, trusting grace to convict me, save me, and sanctify me.

        Enjoying the conversation!

      • Yes, I am also enjoying the conversation. We seem to agree that faith and works cannot be separated and I don’t have a problem with saying that “faith in heart is the genesis of works.”
        That being said I don’t understand why you would hold to the motto that we are saved by faith “alone?” It seems like you are splitting hairs. Why not say we are saved by faith and works? They are both prompted and accomplished by God’s grace. Faith without works is a dead faith and no one will enter heaven with a dead faith.
        Saying one is justified by faith and works would make sense of passages like James 2:24 “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” and Romans 2:6-7 which says we will be given eternal life based on our works (works of grace of course) and it would make sense of Romans 2:13 “The doers of the law will be justified.”
        Could it be that saying we are saved by faith and works sounds too “Catholic?”

        Regarding the adultery question you said that you didn’t believe that God’s forgiveness was tied explicitly to our confession, but it must be. A Christian knows that adultery is against the commandments of God so he cannot claim ignorance. Committing that sin would be a rejection of God’s grace or as 1 Cor. 9:13 puts it: “No temptation has over taken you that is not common to man. God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it.”

        In my example, God is giving the man His grace to resist the temptation to commit adultery. For the man to commit adultery he must reject God’s grace so how could he still be saved if he is also rejecting God’s grace to confess and repent? How can his faith alone save him?

        Gene

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