"There are two religions in the world, grace and works. But only grace works!"
Grace works because it is God-originated, God-centered, and God empowered. "Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:7). God's freely given favor in the Lord Jesus means that we live from Him in order that we might live for and to Him. Or, as we often suggest, the dynamic enabling of the Gospel means that the Spirit of Christ lives in us so that we may live through Him (I John 4:9).
All other religious propositions begin with human attempts to experience or attain unto Divine reality and standards. The law of Moses, for example, called Israel to an if-then contingency relationship with God (for the purpose of exposing sin in the human heart and the impossibility of our successfully participating in such a bond with Him). "Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then shall ye be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people" (Exodus 19:5). Israel arrogantly responded, "All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do" - and then immediately proceeded to forge idols of gold, in direct contradiction to the will of God (Exodus 20:23; 32:1). Human beings possess no capability of a quid pro quo relationship with God wherein we simply barter services with one another as if we were equal parties. We are not. God is God. We are His dependent creatures, and life must be lived in the ongoing recognition that the Lord Jesus spoke truly when He declared, "Without Me, ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).
We play a role in our relationship with God, of course. "The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17). Our Heavenly Father built into our humanity the capacity for responding to His truth by belief and dependence. "The word is nigh thee, even in thy heart and in thy mouth, that is, the word of faith which we preach, that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:8-9). Again, we live from God, that is, we ever seek to know who He is, what He has done, is doing, and promises to do for us. Upon this basis of grace as received through faith, our hearts are motivated, encouraged, and enabled to "work the works of God" as the fruit of His dynamic activity on our behalf (John 6:28). As mentioned in a previous message, the Lord Jesus Himself lived in this manner - "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." Scripture calls us to the same dynamic response to God - "Walk, even as He walked" (John 5:17; I John 2:6).
Problems with works in the Christian life always reveal problems with grace. We either don't know God's freely given provision in Christ well enough, or we choose to not avail ourselves of such freely given favor. Our hope and solution lies in growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus (II Peter 3:18). Thereby our hearts and minds are changed as the power Source of our life and being enables us to more consistently walk in the light of reality. The writer of Hebrews succinctly proclaims such blessed truth in his affirmation that grace works…
"Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear."
Weekly Memory Verse
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.