The Write Place- Curtis Bruce Kessler

August 25, 2017

Works and Grace

Filed under: Uncategorized — Curtis Bruce Kessler @ 3:44 am

me and dad

I had a special and unique relationship with my dad. It was a mixture of works and grace. A healthy balance. I was never confused between these two core essentials. I always knew he loved me, cared for me very deeply, would do anything for me. I also knew and was raised with a spiritual work ethic. I was expected to work, to grow. There was a non-verbal understanding that as I grew more mature that more was expected of me. Yet, my dad loved me unconditionally. He would forgive me in my worst moments. He acted with compassion when I was expecting severe punishment.

You would think I was describing a perfect man. But, no. Dad was not perfect by any stretch. Time will not suffice to write all my faults and his, yet, what he did perfectly was underscore the importance and healthy balance of works and grace.

In a nut-shell this is the principle lived and experienced in Jesus Christ, works and grace.
But for some reason while threads of these truths are evidenced all around us they are difficult to reconcile from a personal level. Notice why.

Point 1.
Ephesians 2:4 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

By grace we have been saved. God alone acted out of love to sacrifice his Son. Not by our works or because of our works. Just the opposite. We contribute nothing to the purchase of our salvation. Romans 4:4 “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.”

All we can do is accept his amazing gift.

Point 2.
James 2:14 “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” Concluding in verse 26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” In Acts 20 “but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.”

Faith is in the heart, unseen. Works is the outward, seen. Works are the natural result of faith and conviction of Jesus Christ. Without the testimony of works, faith is dead.

Yet, it seems we struggle with finding a healthy spiritual balance.

We take Point 2 (works) and beat it to death to the point where we start living as if we can work our way into heaven. I remember growing up and hearing one sermon after the other (well-intention) just whipping us into a frenzy over obey, obey, work, work, it’s curtains if you don’t, you will be ground to dust. The effect was a life of uncertainty and insecurity.

Or we take Point 1 (grace) once saved always saved. It’s a breeze. Once you’re in, you are in. All we need to do is bask in His grace. Love, love, love., rah, rah, rah, groovy. An endless foray of love. But just preaching grace only is also a slippery slope and can make you feel all cozy, too cozy.

Where do we go? How to reconcile and stay away from both extremes?

2 Peter 1:5-11 starts us on the right path.

” For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

A few quick thoughts here-
For this reason…our response is from God’s act of love.
Don’t forget what Christ did for you.
Be motivated. Eternity matters.
Look what God will do.

A few questions you need to ask and answer to help you find a balance between works and grace:

Are you trying to earn your way into heaven?

Are you living a life that honors Christ?
Do you take sin seriously?
I believe repentance is…
The difference between grace and works is…

Finding that healthy balance between grace and works is essential.

Kess

 

 

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