I can’t seem to get away from the constant debate of whether we are saved by grace alone or works alone. As I have often commented here, I don’t believe it’s a matter of grace or works, but rather grace and works. Before you bail on me, I wholeheartedly believe and affirm that we cannot be saved by anything other than the grace of God. Without grace, there is no possible way to “work” our way into salvation. Only our faith in Jesus and the grace He extends to us can secure our future with Him. The works we do are simply proof of our love for Him. If we are sincere in our devotion to Christ, obeying His commands – doing the things He told us to do – will be a natural extension of that love.
Ephesians 2:8 says that it is by grace we are saved; it is God’s gift to us. Verse 9 continues by saying our works cannot save us. However, verse 10 tells us the reason we were created was to do the works God intended for us to do. While our works will never save us, they are our responsibility to do if we truly love God and want to fulfill His purpose in our lives. How could you truly love someone without regularly expressing it? That’s not love. That’s being in a relationship solely for what you can get out of it.
When Jesus told the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46), He made it very clear what He expects of His followers. Perhaps somewhat uncomfortably, He also made it plain for us to understand that those who don’t do those things have no place in the Kingdom of God. This isn’t because feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, and looking after those who are sick or in prison saves us. It’s because a heart that is truly in love with and dedicated to Jesus will manifest that love by doing those things. We demonstrate we have experienced the grace of God in our lives by living in a way that looks like Jesus.
In Matthew 7:22-23, Jesus said that many will come to Him calling Him ‘Lord’, but He will turn them away because He never knew them. These are the ones who believed Jesus was who He said He was, but never accepted the grace He offered. They believed He could save them but considered the “sacrifice” they would have to make to accept it to be too much. Grace accepted is grace internalized; something that consumes your body and soul. Once we have been overwhelmed and transformed by the incredible and matchless grace of God, we cannot help but reflect the One who so mercifully gifted that grace to us. Our thoughts, words, and yes, our actions will be for His glory. Everything we do, our works, will be for Him. They are the evidence that we have received the grace of God, and that through that grace, we are truly saved.