Saturday, April 3, 2010

Grace and Works?

Galatians 2:20 (ESV) — 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

This is a continuation of the treatise regarding law and grace. The imagery of verse 20 is somewhat bitter sweet. The finality of being crucified with Christ is contrasted with the new life that he lives with Christ. What great imagery! Life and death are contrasted in this verse. This brings to mind Jesus' words in John's gospel.

John 5:24 (ESV) — 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

According to Jesus, the one who hears his words and believes him who sent him has eternal life. The imagery here is similar to Paul's. This person passes from "death" to "life." The contrast between death and life and profound. John continues this theme in his epistle:

1 John 3:14 (ESV) — 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.

Here the passing from death to life is centered upon a knowledge of a work. The passing from one to the other is centered upon the loving of our brothers. In reality, the words of Jesus mentioned earlier could be also centered upon a work: the hearing and believing. These works are what I would consider to be responses to the initial or prevenient grace of God. Make no mistake, our sovereign God is the author and finisher of our salvation. But, it is apparent that scripture is peppered with commands and instances where people had to respond to such grace.

Let's make this quite clear. As mentioned in a previous clipping, our salvation or justification is not based upon works. There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation or justification. All we can do is respond to it and accept it. It is not forced upon us nor are we cohersed into it (Rev 3.20). Once we are saved or justified, we respond once again to God's gift by loving our brother as mentioned in John's epistle.

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