• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:6 ESV)

Law and GraceNo one may be prideful of the good works he has done – for they were accomplished through the mercy of God’s grace. No one may boast except of what God has done. Look at the Pharisees: They boasted that their superior relationship with God was based upon their obedience to God’s law. The Pharisees boasted and trusted in the strength of their own achievements in keeping the Law as the foundation of their salvation.

The Pharisees did not understand that their justification before a holy God could come only through faith. They failed to see that faith is a free gift received through God’s grace alone. This was not simply the problem of the Pharisees, it continues to be a human problem. It is our problem. Human pride causes us to believe that we can save ourselves from sin and earn our way into Heaven through good works. We have faith in ourselves and what we can accomplish. We believe in salvation by works. Yet, Paul clearly teaches:

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. (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)

The Law is not, in and of itself, a safe foundation for our salvation. The Law is God’s tool to break up the hardened soil of our hearts and minds. The Law exposes our sins so that we will turn to God in helpless repentance praying for His mercy and grace.

Like the Pharisees, many see the law as a guide for good works to gain God’s approval. Too many put works before salvation rather than after it. Our salvation is by faith through grace alone, but not by a faith that is alone. Good works are the result of salvation; not the cause.

Faith looks outside of our strength to the mighty hand of God who freely extends to us the gift of salvation. “Faith” looks solely to the resources of God. “Works” are man-centered and self-centered. “Faith,” on the other hand, is completely God-centered. “Faith” through grace admits our utter inability and poverty to attain salvation from sin on our own. Yet, we are sustained by the abundant riches of God’s grace. Faith in Jesus Christ through the grace of God is the only safe foundation of our deliverance from sins.

Samuel at Gilgal

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