Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Galatians 3:3
The topic of grace and works is something that we don’t completely grasp. I’ve seen in my own life and in the lives of others a skewed picture of grace. Paul saw it too as he was writing to the Galatians. John Piper sees it in today’s world and wrote a great book about grace entitled “Future Grace”. It’s a little deep for me and I had to read it twice just to begin to understand it.
Here’s the problem. We believe and say that it’s God’s grace that saves us. We generally believe this, at least in Protestant churches (I can’t speak with authority on other denominations) and we can quote the verses like Ephesians 2:8,9 and others that remind us that it’s God’s grace that saves us. So, when we first come to Christ, we’re pretty good at recognizing that there’s really nothing of our own merit that can suffice to earn eternal life. It’s God’s grace.
Where we have trouble, I think, and Paul and John Piper seem to teach, that after we’ve accepted God’s grace, we kind of forget about the grace and begin to rely on our works, the things we can to do, to obtain God’s favor. Yes, it’s true, that a faith without works is a dead faith. However, after coming to Christ, we often start living a life sort of thinking that “If I do this….”, “If I can pray more…”, “If I teach this class, if I be this leader…” then that will grant me more favor in God’s eyes. That is, we begin to try to rely on our works and all those things we do and say to earn what God has already given us, free and clear, with no debt to repay. Yet we continue living as if we can somehow pay down that debt like a run-up credit card.
God’s grace is enough. Of course, we need to work out our faith and let the fruit of that faith and God’s work in our lives and hearts be visible and multiplying. But God’s grace was enough to save us and it is enough to keep us. God’s grace is enough to live and respond to all of life’s circumstances. God’s grace is enough to help us overcome all those issues we deal with. It’s foolish to think otherwise. It’s foolish to start with grace but finish with works. God’s grace is what saved us and God’s grace, as the hymn “Amazing Grace” goes, “will lead me home.”
I had a link to a great version of Amazing Grace in another post that you can hear here.