See previous post, The GraceFaithWorks Sandwich, if you like to take the second bite after the first. Long after!
I’m really not sure how to explain what I believe on the subject of salvation by grace, faith and/or works because I’m not sure that my language supports it. English is a very rational language, and speaks very easily of things logical and of things that are oppositional and therefore mutually exclusive because one is true and the other is false.
Maybe that’s because the cultures which speak it tend to think that way.
But the way scripture speaks on the subject puts the lie to salvation by grace through faith being totally oppositional to salvation through works.
My previous post, linked above, insists that it takes all three. That they are all integral to the process. That salvation is a process, rather than a one-time event. That faith without works is dead.
I alternate between two ways of looking at that perception:
- That salvation is a binary thing: the here-and-now and the hereafter; what we do here-and-now is integral to our salvation in this life by giving us purpose and serving God and testifying daily to our faith; what Jesus has done on the cross and in exiting from the tomb is irreplaceable to our salvation in the next life.
- That whatever a Christian does in this life is really not his or her own work, but God’s work through her or him. It is no longer we who live, but Christ in us. He created us for good works. We’re partners in the good works He does through us. He gives us the eyes to see them and the ears to hear of the need for them. He gives us the bodies, hands and feet to accomplish them. They become His hands, His feet. He gives us the energy and time with which to do them. He gives us His own example to show us how and why. He gives us His own Spirit to empower us to do those good works. If we don’t do them, we don’t really believe. If we know to do good and don’t do it, it’s sin to us. And if others judge our gospel by the way we live it or don’t, by whether we do it or not – why should God judge us any differently?
I don’t know which, if either way at looking at the subject is correct, or better, or even if they are mutually exclusive.
But I remain convinced that my old aphorism is still true: “Faith becomes fact when we act.”
No, not real fact; not fact that you can put in an encyclopedia. But functional fact. Something you believe so strongly that you act upon it as if it were true, every time, all the time.
Do you remember that great moment in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Indy has his instructions to cross a nearly-bottomless underground chasm on faith in order to reach the chamber where the holy grail resides? He steps out in the darkness, as instructed, unable to see the invisible stone bridge – camouflaged to look like the chasm! – until his foot rests on its solidity. Then, as he moves forward, his perspective changes; he can see it as clearly as can be.
Faith is still faith. It does not literally become fact.
But it does save us, like stone under our feet, to get us where we need to go in this life and the next.
If we’re willing to act on it.
Okay, that’s a big chunk to bite off and chew – expressed in as few words as I could write.
What do you think?
Next in this series: The GraceFaithWorks Sandwich – A Third Bite.