How We Are Saved

Not by law, through certainty
Nor concord, through unity
Nor uneasy community
But by grace, through faith

Not by works of our doing
Nor correctly construing
Nor judgmental spewing
But by grace, through faith

Not by logic contrived
Nor by having arrived
Nor by feeling revived
But by grace, through faith

Not by praising heaven
Nor by having striven
Nor by our blood given
But by grace, through faith

To reach every nation
with words of salvation,
why not this recitation:
“It’s by grace, through faith.”

By Grace, Through Faith, Expressed in Works?

You can pretty much ideologically prove what you want to by citing one or two Bible verses and ignoring the rest of the Bible.

Salvation by water baptism only? Just isolate 1 Peter 3:18-22.

Salvation by belief and confession only? Romans 10:8-10 will do.

Salvation by belief only? Acts 16:31

Salvation by belief and baptism only? Mark 16:16

Salvation by loving the truth alone? 2 Thessalonians 2:10

Salvation by just hearing? Ephesians 1:13

Salvation that follows only through repentance and godly sorrow? 2 Corinthians 7:10

Savlation for women through childbearing alone? 1 Timothy 2:15, though you have to stretch the word “she” into “women” there.

Salvation only by staying with the ship? Acts 27:31

Salvation only by being an Israelite? Romans 11:26

Salvation only by being a Gentile? Acts 28:28

Salvation only by doing good things: feeding and clothing the poor, helping the sick, visiting the imprisoned? Matthew 25:34-40

Salvation only by grace through faith? Ephesians 2:8

Okay, the contexts of some of those are deliberately spurious, having nothing to do with the kind of salvation or “being saved” that we usually talk about. A few are outright silly.

My point is that we don’t always know what we’re talking about when we speak of salvation, or in what context it’s found in scripture, or how God bestows it.

Salvation isn’t a matter of “either-or,” but “and” and “and” and “and.”

Personally, my hermeneutic on salvation is seeing a lot of those scriptures describing it as becoming as much like Jesus as humanly possible.

He was human, so it is theoretically possible. He was and is divine, so it may be functionally impossible for the rest of us.

That shouldn’t keep us from trying.

Many of those scriptures above are attributes of an ongoing process called salvation which, according to Philippians 2:12-13, we work out by letting God work through us, “according to His good purpose.”

Therefore, the good works that we do are not our works, but His; He chooses to achieve them through us.

We give up doing what we want to do, and do what He wants us to do. We crucify self, and enthrone the Crucified in our hearts:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20

Salvation begins here and now, and continues in eternity forever.

As Christians, we choose and are chosen by God to be agents of that salvation in our own lives and in the world. We are literally God’s work in progress. He equips us for it with His own Holy Spirit.

So there is never a point, as long as we live, at which we can live a Christian life – a life of worship – without letting Him work through us. We do so in gratitude for what He has done for us, but also for what He will yet do through us.

And as long as we are His instruments of peace, there is never a point at which we have to be worried about our salvation.

It is given by God’s grace, accepted in faith, expressed through His work in us.

The GraceFaithWorks Sandwich

Don’t miss the convicting and motivational post today on Chris Gonzales’ blog.

And give me just a moment to share (again) an insight that one of his thoughtful, earlier posts inspired me to add as a comment:

“Grace, faith and works are inseparable components in the way God saves us.

“Which component can you leave out and still have a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich? Bread? Peanut butter? Jelly?

“I think grace, faith and works are part of the sandwich.”

May I add that grace and faith are great … but by themselves they don’t paint the barn?

My crumbling preference for a grace-and-faith only relationship with God keeps getting bowled over by things like Jesus’ prophecy of the sheep and the goats (“…you did it not unto me.” – Matthew 25:31-46) and what He revealed to John (“The dead were judged according to what they had done ….” – Revelation 20:12).

When I feel proud that my faith is deepening and must be sufficient, I get jousted right off my high horse by Ephesians 2:8 (“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”).

Deep down I know that I can blog all I want to, teach all the Sunday School classes I’m asked to and write all the HeartWorship encouragements I can … but if I don’t LIVE OUT what I believe, I have absolutely zero credibility and my faith without works doesn’t work … it doesn’t even breathe (James 2:14-26).

And then there’s the secret ingredient to the GraceFaithWorks sandwich.

If I do what I do to puff up myself – instead of doing it out of love – I’m just making noise … I am nothing … I gain nothing (I Corinthians 1:1-3).

Next in this series: The GraceFaithWorks Sandwich: A Second Bite