“I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. ”
“knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”
Two scriptures given by the Spirit of God as all books, scriptures, verses are written by human hands but inspired and instructed by God Almighty.
As we read both verses, we notice a contradiction: faith or works? This conflict has become a difference between various Christian communities or doctrines.
Others believe that we are earning our salvation through our faith, by confessing and repenting, receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
Others believe that all the above is fine but baptism is also an important element to receive salvation. Repenting and confessing is not sufficient.
A third category highlights the importance of our works. They do believe Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour but only people of good works will go to Heaven and those of bad works will end up in Hell.
The truth is somewhere in the middle and touches all the above beliefs. I believe that the answer is concluded in the follow scripture:
“For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.
Whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.
But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions and strivings about the Law; for they are unprofitable and useless.”
Do we need more clarification on the above?
I understand that all the three above doctrines described above are all three correct beliefs but not as individual but as the total of all three of them:
It is true that:
- We are all sinners: foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy and so forth! We might not have all the above bad characteristics but some of them…are enough!
- Jesus Christ appeared; He was crucified; He died and was raised again; and all that …for us to have access to salvation! He did the ultimate sacrifice! We are saved by grace, His mercy and through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. I see the baptism in the water and baptism in Spirit (fire) as part of the whole process. We can see it as a symbolic act or essential one, however, the point is that it is to be done as the Lord and the members of the first church did it. It is not under negotiation, we just do it!
- Salvation is not by works – good works of righteousness – but because of His mercy. It is through grace. No matter what we do or how much we try, we will never be worthy of salvation if Christ was never crucified!
- However: “those who have believed in God should be carful to maintain good works.” So, we might debate as long as we like whether salvation is received by faith + baptism + works or any other combination of the above, the facts remain as such: we follow Him; we follow His instructions; we ought to follow His commandments.
Essential or not to our salvation, we need all acts described because HE ASKED US TO DO SO!
- Receive by grace and mercy;
- Get baptised;
- Do good works and all He asked as to do, including how to practice and declare our faith.
We are not the masters! We belong to Him, we follow Him, we imitate Him…so we act according to His acts.
Let’s avoid foolish disputes, contentions etc…are useless!
At the end of the day…
He is who searches the minds and hearts! The faith is confirmed by the works and the works are inspired from the faith. When we are renewed by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3v5c) there is no other way than the accord of our works and the faith. The Holy Spirit brings the changes!
“Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
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