FOLLOW-UP STUDIES

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Faith, Works and Grace: The Balance
 

One of the greatest travesties in the church today is that new Christians are taught to depend on self, to struggle up the road of salvation by works. This attitude may be created before he/she is baptized, in the Bible study setting. But more often this is an acquired deficiency, learned through observation of "older" Christians. Such an orientation undoes the work of the cross. Equally sad, however, is the school of thought that prides itself on having arrived at a true understanding of grace, only to condone and even encourage lukewarm commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ. Clearly we must strike the balance hence this study.

1. Faith

  • Hebrews 11:6
    And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

    We need faith to please God, but what is faith?
  • James 2:14-16
    14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?
    15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.
    16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?


    Faith is more than intellectual belief it results in action. Compare verses 20-24 with Genesis 22. Note the interrelationship between faith and obedience.
2. Works
  • Ephesians 2:8-10
    8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--
    9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
    10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.


    The Bible clearly teaches that we are not saved by our own effort, but this doesn't mean that God doesn't expect anything from us. It is an unearned gift, but it is conditional on obedience

    2 Kings 5:1-15
    1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
    2 Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman's wife.
    3 She said to her mistress, "If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy."
    4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said.
    5 "By all means, go," the king of Aram replied. "I will send a letter to the king of Israel." So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing.
    6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: "With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy."
    7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, "Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!"
    8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: "Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel."
    9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha's house.
    10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, "Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed."
    11 But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.
    12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage.
    13 Naaman's servants went to him and said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, 'Wash and be cleansed'!"
    14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
    15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, "Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. Please accept now a gift from your servant."
3. Grace
  • Titus 3:5
    he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

    We're saved not because of our righteous deeds, but by his mercy.
  • Jude 4
    For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

    Grace is unmerited favor or mercy. But the fact that we do not earn or deserve it does not mean that we can do as we like.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:10
    But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

    Grace will have its effect.
  • Titus 2:11-14
    11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.
    12 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,
    13 while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
    14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.


    It is because of grace that we strive to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives.