…Continued from part one posted yesterday
Salvation is through grace! It is through the wondrous grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ that we can spend eternity with Him in Heaven. We do not earn grace, it is a gift given freely to us by Our Lord through His death and resurrection!
A gift is meant to be accepted. When you give someone a birthday present, you expect that they will open it! Furthermore, you hope that they will use the gift you gave them.
God has given us the gift of His grace through which we may have eternal life! To accept this gift is to put all our faith in the endless love and mercy of Jesus. To accept this gift we must accept the truth that Jesus if the Son of God. That through His death and resurrection, death has been defeated! To accept this gift means we accept all that Christ taught. And by our acceptance, we agree to live the way that He taught us to live. This is where the works come into play. Take a look at how Christ says we are to live our lives:
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” Matthew 5: 14-16
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40
When Jesus gives us this greatest commandment, He quickly follows it with a second commandment. Why? Because they go together. The first is an act of faith. To love the Lord with all that we have. The second is a commandment of how we are to treat others. To believe in Christ, to have full faith in all that He taught demands that we live a life that shows His love in us through our own works. Perhaps this is best described in Matthew:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46
This makes it perfectly clear that is we profess our belief in God and in Jesus Christ His Son, we must take that belief and live it! We must do as Christ did, follow in His footsteps, and express our faith through the works that we do. For the good things we do here on earth even to the least among us, are done for the Lord.
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” James 2:14-17
This is not contradictory to Paul’s words. Rather, it is meant to go hand in hand! The gates of Heaven are open to us through the grace of Jesus Christ. Through His death and resurrection, He has given us the amazing gift of eternal life with Him in Heaven. To receive this gift is to accept all that He has taught. By acceptance of His teachings and His grace, we are called to live out our faith through our actions to shine Christ’s light to all among us! We are called to live like Christ.
We cannot earn Heaven. The price for our sins was paid by Christ. But that does not mean we merely state that we believe and are exempt from our actions. By our belief in the saving power of Christ, we also believe in His commandments, which demand action from us. By choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, we are denying the teachings of Christ, and therefore denying His gift to us. When we sin, we have failed in our call to love Christ above all and to love our neighbors. Through our faith in His saving grace, we know that sin is not the end. Through this faith we have hope that, despite our failings, through the grace of God we are healed. We are called to live this faith through our every action.
Salvation is by the grace of God which we accept through faith in Him alone as our Savior and which calls us to live as He did, to love Him, to love others, and to serve others in His name.
*for more on this topic, check out one of my favorite blogs: Living the Reality of Jesus.