I haven’t blogged the last two weeks, because I was out of town. My family and I drove from Phoenix to Portland, OR, to visit my husband’s family. It was a really nice visit, but it was long, and I’m glad to be home now.
While we were there, my husband had the opportunity to be a guest speaker at the church he attended when he lived there.
The topic is one that is largely controversial. It was about how your works reflect your faith.
There are those who believe “once saved, always saved,” and any profession of faith in Christ, even as a young child, and despite any falling away in later years, means that you are still saved.
On the other extreme are those who believe that you must constantly be on guard, always doing good works, lest you lose your salvation.
Both positions back their stance based on the Bible. But, obviously, both can’t be true. They’re opposite.
If we are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8), then what we do isn’t a part of it. But, faith without works is dead (James 2:17), doesn’t that imply we must do something?
What, then? How can we possibly reconcile those two extremes?
The answer, I believe, is that true faith demands, and is evidenced by, obedience. Your works can’t save you, but if you are saved, you will exhibit a change in your lifestyle.
Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments,” (John 14:15) and “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me.” (John 14:21)
This concept is echoed in James 1:22: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
The way I understand that is, if you say you believe in Jesus, but don’t obey His Word, you are deceiving yourself. Perhaps you haven’t lost your salvation, but rather you never had it to begin with. If you are constantly justifying sin by saying you’re covered with grace, then you are proving by your actions you admire Jesus, but you don’t love Him. If you are not continuing to grow more Christlike, ever striving to obey more fully, then you are deceiving yourself. You are making your own religion, picking and choosing the rules you want to obey and disregarding the ones you don’t.
Be cautious with this kind of thinking. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.'” (Matthew 7:21-23)
If you say you love Jesus, if you claim His salvation, your life should display the proof of that through your obedience. If you’re not obeying, then examine your heart, and ask whether you are actually a disciple of Jesus.