Saved by Grace through Faith - Created for Good Works-A A +A
The Good News
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
IN MY previous article, I pondered on the very important question, “How can man be saved?” Putting it another way, “How can man attain eternal life?”
The words of St. Paul in his epistle to the Ephesians came to mind, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast” (Ch. 2, v. 8-9).
Initially, therefore, we are saved not because of our own merits. Not because of anything we have done. Not because we have been good enough to be entitled of our salvation. Why? Because the Bible tells us that our goodness pales in comparison to God’s perfect standards; our righteous acts are just like filthy rags before him (Is. 64:6). Only God is really good (Mt. 19:17); “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
But sin is not a trivial matter; any kind of sin would have been enough to throw us into hell. Romans 6:23 exposes this matter; it says, “The wage of sin is death…”
How then can we be saved in the face of this two Biblical truths – of the sinfulness of all men and of the declared penalty for sins, which is spiritual death? Wouldn’t salvation be impossible?
Gladly, we find refuge in another Biblical truth -- that what is impossible for men is possible with God (Lk. 18:27). What we humans cannot do, God did. How? By offering the life of his only Son Jesus on the cross as a substitute for the punishment due us, so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Thanks be to God, the way to salvation has been put in place. We only need to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). We only need to repent and be baptized for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38).
But our personal salvation story should not end there. Having been saved by grace through faith challenges us to remain in that state of grace by living our faith. The book of Ezekiel in the Old Testament warns us that if a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, all the righteousness which he has done in the past will not be remembered, and that because of his unfaithfulness, he shall die (Ch. 18, V. 24).
In the New Testament, Jesus himself declares that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” shall enter the kingdom of heaven but only he who does the will of the Father (Mt. 7:21). And in his teachings about the end-times, he emphasizes the importance of enduring to the end so as to be saved (Mt. 24:13).
Truly then, we are saved by grace through faith, but this faith must not be a dead faith. I must be faith that is shown by works (Js. 2:18). In Jesus’ own words, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:16), and “If you love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15).
In conclusion, I wish to go back to my foundational verses in Ephesians and make it more complete, that is, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of your selves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ch. 2, V. 8-10).
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 30, 2012.