This week's Bible verse:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!" -- 2 Corinthians 5:17
There has been a big debate in the world over faith and good works. Some feel you are saved by grace and faith alone while some feel you are judged and saved by the good works you do in this life. Many religions ARE based on earning a place in Eternity by the good you do in this life. This all confused me for a long time. I WANTED to be a good person and go to heaven, so I TRIED to be good and do good. But, I also wanted to believe that God loved me and sent Jesus to save me...just by his grace. How do I balance those two ways of thinking in my own mind?
I have come to realize that they BOTH are true in a way. When you realize that God loves you SO MUCH to give up his son for YOU, and you give your heart to Jesus and believe in God's amazing plan with all your heart...then you WANT to good things and are LED by God to DO those good things. It's still up to you...God doesn't force you to be good and do good, but you WANT to!
Today's lesson lists and discusses several verses from the Bible that helps us to understand this concept even better. Grab your Bible and study along with me!
Ephesians 2:8-10 - explains it perfectly! At first, it seems to contradict itself...we are saved by grace and faith alone, not by works...but then verse 10 says that we were created to do good works that God planned for us in advance. But think about it...when you let God lead your life, you are saved AND you become instruments of God, doing His work and telling others what God has done in your life! A perfect plan!
Read Psalm 139:13-16 AND Jeremiah 29:11-13 (one of my FAVORITE verses!)
God knew us and created us before we were born AND He has plans to prosper us and give us hope and a future. He doesn't have plans to harm us, but to give us a good life and a future. He wants us to call on him, pray to him and he will listen. When we seek him with all heart, we will find him.
Jesus goes on to reinforce this thought in John 15:14-16 as he called us friends. He shared with us his knowledge of God so we could understand and give our hearts to God. A friend shares and listens and wants good for you, right? AND. Jesus goes even further to call his friends to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. What does that mean? We are to live lives that are pleasing to God, listening to his leading, growing in knowledge of our God, giving him joyful thanks at all times. By doing this, others will see God in us and might be led to God through us...bearing good fruit.
It's not about TRYING to do good...when you are seeking God with all your heart, you can't help but do good! We aren't perfect and we will still mess up and NOT to the right things sometimes...but we will have many opportunities to do what God leads us to do. I have found that the more I find myself engaged in God in my life, the more opportunities he gives me!
So there is really no debate. God know what He is doing! He saves us by Grace, and when we choose to really give hum our hearts and have faith in him, we WILL do good works!