Summary: Grace and works are both important if the Christian is to live a valuable life of service to the Lord.
For the last several weeks we have been studying from the Book of 1st Peter. And for at least two of those weeks I have concentrated on and stressed the grace and mercy of God. Today, I would like to continue that theme and perhaps build upon the foundation already laid. But before I begin let’s go over our definitions for grace and mercy. Mercy is that attribute of God that causes Him not to give us what we deserve while grace is another attribute of God that causes Him to give us what we do not deserve. Now as Christians the term “grace” is not unfamiliar to us. We have all heard of grace especially as it pertains to salvation for the scripture says: “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.” (Eph. 2:8)
And yet even though many of us know intellectually that our salvation is a gift given through the grace of God, and that it cannot be earned, grace is one of those theological terms that we rarely internalize or make personal. And as a result how many Christians live their Christian lives as though they did need to earn salvation? For instance, how many give money in the offering plate because they think they have to in order to be saved? How many attend church every Sunday because they think they have to in order to be saved? And how many talk to others about Jesus and what’s contained in the Bible because they think they have to in order to be saved? Far too many Christians do the things I’ve just mentioned not because they are trying to please God, but they do them as sort of insurance, just in case this grace thing is not all it’s said to be. And yet if they understood the grace of God there would be no need for insurance, or a backup plan otherwise known as plan B.
But there are Christians who live that way because they are confused about the grace of God. And why are they confused, because too many of them have listened to others who are just as confused as they are. Let me give you an example. When I was a boy my family joined the World Wide Church of God headquartered in Pasadena California. Now at that time the World Wide Church of God was a cult. And it was a cult because not only did the Pastor General of the Organization deny the personality of the Holy Spirit but he also insisted that in order to be saved you had to keep parts of the Law of Moses. After seven years I left that Church to join the Navy, not because they were cultic but because I was sick of religion. But unbeknownst to me when I left the Worldwide Church of God I took what they had taught about God and salvation with me. Now during the entire time I was in the Navy the Lord had been graciously working with me and when I was discharged several years later my new wife and I both felt compelled to go to church. So we did, and a short time later both of us confessed Jesus as Savior and we were baptized at the First Baptist Church in Broomfield Colorado. But there was a problem, because even though I was baptized and said I believed in salvation by grace I still carried in my heart the idea of salvation by works. And I did that for several long years.