Several gracEmail subscribers ask, if our obedience does not save us, what we do with all the scriptural admonitions to obey God and to be busy with good deeds.
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We take them seriously and at face value, keeping in mind the relationship they point out between our own activity and God’s acceptance of us. The gospel tells us that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself and that he accomplished that by Christ’s physical body through death (2 Cor. 5:19;Col. 1:21-23). The gospel is (literally) “the good news of your salvation” (Eph. 1:13) and it announces “the hope laid up for you in heaven” (Col. 1:5).
We respond to that good news by believing and being baptized — an act of trusting surrender to Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:18-20). In view of God’s mercy, we offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices, to be transformed into people who do what pleases him (Rom. 12:1-2). God’s grace trains us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives (Titus 2:12). Those who trust in God are to be careful to devote themselves to good works (Titus 3:8).
It is a godless deception to pervert God’s grace into sensuality (Jude 4). The person who understands God’s grace most clearly will serve God most zealously (1 Cor. 15:10). We cannot over-emphasize the need to obey Christ, to do good, to serve God and others — so long as we keep in mind that everything we do is in response to God’s grace in Jesus Christ which set us right with himself before we were even born. The old invitation hymn was speaking of Christ’s work when it urged: “Believe, obey, THE WORK IS DONE!” Because Jesus did the saving work, we are able to believe in him and to obey him for the rest of our lives (we “rest” in his finished “work” — Matt. 11:28-30; Heb. 4:5, 10).