Is It Really That Simple?
Salvation, mankind’s ability to live in the presence of God forever, is often a difficult concept to grasp. One of the biggest areas of confusion is with “good works.” Do good works get you to heaven?
The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans serves as a short course (cliff notes) for understanding our God and Christ’s work on our behalf. Salvation can be summarized into three simple concepts:
- The Gift
- The Work
- The Prize
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” ~Romans 5:1-5
“The Gift” is God’s grace, extended to mankind even though it is not deserved. Paul calls this justification by faith. We must understand that mankind is separated from God because of our sinful nature. However, it was through Christ’s work on the cross and our faith in Christ that brings us into fellowship with our God. This is something we cannot do ourselves, no matter how hard we work.
“The Work” is our service to God. Charity, stewardship, using our talents to make the world better is the work. Paul calls this work sanctification. It is work done not because it is profitable to us, but because of our love for God and love of Christ.
“The Prize” is often called glorification. Simply stated, when we are finally in eternal proximity to our God, we will have reached true glory. Yes, it is this simple: accept the gift so our work can be of benefit to God and assure yourself of the prize, eternal life.
Salvation is not something we have to wait for, it starts the moment we accept “The Gift.” When we have faith in Christ, when we are repentant for our sins, our labors can become rewarding and our burdens lifted.
Have you personally accepted Christ’s gift?
Are you thankful every day for the gift of Christ’s work on the Cross?
Do you see purpose in all things, even the burdens of life?
Are you filled with hope even though our world is filled with hopelessness?
While loving others does not mean we are to accept their injustices, does your attitude make you stand out as a person of “love?”
A Labor of Love
The Apostle Paul really is trying to simplify our lives. He even defines “The Work” for us in 1 Corinthians 13. He clearly expects us to behave differently than those who have not accepted the hope of salvation.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. “
Our work is to love everyone and it is work. We are a people of justice and want God to even the score. But God wants us to even the score with love. In a world filled with pain, suffering, war, deceit, etc., love is often in short supply. But the world is watching and you may be the only Bible someone ever reads. Your work matters, your love matters in this world.
Your tip, therefore, is to remember to love as Christ loved, feeding the hungry, comforting the sick, sharing the story of your faith walk with others—not bad work if you can find it!