August 4, 2006 Leave a comment
Works, Faith, Faith, Works, either/or, perhaps both… Different traditions have had different thoughts on this and as a result, caricatures of differing traditions have been used to ridicule the others. CS Lewis, as a layman, discusses the caricatures in the 2nd “Faith” chapter in Mere Christianity.
The other night, the question came up while meeting with a friend in that beacon of capitalism, Starbucks. The aroma of the Madagascarian/Maori blend brings out discussions like this, I’m sure.
A text came up in discussion, a text which in the eyes of some muddies things up instead of clarifying them, Phlippians 2:12b-13
“…work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
At first glance it seems that salvation is something one works at, we know from Ephesians 2:8-9 that Salvation results from God’s grace, His unmerited favor, so the first glance cannot be accurate. I believe that this text among others beautifully describes how we work after receiving God’s salvation, yet it is the Holy Spirit which so powerfully works in us (as the latter part of this text points out.)
Clarity increased as I was reading from the Gospel of Luke this morning on my way to work (no pun intended). I’m in chapter 7 where the woman washes Jesus’ feet in a touching display of humility and service to the Lord. What struck me was what Jesus told the woman after she was done with her act (or work):
“Your faith has saved you; Go in peace.” (Luke 7:50)
Jesus asserts what Ephesians 2:8-9 states, we are saved by grace through faith. Did the woman just sit there and look pretty and showed her faith that way? No, she pulled up her sleeves and performed a work relegated to servants. She showed her faith in Jesus by doing a work. She did what James described in the 2nd chapter of his letter:
“I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18)
James also describes Abraham, and one can draw a parallel to the woman from Luke 7:
“You see that faith was working with his (Abraham) works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected…” (James 2:22)
How verse 24 ties into all of this is a discussion for another day…