Sunday, November 13, 2005

Grace VS Works?

I recently chimed in on a listserve discussion that I am in with a few guys from my church on the book of James. I tossed out the thought I have previously shared on this blog that I do not buy the Grace over Works stance. I spent some time thinking through my response and writing takes me forever, so I thought I would give my response more airtime so here it is:

I knew I couldn't bring this up without it being somewhat contentious, but it is not my intent. However, I think my point was unclear. My comparison with Grace Vs Works and Predestination Vs. Free will is that there is no vs. However, people often cling to one or the other and oppose those who do not cling to the side they do. There are many who deny the role of predestination and state that it MUST be free will. There are people who look at it conversely and fail to see the input and reality of the other side. Some people see Grace and Works as opposite or perhaps as one not needing the other. I tend to play Devil's advocate. I hear lots of Grace, I throw works scripture out there.... hear works, I throw Grace.

I think some of this comes down to the definition of Saved. Is Saved going to Heaven? Is Saved not going to Hell? Is saved what I am or what I am being? Is Saved a status or a process? Do we get saved or are we saved. Who saves? Do we play a role?

I am not convinced that because we are saved by grace that we cannot be saved by works. I am not sure that one precludes the other.

When Jesus separates the sheep from the goats it will be based on what they did or didn't do. There is no mention of Grace here (though I believe Grace is still in operation). This is not Theology or Doctrine. A timeless Messiah was looking at future history and telling us how he made the call. You fed me... you clothed me... you visited me.. Nothing is said here about what doctrine or theology the people subscribed to. No mention of a sinner's prayer. No repentance. Not even necessarily an awareness of who the sheep did these deeds for (as much as you've done it for the least of these, you have done it for me). Jesus presents himself in the distressing disguise of the poor, the sick, the lonely.... and one is a sheep or a goat depending on our response to him.

Saved by one's actions? Seems possible here.

It seems these people are possibly credited righteousness as Romans 4 says Abraham was. Abraham's faith was credited as righteousness. He wasn't righteous, but he was treated as if he was (and this was before Christ). James says that Abrahams faith and works went together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

I think God is actively looking to credit people righteousness. Christ allows him to make that desire complete.

Romans 2 states " God will give to each person according to what he has DONE. To those who by persistence in doing DOING GOOD, seek glory, honor and immortality he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking, who reject the truth, and follow evil there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for EVERYONE who does evil: first for the Jew then for the Gentile. But glory, honor and peace for everyone who DOES GOOD: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.

If you do a keyword search on DO, or DONE throughout scripture you get a lot of hits. No one talked about DOING more than Christ (though the Apostles make a nice second). Does Christ "save" someone who lives for self? I think his reaction to the Pharisees show that he has no interest in the right words, right theology, right doctrine while living a life of self interest and indulgence.

On the other hand, the good Samaritan shows that Christ had tons of Grace for someone who had decidedly wrong doctrine but a heart of self sacrifice and love for his neighbor (and this dude never even said a sinner's prayer...Jesus is such a rebel). Perhaps Christ is deciding who to dispense his Grace to depending on what they do.

Forgive and you will be forgiven, with the measure you use it will be measured to you, love your neighbor as yourself, if you have two shirts give one to him who is in need. So little doctorine and theology... so much action.

Sorry guys, for me, this is a both/and (with lots of possiblilities and wiggle room). Try to seperate them and you get a mess.
Related Posts with Thumbnails