I know I have written this fifteen times or so. So rather than continue to rediscover electricity, I decided to put this in blog format then link or cut and paste.
So many many people are confused about the relationship between God's grace and human faith and works. There is a vast number of those who claim to be Christians who teach such nonsense as: we are saved by faith alone by Christ alone through grace alone. In so doing they demonstrate a lack of understanding of all three...not to mention what the word "alone" means. I'll address what Grace is in a separate lesson, but right now I want to address the relationship between Grace and obedient works of faith as taught in scripture.
First of all, no one denies that Grace is not only necessary for salvation; it is the root cause of it. Without Grace, the rest is moot and not worth even bringing up. Most people can't properly identify Grace, but again, that's for another lesson. However, one thing that must be made clear, Grace is not salvation. Grace causes salvation. Salvation is therefore the effect. Stating the Grace is salvation is to say that the cause is the effect, which is illogical.
On to my analogy. If we think of the metaphor of a lamp, we would say that the power cord makes my lamp work and without it, the lamp would not work. Yet we know that it is actually the electricity that powers the lamp. Without electricity, the cord is useless and the lamp does not work.
The cord is like obedient faith. Electricity is like Grace. Electricity is available but the lamp has to be plugged in for the electricity to power it. In that same way, God has provided Grace. He didn't have to. We didn't deserve it. He gave us that gift because He loved us even while man was still lost in sin (Rom. 5:8). That Grace is available to all men (Titus 2:11). But we have to "plug into" that Grace. God says we must have faith (Eph. 2:8) and describes that faith throughout scripture as obedient faith (Romans 4; Heb. 11; James 2).
So the proper understanding of obedient faith is as a conduit through which Grace flows to cause salvation. Together, God's Grace and our obedient faith are the cause and conduit that affects salvation without either, salvation doesn't happen.
There is nothing about earning salvation by trying to work off a debt. This is what Paul addressed in his letters, especially to the Romans. The Old Law could not actually save. One either kept it entirely or was condemned under it. The works according to that law were empty, useless with regard to salvation. At best, they could only point forward to Christ. The works of self-righteousness, of the Mosaical Law, and certainly of evil are all incapable of saving.
Works of obedience, however, are not only capable of saving, they are absolutely necessary, not as a causal force, but as the means by which God has chosen to channel His Grace to us. We in the church must not be afraid to believe this, to state this clearly and without fear of those who believe otherwise. Works save. James was very clear about that. We just have to understand what kind of works and how they save.
Finally, for those who hold to eternal security, the once saved always saved doctrine, what happens if you unplug the lamp? Will it work any more? What happens if you unplug yourself from Grace by refusing to continue in obedient faith? John wrote: "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1John 1:6-7)
In Truth and Love