Galatians 3:5 - Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
I have been bombarded by this works thing. Scripture after scripture tells us we cannot work for our salvation. I heard that faith is mentioned about 200 times in just the New Testament as the only condition required for salvation. We cannot work or buy our way, or others', to heaven. Salvation comes in believing and having faith in Jesus Christ. It's an individual, personal choice. Only in Jesus, the only way, truth and life. And that comes first by hearing.
No amount of sacrificing, keeping the Commandments, being active in a church or baptized (as a baby), without first the faith after hearing the Gospel, will save us. We can never be good enough for God's holiness. That is why we need His perfect Son as our Savior. Listen to what Jesus said: This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent. (John 6:29)
Also in this chapter of Galatians the Apostle Paul cites Abraham, who by faith ...obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country... (Hebrews 11:8-9) There are many people of faith listed in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews...Abel, Noah, Sarah, Moses, David, Samson, just to name some of the more recognizable individuals. They trusted God. They weren't all perfect people, but they had faith that God would do, supply, encourage, save.
Look at salvation this way, God calls us to go out to a place He has chosen for us. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). We know in part but not know fully where we will go. We do know the ultimate end is heaven if we heed His call but we can only trust God in our earthly journey. We do know this, that we will suffer, maybe persecution, rejection or death for our faith, but God also tells us that these trials produce perseverance (Romans 5:3) and if we endure to the end, the end will be glorious. Jesus died for us, after all. He knew suffering and He is able to strengthen us while we are in the midst of it.
So why faith and not works? Because it so totally glorifies God. If we could do anything for Him doesn't that put us right up there as trying to be like God?? Not good. He is glorified in how He changes us, not what we think we can accomplish which puts the glory on us. That's not good either. We must trust in Jesus' death to save us. We must give of ourselves to Him, admit our own shortcomings...no, make that sins...and rely on what He did for us, trust Him. Have this faith in One we do not see but have heard about. It has nothing...nada, zero, zip...to do with anything we think we are capable of doing.
Works play an important part once we have received Christ. We are told faith without works is dead (James 2:17). But faith comes first. So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17). Almost everyone has heard the Gospel. If anyone has read any of these blogs, they have heard the Gospel. If one has responded, they've done so in faith. If not...they may not have that faith or they may believe their works will save them, or they just don't care. We cannot do enough good in this world (because no one is good enough...not one person. Romans 3:10)
The opening scripture says that the Spirit of God is what gives us faith...which comes by hearing and this Spirit does the work in us to have faith. We must receive Christ without works but in pure trust and faith that what He says, what He represents and believing that He alone died for our salvation.
Everyone knows that good works are, well, good. If our works come before Christ, they do little to please God, but do a lot to please man, to give man credit. But faith in God followed by works, doing for the Lord after receiving Him, is pleasing in His sight. It glorifies Him. How? Because we have been saved by faith in Him, not by the works which are as filthy rags to God. Here we have a truth about our goodness and our attempt at good works...a two-for-one truth! But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags...(Isaiah 64:6) Hey, this isn't me...this is God!
People, to truly know God we must let go of our preconceived, worldly ideas of what God wants, what He looks for. He comes to us in our fallen state out of a pure love for the sick sinner. He wants to change us that we might be righteous through His Son. It's the only way. He's the only Way. We cannot attain righteousness on our own. We need a Savior and His name is Jesus. Call on Him and He will make you whole. He will clean up your act. He promises eternal life only if you choose Him, by faith, by hearing His word, acting on it and submitting (in a perfectly good way) to Him.
Romans 1:16-17 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith."