May 15, 2021 — Working for or Because of Salvation?

“One of my neighbors invited me to do something the other day,” Stan commented one morning, “but I had to decline.  However, I think it was another instance of the truth of Romans 8:28.”

“What was that all about?” I asked.

“Several things,” Stan replied.  “First, as you know, that verse in the apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Rome says that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”

“Okay,” I said.  “How does that relate?”

“The reason I couldn’t accept my neighbor’s invitation is that I had a commitment at church to teach a class on discipleship.”

“Did you tell your neighbor that?” I asked.

“I did,” Stan said, “and that’s where the interesting part began.  My neighbor who is not a believer said something about that it seemed I spend a lot of time at church, and that I must be storing up a lot of points to get into heaven.”

“Great opening!” I replied.  “Did you take advantage of it?”

“Sure did,” Stan said, “and I think it may have opened my neighbor, at least a little bit, to wanting to hear more about Christianity, my faith, how to come to faith, and all of that.”

“What’d you say to him?”

“I was able to explain about salvation being God’s free and gracious gift that can’t be earned, only accepted.”

“What did your neighbor say to that?” I asked.

“He said that if that’s true, why do I spend so much time doing what I do with the church?  While he didn’t use the words, it was like he was saying,’If you’ve got your ticket to glory, why are you doing anything else?'”

“Then what?’

“I was able to explain the idea of working out the salvation that has been worked in.  That what I do is because of what God has already done.  I work for Him as thanksgiving for salvation, not to earn salvation.”

“Do you think your neighbor understood what you were talking about?”

“At least a little,” Stan replied.  “And that’s what he said.”

“What?”

“He said he had never heard that, and that he thought all those people in church were just trying to work their way to heaven.”

“So that was a good thing that your neighbor invited you to do something you couldn’t accept?”

“That’s what I was saying about the apostle Paul and the letter he sent to me, as well as to the church in Rome. I love God and I am called according to His purpose.  My role is to be available so God can do what He wants to do!”

Bible verses to consider:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28.

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.  Philippians 2:12-13.

For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:26.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your free and gracious gift of salvation and redemption through Christ Jesus.  Thank you I have the assurance of spending eternity with you when it’s time.  Thank you, too, that you want me to work out that salvation by being who, doing what, you intend for as long as you keep me on this side of eternity.  I confess that too often I do not do what you have for me to do because I choose to do something apart from you.  Please forgive me and please help me in following every step of your lead to where you want me to be, doing what you have for me.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this: Do you have the assurance of salvation so you know you will spend eternity in God’s presence when your time here is done? If no, why? Is it because you don’t know that God’s salvation is free and only needs to be accepted? If you have the assurance of salvation because you have accepted it by faith, how are you doing with working out that salvation through being a disciple?  As well as you would like? As well as God would like? If you sense the need for some changes, how are those changes going to happen? Can you do it on your own? Why or why not?

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