The works of grace and our season of adventure
By Pastor Doug Cox
Sometimes there is confusion about what the Bible teaches about salvation. It seems the two following scriptures contradict each other. Philippians 2:12 makes it sound like we must earn our salvation. Paul writes, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” In Ephesians 2:8-9 he seems to say exactly the opposite. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Recently we went through the first six chapters of Daniel. Hopefully, you enjoyed as I did. Daniel’s story is an amazing one giving us great insight on how to live for God in a pagan world. His whole purpose for living could be described by these words. “Live for God no matter what!” He loved God so much he was willing to put his own life on the line rather than to cave to the world ways just to survive or get along. Somehow, early in his life, he discovered that God was amazing and worth living for. He knew God’s laws were given to keep him in a healthy relationship with God, as well as to keep his own heart and mind pure. None of the things (works) he did was to earn points with God. In Chapter one when he sought to have his daily food changed, he was working out his salvation. Later, in Chapter 6, when he kept his windows open and prayed toward Jerusalem three times a day, he was ‘working out’ his salvation. He was not trying to earn points.
Had Daniel ate the meat sacrificed to idols like they did and talked like they did and so on, he would have been no different than the pagans around him. Daniel continued to seek out wisdom from God, then worked that wisdom into the conflicts between his faith and his surroundings was his labor of love. We could look at it this way. Daniel loved the Lord with all his heart and a demonstration of that love was to use his faith to do the right thing in the situations he found himself in. To me his life symbolizes the works of grace. Lord as we move forward into a new season of spiritual adventure, help us find a deeper and greater love for You that will compel us to live that out love in the world around us.