One unique thing about biblical Christianity versus other faiths and religions is our emphasis on grace. Put simply, instead of focusing on what we must DO to earn eternity with our maker, we recognized that Christ has already DONE it. There is nothing we must or even can do to earn that. It is a FREE gift.
However with this amazingly awesome news that salvation is a free gift that cannot be earned, some people then question the point of good deeds in the life of a Christian. James really knocks it out of the park with his emphasis on good deeds. After all, James 2:26 says “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead”. These good works are not something we do to earn salvation. Instead we do them for two simple reasons.
First, to show love back to our Lord and Savior as a sign of love and respect for what He has done for us. Think about when someone you know does something so amazing for you that you truly in awe. You are so surprised and excited about what they did you may even literally jump for joy. In those moments, what do you feel compelled to do? Most likely it is something to show your appreciation for that person. Even though you know the person did not do the thing in order to get that appreciation… they only did it out of love. However you instantly feel drawn to act… to do something that expresses that love in return.
Our ‘good deeds’ or works are exactly that. They serve as an expression of love to our Lord and Savior. Jesus was explaining this in a proverb, instead of referring to Himself or to God, He used an earthly king as the example. After praising his followers for serving him in amazing ways and his followers questioning the king, ‘when did we serve you this way’, the kings response (and God’s response to us) was “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matt 25:40)
Second, to show His love to the world. We are called to live holy lives, set apart from the ways of this world. We are called to make disciples of all nations. We can only do that through connecting with people of all nations and sharing the good news. But people don’t care what we know until they know that we care. We we do good works, it shows His love more than any words we can ever say. In fact, Jesus even said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
So yes, we are saved by confessing and believing. But we reach others by demonstrating His love through our “good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Rom 10:9b)
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