Is It of Works of Is It Grace?

jesus-calms-the-storm

In the gospel of Mark we read about a great contrast of Jesus resting in His Father’s will and the disciples fighting to save their lives all in the same place and at the same time…

And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him just as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the rear of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awoke him, and said unto him, Teacher, care you not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. (Mar 4:36-39 KJ2000)

What and insult the fearful mind of man is to God. “Don’t you care that we perish?” The Son of God was in perfect peace and rest even as a great storm bashed away at the little boat they were in. He knew the end from the beginning. Didn’t He hear the Father say, “Go to the other side of the lake”? After all we know that He only spoke the words He heard His Father saying.

I think that the  second to the last paragraph in my last blog article “The Process of Faith…” has pulled a lot of us off coarse and I apologize for that. The heart of the questions that have come up regarding it seems to be this, “Is it of works or is it grace?

Paul wrote,

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;) And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:4-7 KJ2000)

Wait a minute! I thought we were saved by faith? But here Paul writes that we are saved by grace! You see, God is the Prime Mover in our salvation and desires to be such in our lives as well. It is because of His mercy and grace that any of us are saved, not because we have worked hard enough to earn it. He even gives us the faith we need to believe in His Son!

So where do works come into the Heavenly picture? He has made us ALIVE with and IN Christ! The works are not our own, but of Christ in whom we dwell. As Paul said in Acts, “In HIM we live and move and have our being… for we are also His offspring.” We who are born from above live in Christ, move only in Christ for IN Him we have our very beings. If we are still living in and of ourselves all that we do, no matter how “good” the works we do might be, they will never satisfy the Father for only those works which are inspired by and come out from the Father and the Son have any eternal weight of glory in them. Yes, we have been saved by grace and the faith of Jesus which the Father has put in our hearts, but as we see in this passage, we are then MADE TO SIT in heavenly places IN Christ… that same Christ who was dying on the cross and cried out “It is FINISHED!” If we are not resting in the Father’s grace and Jesus’ completed work on the cross, we can NOT walk by faith.

Jesus said, “My Father works still and I work.” This is the only work that counts in the Father’s kingdom and for His kingdom purposes. To the natural man, the Adam nature within, grace is an insult. The old nature of Adam has been snake bit for that serpent of old said to Eve, “For God knows that the day you eat of this tree, you will be like God knowing both good and evil.” Oh, how the fallen adamic nature within wants to be “like God.” How we love our “good works.” It is all about the source of the works we do that makes the difference. Jesus said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up.” He did not say that it would never take root, but that it would be rooted up. So, our efforts to be “like God” in our state of rebellion (not abiding in Christ and His rest) leads us into doing all kinds of “good works.” But guess what, just as we have to be born from above by the Father, so all works that are done and are to remain, these also must be born from above as well.

God worked six days and then He rested on the seventh. Man was created at the end of the sixth day. Man’s first day began with creation’s seventh day, God’s rest. So in Hebrews we read, “For we who have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, they [the Children of Israel in the wilderness] shall not enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world” (Heb 4:3 KJ2000). God is timeless and He is not like us who are bound by our clocks and calendars. To Him a thousand years are like one day and a day is as a thousand years. His works were foreordained from the foundation of the world. He put the whole thing in motion and invited us who are His sons and daughters to enter into not only His rest, but also those works that He has foreordained to happen down through the ages. Hebrews goes on to say,

There remains therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. (Heb 4:9-11 KJ2000)

In HIS rest we cease from our own labors and truly begin to walk by faith. Now that we are saved, do we become totally inactive? No, we become obedient to HIS workings as we are activated by the Holy Spirit, following His leading and being empowered by His grace to do those works that He has foreordained from the foundation of the world that we should walk in them. All of our imaginings are to no avail when it comes to  doing the works of God. Peter wrote, “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1Pe 1:19-20 KJ2000). Do you see what I mean by timelessness in God? Christ was crucified in the mind and plan of God from the foundation of the world, but it was not made evident to man until 2000 years ago, thousands of year after the initial six day of creation. So it is with all His works that He seeks to manifest in and through us! To be in His rest is to be in-tune with His will.

We who are Christ’s have rested from our own works, the works of fallen Adam who tries so hard to be “like God” and a god unto ourselves. Oh, how the religious mind of man is deceived! How he fails to enter into God’s rest and move only by God’s grace. We watch church program after church program that leaders thrust upon their congregations  and what comes of them? Another failed attempt to prefect in the flesh what God has started out in the Spirit (see Galatians 3:3). Paul says it so plainly,

For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:8-10 KJ2000 – emphasis added)

Here in these two verses we see “not of works,” “His workmanship” and “created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” Which way is it, Paul? Is it not of works or is it unto good works? A Pharisee came to Jesus and said ,”Good master…” Jesus answered back, “Who do you call good?” Only one is good and He is our Father in heaven.” Our Christian lives are not about us or our goodness! Any doing that happens in us is not of our  works! In us dwells no good thing, unless that indwelling is the life of the Father which was put in us at salvation. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights…” (Jam 1:17 KJ2000). So we must understand that the Father has created us IN His Son, Christ Jesus, and it is from abiding in Him, the True Vine as HIS workmanship that we bring forth good fruit (See John ch. 15). Do we imagine a “good thing” to do or set out to do something because we read about it in the Bible? NO! We abide in the Son IN whom we have been created and then the Father’s works which were ordained form the foundation of the world are ours to walk in. Without entering into HIS rest, we will never know those works, much less walk in obedience to the Father as Jesus did. Our frenzied minds which seek to cover our spiritual nakedness with religious garments of fig leaves must be crucified. We MUST have the mind of Christ or we will never know the Father’s works much less do them.

So, is it of grace or of works? Both… His grace and HIS works. We can not generate His grace and we can not generate HIS works. Father is our All in all.

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:14-19 KJ2000)

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23 comments on “Is It of Works of Is It Grace?

  1. Rex Sheeley says:

    This is deep stuff brother hard to grasp with the intellect this kind of truth can only be lived out in the context of daily life as the local body of Christ. The Church on a very local level is the pillar and foundation of the truth. I can only imagine tasting honey for the very first time and then discovering the process and life of the bee hive. Something so sweet as truth is fleshed out in the real world of the body life.
    Rex in Jesus

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  2. Markus says:

    It’s such a hard thing for our pride to accept the fact of total inadequacy… and so this guy is constantly seeking around to find some good reason “we’re not all useless but can do something!”
    You put it so right, brother, we’re saved by grace… and His grace alone is the foundation of every action we look at as ours being blinded in our limited state of earthly existence.
    He is the AUTHOR and He is the FINISHER of “our” faith… and this faith is gift of grace, too.
    Every good work pleasant in His eyes is the work…which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:10 NIV)
    By “natural sight” this all looks quite different. Here we see us challenged, us being stretched and tried… and in us the battle is raging to give in to the demands of this world or to cling unto faith, staying faithful to His word.
    But we shouldn’t be mistaken to judge spiritual realities by visible realities! Grave mistake! It is Him in us – the hope of glory – who by His spirit in us is enabling us to do works He has prepared in advance for us to do.
    Natural man defines himself by what he DOES… spiritual man defines himself by what he IS. It’s DOING versus BEING!
    BEING in HIM and His “heavenly juice” will work out His fruit in me – a fruit lasting. Doing much here on earth (giving all my wealth to the poor, letting my body burn etc.) without “His juice” being the source of origin it will be nothing like a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal”.
    Let’s see what our God is after… by first looking on what He isn’t impressed with:
    If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
    If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I am nothing.
    If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I gain nothing. (1.Cor. 13:1-3 NIV)
    And now let’s look what He looks after:
    Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul and with ALL your mind.’ (Matt. 22:37) (Little question between: What remains if ALL of us is loving Him? What can be invested it other activity… when my ALL is already consumed by HIM?)
    Perhaps someone will say now: See, we have to do something! We have to love Him with all we are!
    Well, Paul puts this into the right perspective when he writes… because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Ro. 5:5)
    Right, GOD HAS POURED… HIS LOVE… INTO OUR HEARTS… BY (HIS) HOLY SPIRIT… WHOM “HE” HAS GIVEN US.
    I know this is so hard for natural man to accept but He is our ALL in ALL… and nothing can be added from our side WHAT HE NOT HAS GIVEN US BEFORE.
    So we can me very sure: The next time we see us being a blessing to someone else… it is HIM in us who enabled us to do so… and the only thing required is to look at us by His eyes! This straightens everything out immediately.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

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  3. Gaby says:

    Many try to solve the mystery of God and His kingdom in one way or the other….
    The best way to find out is; to live His word, which testifies of it.
    G.

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  4. Hosea says:

    AMEN brother….agape

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  5. Mia says:

    Hi Michael
    I want to read this post a few times more for I could only glimpse the riches buried deep in your words, but my first thought when I started reading your post, and I couldn’t wait to tell my husband, was that when our Pappa first created the world, he put the first Adam in the world. With our Lord Jesus, the second Adam, He has put “new” sort of world in Him with us all in Him as well.

    That is our only hope of glory … to be found in Him, allowing Him to live His resurrected life in and through us. I hope I make sense!!!

    I understood what you wanted to say with your previous post, but thanks for your apology anyway!

    Much love in Him

    Your sister
    Mia

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    • Mia,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, to be found in Him as our All in all. “Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1Jo 3:2 KJ2000). Dear Lord, fully open our spiritual eyes.

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  6. Kinda at a loss for words Michael. Rare eh?
    This is a wonderful post, filled with the reality of what Jesus can and will accomplish if we would merely allow Him. It took a long time for me to see these things and yet I still wrestle at times in the midst of the waiting.
    Our works are unbelief- a failure to trust in His will and abilities alone. It seems many grasp this in relation to justification and yet fall short thereafter. We need to find Him, not merely as a Savior who rescues us from darkness, but for who He really is, life itself.
    Grace to you my friend, and all those who walk and rest in the triumphs of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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  7. Markus says:

    [Our works are unbelief- a failure to trust in His will and abilities alone. It seems many grasp this in relation to justification and yet fall short thereafter. We need to find Him, not merely as a Savior who rescues us from darkness, but for who He really is, life itself.]

    Perfectly said! AMEN!

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    • Michael F. and Markus,
      My wife was raised in the Free Methodist (oxymoron) denomination. She was taught that Jesus had the power to save them, but it was up to the “saved” to keep themselves saved for God was powerless to do that. They were encouraged to go to the altar every Sunday and “re-commit” their lives to Jesus if they could think of even one little sin committed during the week. She is now free from dead works and knows of God’s power to keep her. Praise His name!

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      • oikoskrk says:

        Michael, I went to a Free Methodist college. One of my Free Methodist professors was asked to speak at a United Methodist “church”. During the sermon the old ladies in the front row were talking among themselves, so much so that my prof stopped sharing and right there asked them what they were talking about. One of the ladies answered by asking him a question. She asked “JUst what makes you and your denomination so free?” My prof took it in stride and simply said….”We are just as free as you are united.” After that no one else said a word.

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      • Chris,
        My wife graduated in ’68 from Seattle Pacific another FM college after we have been married about a year. A man named Eden Truebood spoke at her graduation and I was so impressed that I started seeking Christ for the first time in my life and was saved about a few months later. Have you ever heard of him?

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      • Markus says:

        There are so many believing in a “second- or thirdhand Jesus”… in a Father and God how he was presented to them by others. In the very moment the true Jesus is the source of my life… all the shades, “mis-images” and conceptios of man will become obsolete. He clears the ground… and we start to bear His image instead of the given images by man.
        Job said it so perfectly: I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
        This “my eye sees you”, this direct and personal knowing Him clears all, makes everything straight.
        No matter the culture and background we come from the ones knowing their master recognize the “true Him” in the other and are one “by Him in them” right from the start.
        They need no church, no “passport”, certrificate of spiritual correctness as basis for fellowship… it’s just enough to see Him and this is more trustworthy than all human efforts of standardizing Him after man’s liking. Even their uniqueness, their god-give differences in character and mood… yes, even their “rubbing-at each-other” will never separate them but rather result in more Christ-likeness.
        We have to know Him first and presonal other this will never come true. He and He alone is the source of true unity… all images will easily be exposed by their fruit: separation.
        So He is our everything! He chose us! He called us! He saved us! He is our sanctification! By His word we live… and He is the source of all we bring forth pleasing in God’s eyes. Yes, He is our everything!
        And as more will turn away from the empty fountains of religion as more will turn their whole being towards Him alone… as more we will see Him in the other and true brotherhood is just there as the product of Him in us. A body pulsating by vibrant life only He can bring.

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  8. Awesome comments Markus! There is much truth in what you said above. I checked out your site- many good articles there. Do you write anything yourself?

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  9. Markus says:

    Thanks, among the found (hope you don’t mind my little “name-change” :-)… well, when you checked the website you have seen quite some articles written by me. You will find an author there whose name is Markus… and that’s me. If you like just click one of the e-mail links provided at the end of each article and write me… you’re welcome!

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  10. sue D says:

    I have been searching the past 5 days to understand grace and works because of a situation at work.. I struggle, but also sense it is about resting in what God has done. Is this right? Also i was sharing scripture with a friend and realized that can be “the letter of the law” rather than just loving and accepting her as God does. Your writing is deep but challenges me to think also.

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    • Sue,

      Thanks for writing. God has been showing me a lot about abiding in His rest lately. Look up all the verses that use the phrase, “foundation of the world,” in them. You will find that God did all His works in Christ from the foundation of the world then He rested from His works. Adam’s first day was God’s seventh day, the day of His rest. God created man to rest from his own labors and abide in His. All we can do as those who believe in Christ is rest in His finished works. You see, this takes faith In Him alone and putting no faith in what we can accomplish for God. Do we work? Yes and no. We only do the works that God has foreordained from the foundation of the world that we are to walk in and that is found only as we rest in Christ.

      I once prayed, “Father, make me like your Son, that I would only do the works I see you doing and speak only the words I hear you saying.” I had enough time to think to myself, “That was sure a righteous prayer.” To this He replied, “NO, my son. This is only the STARTING point!” We can quote scripture and do “good works” all day long, but unless God is the Prime Mover of our works and words it is all for not… so many dead works and the religions of men thrive on them, but not God’s kingdom. But be warned… when we start praying to be conformed into the image of God’s own Son, everything in us that is not of Him will be shaken until only that which is Unshakeable remains. Isn’t that what true fellowship IN Christ is all about?

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      • grannie says:

        Michael can you explain a bit more about when God said to you “No my son this is only the starting point”

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      • Grannie, you asked about what I wrote:

        I once prayed, “Father, make me like your Son, that I would only do the works I see you doing and speak only the words I hear you saying.” I had enough time to think to myself, “That was sure a righteous prayer.” To this He replied, “NO, my son. This is only the STARTING point!”

        Jesus told a story once and it went like this:

        But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to eat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready that I may eat, and gird yourself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward you shall eat and drink? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. (Luke 17:7-10 KJ2000)

        The starting point in the economy of God is not when we start serving Him in the field, but rather when we serve Him in His house. This implies intimacy and fellowship. When God told me that the starting point was when I started living before Him as an obedient son and household servant, THAT would be the starting point when Jesus, the Son, had been allowed to take control in me and serve the Father through me. Until that happened all my Christianity “out in the field” had been unprofitable. That old Adam in us can do nothing for God. Only the Son can do the works of God in and through us. Fruit unto the kingdom of God comes from obedience in His kingdom, under HIS reign, “If you abide in me, I will abide in you and you shall bring forth much fruit.”
        Jesus prayed, “That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me.”(John 17:21 KJ2000). Without us living in unity with the Father and the Son as sons and daughters of God, there is no witness of the kingdom of God in this world.

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  11. grannie says:

    Thank you , i understand.

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