Grace, Works, Salvation, etc

09Jul08

People don’t have value to God because of their works.

Nearly every “good deed” of man has bad intentions behind it. With the exception of honest loving gestures even the greatest deeds of man are done so others see them or so God sees them and thinks the deed-doer is better than they really are.

The only true good deeds are done in honest gratitude towards God for all that he has given–as a humble token of thanks for the price He paid. This is not to be confused with repayment of a debt–such a notion would be in line with a person paying a loved-one back for a gift that was givent to them. It would be insulting and wholy degrading to both the Gift and the Giver.

God didn’t become man and die on a cross so he could hold it over us (even though he could rightly, justly do so). Christ died as a husband would die for his otherwise doomed wife–that is, he asks nothing in return.

The only merit good works have is to show gratitude to God and, in doing so, change us as well. We’re not helping God do his work–the guy spoke worlds into existence, he can certainly allocate resources to the poor (for example) without our help (actually, he could probably do it much more efficiently without us getting in the way) which leads me to conclude that God’s goal isn’t so much to help people phyisically as it is to 1) change us spiritually by making us more generous and loving and 2) to change others who get to witness the love of God either directly or indirectly (as direct recipients of good works or as third-person witness to them). Were God’s goal to change them physically, economically, etc; he wouldn’t need us.

Good works for any other purpose are lies. Lies to convince you, God, and/or others that your’e better than you are–that you’re more valuable and have more worth than you do or even than others do. The only true good deed says “I’m nothing without God and all he has done for me. This is all I have to give and I give it happily to you, God.”

To put it simply, works are a result of faith. They flow from gratitude for the grace we’ve been given (and which we recieved through faith). I believe the oft-quoted James reference, “faith without works is dead” means that one can lose faith and choose to grow apart from God (not necessarily losing salvation) and therefore lose works as well. Where there is faith, works will follow. If there aren’t authentic works, there isn’t faith (at that point in time–there may have been works and faith in the past but a person’s relationship with God might be suffering in the present causing fewer works and less faith at the time).

For God to be unconditionally loving, it can’t matter to Him what we do–good or bad. He can’t love us more or less for what we’ve done or what we will do. Like an ideal parent always loves their child and will always embrace them with open arms, so does God with us. He’s just waiting for us to turn to him and doing everything he can to sway us in the meantime.

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