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QUESTION: What is the difference between grace and works? 


ANSWER:  The very definition of the word grace excludes works of any kind.  Grace must be freely given or it isn’t “unmerited favor.”  Thus grace that requires any sort of work, effort or achievement on our part is not grace.


Good works, therefore, can in no way shape or form result in salvation or exaltation.  Good works are the natural result of saving faith.  Good works are done because we are on our way to heaven and never in order to get to heaven.


Salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone has been taught in the church since the time of Christ (sorry Martin Luther fans).  Paul spent chapters in Romans proving that every man – Jew or Gentile, is a sinner.  Salvation does not come by works of righteousness, by rituals (such as circumcision or baptism) or by keeping the law.  The law was not given to ‘keep’ it was given to condemn.  It was given to show us that we are hopeless without the grace of God.  Thus making the grace of God even more amazing.


Grace is needed because “nobody can live up to the whole law.”  In other words perfection is not an achievable goal in this life.  Those who think or preach to the contrary are not honest with themselves – and you know it! 


What peace would you have knowing that your eternal destiny was dependent on whether or not you missed one too many church services, tithe check, or church rule (some of which you probably have yet to learn)?  No peace…none whatsoever.  And again, if you’re honest, you know it!


The ‘step in line or else’ mentality is a fear tactic used from the top down in any organization that must control its members or fail to exist. 


Someone once said, “If heaven were by merit, it would never be heaven to me, for if I were in it I should say, ‘I am sure I am here by mistake; I am sure this is not my place; I have no claim to it.’  But if it be of grace and not of works, then we may walk into heaven with boldness.”


If you don’t want it, fine.  But God’s grace is available to you.  Like rain it falls on us all.  We must decide whether we are going to refuse it like the rocks and roads do – forcing it to run off.  Or whether we will be as good soil and flowers that have waited patiently – leaves withering as though almost in prayer – for the showers of God’s blessing, thankful to drink in every drop.


If God saved on the basis of merit, where would the drunkard be?  The blasphemer?  The unchaste?  Those whose hearts have cursed God?  Or those who have loved this world ‘just a little bit’ more than they have loved God?  In fact, where would you be?  But when salvation and exaltation is all of grace, then all your past, however black and filthy, need not keep you from coming to Jesus. 


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