Reward of Works and Grace

Reward of Works and Grace

Introduction:  There are misunderstandings of both grace and faith.  These misunderstandings are often because of a failure to understand the context of a passage.  Because of this, we are going to talk about rules for the interpretation of Scripture in addition to faith and grace.

Ephesians 2:8-9 was one of the first passages I memorized.  What does it mean to be saved by grace and not be works?  Does this mean that salvation is by grace alone?  Or, is salvation by faith alone?  Some think salvation by grace means we do not have to be baptized, or that baptism is not essential to salvation.

Matthew 6:

[1] “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

[2] “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

[3] But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, [4] so that your giving may be in secret.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Psalm 62:

[11] One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, [12] and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.”

NKJV “For You render to each one according to his work.”

NASB “For You recompense a man according to his work.”

Matthew 16:

[27] For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Romans 2:

[6] God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”

[7] To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.  [8] But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

Revelation 2:

[23] Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

The harmony of grace and works:

The context of Ephesians 2 is that some Jewish Christians argued that gentile Christians should keep some aspects of the Law of Moses.  This made keeping the Law of Moses a requirement for salvation.

Ephesians 2:

[8] For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—[9] not by works, so that no one can boast.

[10] For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The context of Ephesians 2:

Salvation by grace means there is no salvation under the Law of Moses.

There were people who they were justified by the Law and did not have to obey the gospel of Christ:

Galatians 5:

[4] You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

Many Jews in Paul’s day believe they did not have to obey the gospel because they kept the Law.  They believed they did not have to be baptized because they were already saved.

Some Jewish Christians also believed some requirements of the Law must be bound on the Gentiles in order for them to be saved.

Paul addresses these kinds of issues in Galatians 3:

Galatians 3:

[26] So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, [27] for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

[28] There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  [29] If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

The context of Ephesians 2:8-10 is similar to Galatians 3 although the letters were probably written about 12 years apart.

Salvation by grace does not exclude the works of God:

This sounds strange to us today, but note Ephesians 2:10 again, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Titus 2:

[11] For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  [12] It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

A similar confusion exists relative to faith and works.  Biblical faith does not exclude works:

James 2:24  You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

This passage shows that faith and works are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, we are to desire to do the works of God (John 6:28-29).  There are works of God and works of human merit.  Biblical faith is expressed and defined by our response to God (Hebrews 11).

A young man once asked Jesus, “What do I still lack?” (Matthew 19:20).  His question was not about earning his salvation.

James 2:

[18] But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

J B Myers

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