God often requires us to hold more than one idea simultaneously in our thinking and conscience. On the surface, some ideas may seem to be in conflict. At the very least, there may be some tension between the two ideas. Truth and wisdom are discovered in understanding the tension and harmony between the two. The Greek word synesis is most often translated as “understanding.” It is like two rivers flowing together to form one river. It is mentally pulling or putting together multiple ideas. As Paul taught Timothy, “Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Tim. 2:7). Such is the subject of grace and works. Both ideas are redundant and prominent in Scripture.
Paul taught, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). This idea is clearly repeated in verses like Acts 15:11, Ephesians 2:5, 2 Timothy 1:9, and Titus 3:5. Like in the case of Abraham, there is a discernible pattern. God made a declaration to Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars of heaven (Gen. 15:5). Abraham believed God, and God credited Abraham’s faith as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). Like Abraham, we must trust in God’s desire to bless us. We receive God’s approval when we trust in Him.
Peter’s confession of faith revealed this same pattern by which we gain God’s approval and blessing. Jesus and His disciples had traveled to Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:13). Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matt. 16:13). They answered that “some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets” (Matt. 16:14). Jesus then asked, “But who do you yourselves say that I am?” (Matt.16:15). Peter unequivocally responded, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). “And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is heaven’” (Matt 16:17). The text uses the Greek word apokalyto, which means “to uncover or unveil”. The Father unveils to humans the true identity of Jesus Christ. We cannot perceive His true identity apart from a Divine disclosure. God’s unveiling is grace. It is a supernatural event. Faith or trust in God is grace. It is a gift. We humans simply receive the disclosure or unveiling. Our free will participates in the receiving of the Divine disclosure. God moves us, and we chose to receive His movement. This is how we gain understanding. However, if we are hard of heart, we resist His movement. We also have the free will to choose not to receive His movement.
When we have faith or trust in God, we experience salvation. At the moment of first believing, our destiny is changed. Because of our faith, God imputes His righteousness to us. If we die, we are qualified to go to Heaven. We are forever changed after the moment of first believing. Upon believing, we become qualified to have fellowship with God. His Spirit permanently resides in us. We are forever marked by the presence of the Spirit. We may or may not function in fellowship with Him, but His Spirit will always be in us. Again, our free will plays a part in our daily functioning and fellowship with God. If we are hard of heart, we resist the movement of the Spirit.
As mentioned in my blogpost: “Salvation is a Continuum,” the encompassing idea of Salvation includes more than just the first moment that we believed. It includes the need for spiritual growth. It includes our need to grow in faith. We want to, more and more, experience Kingdom Living, which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. We want to, more and more, live under God’s authority, accepting His will for our own lives. We must continually advance in our Spiritual Life.
After this life is concluded, we will appear before the Judgment seat of God (or Christ) (Rom. 14:10). Paul taught:
For no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, each one’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each one’s work. If anyone’s work, which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. (1 Cor. 3:11-14)
Paul added, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive compensation for his deeds [works or practice] done through the body, in accordance with what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor 5:10). God’s will, by definition, is good. Rebellion against God’s will is evil. Jesus Christ clearly stated that whether we practice good or evil will be considered as a part of His judgment (John 5:29). How we live and the decisions we make will have eternal ramifications. To say otherwise is inconsistent with Scripture and is sloppy thinking. In the Book of Revelation, John described the Great White Throne Judgment. Twice he mentioned that men would be judged “according to their deeds [works]” (Rev. 20:12-13). He used the Greek word ergon, which means “work, deeds, or labor.” There is abundant evidence in Scripture that God commands us to do “good works,” meaning “His works” (Matt. 5:16; John 5:29; Eph. 2:10; 1 Tim. 2:10, 5:10, 6:18; Tit. 2:7, 2:14, 3:8, 3:14; Heb. 10:24; 1 Pet. 2:12). Further, there is abundant evidence that we will be judged according to our works (Isa. 59:18; Ezek.18:30; Jer. 17:10, 21:14, 25:14, 32:19; Hos. 12:2; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:6, 2 Cor. 11:15; 2 Tim. 4:14; Rev. 2:23, 18:6, 20:12, 20:13). And, thankfully, yes, even in judgment, there is grace. Rarely, do we get the full measure of what we deserve; none of us are sinless (Ps. 103:10, 86:5, 130:3-4, 143:2).
Every Christian is challenged to reconcile the great Biblical themes of grace and works. I suggest that the two are compatible and harmonious. First, we are called to do God’s works, not our own. In the same way, Christ came to do the works of His Father, not His own (John 5:19, 6:38, 14:31, 15:10). He did not act independently of the Father. On the night before His crucifixion, He declared “Your will, not mine” (Luke 22:42; Mark 14:36). We are guided to do God’s work by His Spirit, Word, and Providence (God’s movement and provision in history for us). As I have stated many times, we are called to walk by the Spirit, wherein His Word is a light to our feet, trusting in Christ Jesus, while having no confidence in our inherent capacity to live this supernatural way of being. The New Covenant Spiritual Life is all grace. It is a gift of God. It is our new way of being “in Christ.” The most that we can be is a consenting subject to His will, an object of grace. We will be judged as to whether or not we believed that Jesus is the Christ, and we will be judged as to what degree, if any, we received and laid hold of the New Covenant Spiritual Life. Only God can make this judgment about us.
Because we all have sinned many times, Jesus Christ bore our sins on the Cross. After believing in the true identity of Christ, we are called to embrace a new way of living “in Christ.” If we sin, we simply acknowledge our sins to God, and we are restored to fellowship with God (1 John 1:9). At times, we will need to adjust or change our thinking or patterns of behavior. We must continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). Our first moment of believing and every moment of trusting and believing thereafter is all grace. The works that we seek to accomplish should be the works that God has directed us to accomplish for His glory. All of our thoughts, words, and deeds, whether big or small, seen or unseen, should be in His will and for His glory. We should seek to live in His presence continually (Ps.105:4). God’s calling is not burdensome. The Spirit is our primary teacher, and if we receive His movement, we discover that God’s yoke is easy and His load is light (Matt. 11:30). God has called us to have peace in ourselves and with others. We are called to receive a blessing and be a blessing to others.
 “G4907 – synesis – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (nasb20).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 27 Oct, 2021. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g4907/nasb20/mgnt/0-1/>.
 “G601 – apokalyptō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (nasb20).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 27 Oct, 2021. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g601/nasb20/mgnt/0-1/>.
 “G2041 – ergon – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (nasb20).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 27 Oct, 2021. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g2041/nasb20/mgnt/0-1/>.