Faith is the capacity God has deposited in every human heart to respond to His grace, (See Romans 12:3.) He is the Author of our faith (See Hebrews 12:2.) But while He created our faith and placed it in our hearts, He will not exercise it for us. So in the sense that we are to exercise the faith He has given, it can be said that faith is our part. Even so, He does not leave us to exercise the gift of faith on our own. Not only has He given us faith as a free gift, He also takes upon Himself the responsibility of awakening our faith to action. He does this by drawing our attention to His infinite love as it was manifested at the cross. So Paul says that faith "worketh by love" Galatians 5:6. That is, faith is made active by encounter with God's love. Love is the motivating factor in the plan of salvation. God's love arouses and moves faith in us to so appreciate His grace that we willingly and joyfully yield to His purpose for our lives.
This is where good works come into the picture. Paul emphatically informs us that our salvation is "not of works, lest any man should boast." Language could not be clearer. We are not saved in any degree by virtue of works. But that does not conclude Paul's comments about works. In verse 10 he says we are "created in Christ Jesus unto good works." So while we are not saved of, we are definitely save unto good works. What is the difference? It is the chasm of difference that exists between almost every false religion in the world and the singular gospel of Jesus Christ. "Do good and God will give you salvation in exchange." The gospel of Christ says to sinners, "God has given you salvation as a free gift in His Son; receive the glad tidings by faith and God will do good in and through you."
I can hear someone responding: "If what you're saying is true, then good works do not precede and are of no value to secure salvation."
I realize that this is a seriously humbling idea, but yes, that is exactly what the Bible is saying. Now go ahead and ask the next logical question.
OK, I will. If we are not saved by our works, why are they even necessary?
I am so glad you asked that question. Jesus gives the answer. Listen to Him: "let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" Matthew5:16. Jesus does not say, Do good works so you will be saved. He says, Do good works so others will encounter the goodness of God in you and glorify Him.
Isaiah foretold the coming of Christ "to preach good tidings." He said that one effect of the gospel message would be righteousness in the lives of those who believe. Then he pointed out that the righteousness of Christ's followers would have a special purpose. He called them "trees of righteousness, that He might be glorified. Isaiah 61:3.
(I hate to cut it off here, it is getting so good, but I promised that I wouldn't make them long, so to keep my word, some more tomorrow. God bless the reading of this Bible Study. It is so important that we understand this important point in the Gospel. Grandma Joan)