Paul understood the very same relation between works of righteousness in the believer's life and the glory of God: "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God" Philippians 1:11. Notice that Paul viewed the righteousness brought forth in the Christian's life as fruits. Fruits of what? Of salvation no doubt. In other words, righteousness does not secure salvation, but salvation does produce righteousness Therefore, Paul says the fruits of righteousness are "by Jesus Christ." That is to say, Jesus is the source of the righteousness that will be seen in the Christian life. It is natural, then, in the logical flow of Paul's thoughts for him to connect the righteous living of the believer with the glory of God. Since it is "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us" Titus 3:5, all the righteous deeds in our lives are the fruits of His grace and thus the mirror reflection of His glory. So Paul could say without the slightest exaggeration, "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen" Romans 11:36.
A sinner saved and made righteous by the free grace of God brings glory to the one who has done the saving. It is God's purpose to make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy" Romans 9:23. We are those vessels. As objects of extravagant grace, we have nothing of which to boast other than the cross of Jesus Christ. It is to protect us from self-glory that Paul warns us not to attribute any degree of merit to our good works for if we were "justified by works," we would have "something of which to boast"
Now return with me to the basic structure of Paul's salvation theology in Ephesians 2:8-10.
* We are saved
* by grace
* through faith
*not of but unto good works.
It is vital that we understand the order of the experience. Salvation comes by grace through faith alone. Good works are the practical outworking of that reality. The moment we reverse the inspired order by placing deeds of righteousness before salvation, at least three spiritual tragedies result.
1. The motives of the heart are corrupted, because self becomes the center of our focus rather than Christ.
2. True obedience becomes impossible, because true obedience is the outworking of a heart filled with Christ centered love, and is not the purchase price of salvation.
3. Joy in obedience becomes impossible, because we only find joy in obedience that is motivated by love.
The true gospel is designed to lay the glory of man in the dust so God can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Sure, we can modify our outward behavior so as to give an appearance of righteousness. But only Christ can change us at the heart level.
How does He do it?
By convincing us that there is nothing good we have ever done or can do to secure His salvation. Then, as we lose all confidence in ourselves and almost sink into hopelessness, He graciously informs us that we need not despair, for He has saved us by virtue of His love.
(More tomorrow. Isn't this good, it takes all the work out of saving ourselves and puts it on Christ who saves us by His grace and love. He makes us into what He wants us to be. What a loving God we serve!!!!!!! Grandma Joan)