To a large degree our view of the gospel has been shaped by our response to the cheap grace of once-saved always-saved extreme of some evangelical churches. They have taught that the grace of God makes obedience or good works irrelevant for the Christian. Once you believe in Jesus, you are saved and there is nothing you can do to forfeit eternal life, they might say.
In response to this erroneous view we have argued, in tone if not in words, 'No, we are saved by grace through faith and good works." Salvation is like a partnership--God does some of the saving and we do some of the saving, we have implied. Our sincerity is shown by our obedience, and if we do well enough, then God will give us eternal life.
With this kind of emphasis it is natural for us to look at ourselves to determine our standing with God. And because we look to ourselves, we are never really sure of salvation and we often feel we are not good enough to be saved.
Because these two positions have been in such prominent opposition to one another, many of us have assumed that these are the only two theological options. But there is a third view we should consider. The Biblical one! Let's compare all three:
Some say we are saved by grace through faith apart from good works, which makes obedience irrelevant.
Some say we are saved by grace through faith and good works which makes obedience meritorious.
But the Bible teaches that we are saved by grace through faith unto good works, which makes obedience inevitable.
Notice how carefully and beautifully Paul builds the structure of his theological position on salvation:
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10.
Grace is the primary factor by which we are saved. Grace, of course, pertains wholly to God. He alone is its origin. For grace is, in essence, the merciful attitude with which God relates to us in our sin.
(We will build on this tomorrow, but it is making things so clear from the Bible, I can't see how I missed this for so many years. Be blessed if you are young, this will make your life so beautiful and those of us who are older, it is still a blessing and a beautiful thing and will make life so much easier. Grandma Joan)