Many Christians still struggle with the relationship between faith and works.
Are we saved by our good works? No.
Are we saved by our faith and good works? No.
Are we saved by faith that works? No.
Then How are we saved? We are saved by faith FOR good works.
This is a huge paradigm shift for many who struggle with the assurance of salvation. We all know that God demands obedience to both the law and gospel, but the two often seem irreconcilable. We never seem to reach that standard of holy perfection and we never feel worthy enough to enter the gates of sinless paradise.
But there is hope–Salvation is a free gift granted to all who trust in the merits of Jesus Christ for eternal life.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, ESV).
What about good works? Why are they important to us as Christians?
After decades of prayer, meditation, study, and mulling over this topic, I came to the conclusion that while God saves us by faith alone in the blood of Christ, He rewards us for our obedience to His eternal law.
Yes, we will be judged by our works.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10, KJV).
When we stand before the judgement seat of Christ there will be two questions under consideration:
1. Did you trust in Christ alone for your eternal salvation or did you place other conditions on salvation other than simple faith?
2. What type of responsibilities and privileges will you be granted in the eternal kingdom?
Didn’t Jesus tell us about laying up our treasures in heaven?
Didn’t Jesus keep telling us that we are to expect great rewards in heaven?
Didn’t Jesus keep reminding us that the first in this life will be last in the kingdom and the last in this life will be first in the kingdom?
Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
~Matthew 19:27-30, ESV
Many Christians assume that we will all have the same rewards in the heavenly kingdom. However, just as the angels have different ranks and responsibilities in the eternal kingdom, the saints will also be granted different rewards in heaven based on their willingness to deny themselves and follow Jesus even unto death.
In the words of Jesus revealed to the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation we learn of rewards granted by Christ according to our works in this lifetime:
“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12, KJV).
Our faith will get us into heaven, but it is our works that determine our rewards in the eternal kingdom. It is not for us to decide what our works are worth in this lifetime, for that is up to the Father, but we can trust that God is a righteous judge who will bless us for our obedience.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10, ESV).