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Obedience and Works

Surprised by joy

"Works" is one of the most paradoxical topics in the Bible. The failure to resolve this paradox has contributed to the chasm between Catholics and Protestants but individually it has cost some their obedience and others their joy in serving their God. This study sheet does not even intend to suggest the contents are the final answer but hopefully, for me, it is a beginning.

l. What is the paradox of works?

A paradox is an assertion or sentiment that is seemingly contradictory but yet is true. The Scriptures affirm that salvation is not of works yet on the other hand they affirm that obedience is a factor in salvation. How can this be? Obviously the obedience, the response of man. under consideration is not considered a work.

Not of works- Ephesians 2: 8-10; Titus 3: 5; 2 Timothy 1: 9

Of obedience- Romans 2: 6-11; Hebrews 5: 9; Matthew 7: 21; 2 Thessalonians 1: 8-9: Romans 6: 17-18

2. What are the works under discussion?

They are works of righteousness or works of merit of which man could boast. These works are incompatible with grace. These works do not proceed from faith in God but from faith in ourselves or our religious heritage and they are not motivated by love but by such factors as pride, envy, strife and fear. Ephesians 2: 8-10; Titus 3: 5; Romans 11: 6

3. What is the obedience under discussion?

The obedience is the "obedience of faith" or "the work of faith." It is a response that proceeds from faith in God and Jesus Christ and when in full bloom is motivated by love. Acts 6:7; Romans 1: 5; 16: 26; John 6: 29; 1 Thessalonians 1: 3; 2 Thessalonians 1: 11: Hebrews 11: 8

4. Give an example of works that do not proceed from faith or trust in God.

In the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector, the Pharisee prayed, fasted and gave tithes yet his trust was in God as demonstrated by his repeated reference to himself and the clear statement of the text. Yes, he acknowledged the existence of God. But his faith was in his ability to keep the law. The tax collector, on the other hand, was justified because he did not exalt himself. Luke 18: 9-14 Saul of Tarsus, who would later become the Apostle Paul, was typical of the Pharisees of his day. His confidence was in the flesh, in his Jewish heritage. He considered himself a son of Abraham. He was a meticulous keeper of the law, zealous but he and most of fellow countrymen failed to find God because they sought it by works and not faith. Philippians 3: 4-7; Romans 9: 30-33

5. What is the motivation for works of faith?

Paul said that that which avails in Christ is faith, which works through love. Love is the ultimate motivation for our actions. Some serve God out of fear and others out of a sense of duty and there is a place for these in our beginning relationship with God. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God. However as our relationship develops, love cast out fear and love transcends duty. Our feeling of "we ought to" and "we should" changes into "we want to" and "we love to." Only then can we experience the joy that God wants us to have in the abundant life. Works or obedience not motivated by love is nothing, of no value. Galatians 5: 6; 1 John 4: 17-18; Ecclesiastes 12: 13; 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3; Philippians 1: 15-18

6. Give an example of works of faith?

The entire eleventh chapter Hebrews is an example of works that proceeded from faith in God. By faith Abel offered a sacrifice. By faith Noah prepared an ark and became an heir of the righteousness, which is by faith. By faith Abraham obeyed.

Read the entire chapter. Example after example is given of those who responded by faith. These are examples of the righteous living by faith. Hebrews 10: 37-11: 40; Acts 6: 7; Romans 1: 5; 16:26; 1 Thessalonians 1: 3; 2 Thessalonians 1: 11

7. Should works of faith be considered to be of "ourselves"

No, works which proceed from faith, is God working in us and through us both to will and to do all according to His purpose. Obedience from faith is ultimately a submission to His will, acknowledging that He not only has every right to command but also has our best interest at heart. 2 Timothy 1:9; Philippians 2:11-12; Ephesians 2: 8

8. Why can works not save us?

The only way we can be saved by works is to obey completely and perfectly. We can not be saved on that basis as we are all sinners. Galatians 3: 10; Romans 3: 23

9. How does faith validate and authenticate works?

Works that do not spring from faith in God becomes legalistic exercises to be righteous on the basis of our own efforts. God has declared that our righteousness is as filthy rags. Isaiah 64: 6; Galatians 1: 6-10

10. On the other hand how do works relate faith?

Faith is perfected by works of faith and faith is demonstrated by works. Works make faith alive and useful. James 2: 14-26

12. Is salvation by works of righteousness?

No, salvation is not of works of righteousness. Titus 3:5

13. Will we be judged by our works? How so?

Yes, we will be judged by our works as our works are indicative of faith.

14. Did Jesus learn obedience?

Yes, Jesus became obedient even to death on a cross and we are admonished to have the mind of Christ. Obedience is actually a submission of your will to God. Hebrews 5: 8; Philippians 2: 5-8

15. What does God give to those that obey Him?

God gives the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the gift of salvation to those that obey Him. Acts 5:32, Hebrews 5:9

16. How were the Romans made free from sin?

The Romans were made free from sin by the grace of God when they through faith obeyed that form of doctrine and were baptized into Christ’s death. Romans 6: 1-6: 17-18; Acts 22: 16

17. What must be obeyed?

The Scriptures speak of obeying the truth, the gospel, and the word. Many apparently believe that Christianity is a buffet or a smorgasbord in which we are allowed to pick and choose that which seems good to us. When in fact, God, in His wisdom, only commands that which is necessary, best and essential to enter into a relationship with Him and to remain in that relationship. Romans 2:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 3:14

18. Unto what purpose were we created in Christ?

We were created in Christ unto good works. Ephesians 2:10

19. Is faith a work of God?

Yes, Jesus said believing in Him was a work of God. John 6: 29

20. Are works compatible with grace?

Certainly works of merit are not, otherwise grace is no longer grace. Romans 11:6


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Last Update   09/26/12