We don’t begin with obedience. We begin with grace.
When we begin with obedience, we end up with the religion of the Pharisees. We end up with legalism, and that’s very different from salvation.
Salvation comes to us from God’s grace. If we don’t have God’s grace, reaching out to us, through Christ, we don’t have salvation. Whatever we have, it’s not salvation.
We can speak, as much as we like, about the importance of faith and obedience, but we won’t be speaking of salvation.
We may speak a great deal about our faith and our obedience, but are we really speaking about the God of grace, the God who brings his salvation to us, through Christ, our Saviour?
I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t be speaking about faith and obedience. What am I saying? I am saying that our faith and our obedience have their place, but we must take care that we don’t end up with a religion that’s all about our own human effort to keep on believing and to keep on obeying.
When our faith fails us and our obedfience lets us down, where does that leave us?
It leaves us in the place we’ve been in all along: we’re sinners, saved by grace.
We’re sinners: No amount of talking about our faith and our obedience can change that.
We’re saved by grace: Where our faith and obedience cannot take us, the grace of God takes us
Sinners don’t need to be told to keep on believing and to keep on obeying. Sinners need to be forgiven.
What is forgiveness? Is it something that we earn? No! It’s God’s gift.
The Good News is never about our faith and our obedience. Keep on believing, keep on obeying: this will, always, be beyond us. Keep on believing, keep on obeying: what are we to say about this? It will, always, leave us in the place that it found us: sinners who need to be saved by the grace of God.
Grace, faith and obedience: we must speak of all three. Can we do any more than this: pray that our words will be a living echo of the words of Ephesians 2:8-10, “By grace, you have been saved through faith… for good works”?