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I've been having good fellowship with brothers and sisters of Christ lately after open air preaching around the city. This question comes up often and is important to establish when thinking about it.
What do you think? Good deeds or saved by Grace; and if by grace, are we able to continue in sin and expect to get to heaven?
Saved by Grace. Even though God is patient, merciful and extends grace daily we shouldn't continue in sin. Yes God gives us free will to chose daily and yes it is difficult when we see those around us doing the opposite of God's word. Many chose to follow trends and fads, many want to do what the crowds are doing, such as the tattoo trend and so on. The bible is our road map and the Holy Spirit is our strength and our keep. With grace comes freedom and unfortunately with that freedom we often make poor choices
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. (Tit 2:11-12)
I cringe at the term "good deeds", simply because so many people try to justify what they do as such and that will be there "ticket" to Heaven, when the Bible doesn't describe that specifc action.
It's definitely by his Grace that saves us, but like Jhincey said we have a choice to make that decision as to whether we sin or not, one thing I learnt from my pastor is that once you take that title Christian, you become a person who now sins LESS, but not completely sinless. Sometimes you'll have a slip up here and there. But that doesn't give you the freedom as a Jesus follower to go crazy. Lol.
This is an important topic Luis because misunderstanding it affects people so much. It is by God's grace we are saved ofcourse not through anything we have done or deserve.We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We needed a perfect Saviour to die in our place who then rose again and conquered death. The Bible says salvation is a free gift of God, though we have to believe in Jesus Christ and accept Him as Lord and Saviour. Romans 3:23 states all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Verse 24 says we are justified by God's grace through Jesus. That is grace, unmerited favour. Grace further empowers us to do the works that God has purposed for us from before we were born (Psalm 139: 14-18 and Jeremiah 1:4-5). Ephesians 2:10 says we are His workmanship created to do good works which God has ordained for us. In ourselves we cannot do these good works, only by abiding in Christ (read John 15:1-17). God wants us to bear fruit and the previous Scripture says we will be pruned in order to bear more fruit! We need God's enablement along with His Holy Spirit so that we are not carrying out dead works (James 2:17; Heb 9:14), but offering sacrifices pleasing to God, doing the good works as the above scripture in Ephesians says is ordained by God. We need to ask God what He wants to do and partner with Him, not start something and ask God to bless it. We were created to do His works. These works don't add to our salvation, rather, we do them because we are already saved and grace empowers us to carry them out and fulfill these works and we are doing what we were created to fulfill. Everyone is like a piece of a puzzle in in God's Kingdom once they become saved. Remember we are called to walk in holiness and righteousness, which both are in Christ (God's grace and mercy). It is through God's grace that we are able to walk in holiness before God, it empowers us (grace) to live holy lives. If someone continues in habitual sin which they know is sin and are unrepentant how can they claim they are under grace? Grace empowers you to overcome sin because of Jesus!! I believe it is wise to get the full counsel of Scripture and not choose the portions we like or are comfortable with. Jesus Himself rebuked the religious men of His time for neglecting to follow the whole law and being hypocrites(for example on the issue of tithing, honouring parents, etc. Read the gospels especially Mathew). Grace and truth must go together though. Jesus went about doing good works as the Bible states (example Matt 20:28 He Himself says He came to serve) and we are to follow His example as our Good Shepherd. We just need to understand the role that grace, truth and other characteristics of God apply in context. Also note, there are people who are/were saved and at the the judgement seat of Christ, Jesus says to them, depart from Me I never knew you. They answer, but we prophesied in your name and so on. We know they are/were born again because they manifested the gifts which are activated after conversion to Christ. (Matt 7:19-27). These people were/are saved but because of sin Jesus rejects them. Jesus also says the road to heaven is narrow, (Matt 7:13-23), so we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus but if we continue in sin, we musn't expect to get to heaven. Yes, God loves the sinner but He hates sin. At the great white throne Judgement, God's wrath will be poured out on unbelievers.(Rev 20:11-15). God still loves them but He is just and holy and righteous too, that's why it is said that He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
We will not be perfect here however, but one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to mold us into the image of Christ and as we walk in the Spirit, we become more like Jesus. This is what is also called the Sanctification process. It is not easy yes, but God's grace helps us to grow and mature in Christ. We can overcome habitual sin here and we must fight to do so. We cannot expect to continue sinning and go to heaven. Grace is not a ticket to sin but an enablement not to sin.