Article by: Mark Driscoll
God is holy and in heaven. We are sinful and on the earth.
If there is any hope of us being with God, something has to be done to bridge these gaps.
In various religions, the work is to be done by you with such things as reincarnation to pay off your karmic debt, having your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds, or paying God back in some way.
In Christianity, the work is done by Jesus. He lived without sin and died for your sin saying, “it is finished”.
Confused on the issue of who performs the work of salvation, people in John 6:28-29 ask Jesus, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.””
Jesus was saying that we are not saved by any of our works. Jesus was also saying that we are saved by believing (or trusting by faith) in His works.
If you are trying to pay God back in some way, or think that every time you suffer that God is punishing you and making you pay Him back for wrongdoing in your life, then you are wrongly trusting in your works instead of Jesus’ works. Jesus works in three ways:
- Jesus works for you. He lived without sin, died to pay the price for your sin, and rose to conquer sin and death for you.
- Jesus works in you. Jesus gives you a new nature and the Holy Spirit to change you at the deepest level of your being.
- Jesus works through you. Jesus has His character increasingly show forth through you.
It is common for well-meaning Christians to say that we are saved by faith and not by works. What they mean is that we are saved by faith and not our own works but rather the works of Jesus. That being said, we cannot overlook all the work that Jesus has done for us. From beginning to end, salvation is all the work of Jesus. This is how Paul says the same thing in Ephesians 2:8-10, “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.”