If you were to press most Christians today about whether good works get them into Heaven, they would quickly say, “No, it’s by God’s grace.”
But by the way they live, you would think they believe that good works somehow earn God’s favor.
Their lives seem to say, “I expect God to keep me out of trouble and answer all my prayers if I do my duty as a Christian. I get up every morning and have my devotions. Then I spend time in prayer. Maybe I share the gospel. I’ve done my duty. Now I expect God to bless me.”
In a way, they’re trying to earn God’s favor instead of understanding they have God’s favor.
I am not suggesting that you neglect starting your day with the Word of God and prayer. Nor am I suggesting that you don’t share the gospel. But you shouldn’t do those things to find God’s favor. Rather, do them because you’ve found it already. Let them be the overflow of a life with Jesus.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith’” (Romans 4:1–3 NLT).
Paul was pointing out to religious Jews that God credited Abraham as being righteous, even before circumcision existed. In the same way, being raised in a Christian home doesn’t make us Christians. Water baptism doesn’t save us.
We can cling to these things as though they do. But they’re actually the outward showing of what God has already done, because salvation is a gift.