Wednesday 11 March 2015


Isn’t this true: We’d rather ask God what He can do for us than what we have to do to please Him?

Here are four instances to illustrate the above premise that we would rather ask what God can do for us than what we have to do to please Him.

Forgiveness without conditions?

In John chapter 8, Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery. Jesus asked her, “Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Who doesn’t want to be forgiven? If we had our way, we would rather receive forgiveness without any conditions attached to it.

However, Jesus sets explicit conditions for His forgiving us. We must repent and turn away from sin. We must not continue living a sinful lifestyle. In this case, the woman had to forsake her immoral lifestyle and return to her husband.

We tend to emphasise God’s love and mercy towards sinners. The need for sinners to bear fruits that befit repentance—personal responsibility—is often not emphasised to the same degree.

God keeps us in His love and favour

We like to harp on the fact that God keeps us in the faith: “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 1:24).

But we tend to downplay personal responsibility though it is clearly stated: “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (Jude 1:20-21).

No one can pluck us out from God’s hands

Haven’t we heard this familiar refrain, “Eternal security is assured for believers because no one can pluck us out from Jesus’ hands,” sung by Once Saved, Always Saved (OSAS) adherents?  

After all, who wouldn't want to believe that we're always safe and secure in Jesus’ hands?

But before we hastily jump to the conclusion that no one can snatch or pluck us out from Jesus’ hand (John 10: 28), we need to ask ourselves the not-so-obvious requirements posed by the preceding verse (John 10:27):
  • Have we sought to hear His voice, just as sheep hearken to the shepherd’s voice?
  • Have much time do we spend getting to know Him?
  • Have we obeyed His commands?
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27-28).

With regards to John 10:27-28, have we been honing our cherry picking skills, reading into the passage what we would like to hear and ignoring the rest?

Saved by faith … and that’s all we need to know

Some compare the Christian life to a walk in the park. They say everything is by faith. You just have to believe in what Jesus has done for you at the cross. Anything more than that smacks of self-effort, pride and legalism.

It is true God saved us not because of our good works but by faith in the finished work of Christ at the cross. However, we cannot insist that henceforth we have no part to play for we are to devote ourselves to good works.

Let’s compare these two verses from Titus chapter 3:

He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.
 (Titus 3:5)

The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
(Titus 3:8)

Hopefully, after having considered the four examples outlined above, we are convinced that, just as a coin has two sides, there are two parts in the practical outworking of the believers' lifeGod's part and our part: 

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).

Do we value accountability and personal responsibility as much as we celebrate God’s mercy, grace and love towards us?

Accountability is not a dirty word—though it seems that it has become a dirty word. Why?
  • Modern-day liberal teachers have made it so.
  • Believers prefer to downplay personal responsibilitychoosing instead to focus on the blessings and privileges that God can offer them.

People say that this emphasis on accountability borders on legalism and “works righteousness”. However, if believers' works fulfil the following conditions, wouldn’t their deeds be absolutely biblical?
  • Works that reflect obedience to God’s commands (John 14:21)
  • Works that arise spontaneously in response to God’s grace (Luke 7:36-50)
  • Works that are aligned with God’s will (John 4:34)
  • Works that draw its strength and inspiration from God (Psalm 84:5, Colossians 1:29)
  • Works that genuinely reflect sacrifice (Mark 12: 41-44)
  • Works that remain steadfast despite discouragement (1 Corinthians 15:58)
So believers must not lean on the excuse that works are unimportant “since we are now under grace.”

The fact is that accountability does not stop the day we accept Jesus by faith.


In our eagerness to perform, have we lost out in that which is most essential?
The church at Ephesus had many things going for them. They were commended in three areas:
They passed with flying colours in three P’s:
1. Performance – excelled in good works.
2. Purity of doctrine – being discerning, they managed to fend off false doctrine.
3. Perseverance – able to endure hardship.
But they failed in one area: First Love. So it’s PASS for three P’s but FAIL for one F.

Many believers focus on the privileges of being a Christian and forget that there are conditions attached to the blessings. In short, blessings come with responsibilities.

Some compare the Christian life to a walk in the park. They say everything is by faith. You just have to believe in what Jesus has done for you at the cross. Anything more than that smacks of self-effort, pride and legalism.

It’s great to experience God’s unmerited favour. But we must not stop there. There are other ways to gain His favour.

Though we are saved by faith, we must not forget the fact we are destined for good works. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works.”



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