When Working Doesn’t Work

To the one who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness. (Romans 4:5 NASB)

Seems like a strange statement, doesn’t it? You and I were raised in a culture that told us that if you want anything in this life, you have to go out and earn it. Well, there is a work that doesn’t work; knowing that truth brings with it a deep peace that can be found in no other way.

The “work” I am speaking about is the work of salvation. There are millions in the church of Jesus Christ today who are trying to work themselves into God’s good favor. They believe God is keeping score in their lives, and their ultimate goal is to have more points under the heading of “Good deeds” than there are under the “Bad deeds” heading. These men and women have sat under the preaching of a false gospel that essentially says that salvation comes to those who earn it by the spiritual sweat of their own brow. Oh, they acknowledge that Jesus died on the cross for their sins, but their understanding is that Christ made the down payment on their salvation, but they must dutifully keep up with the installment payments.

Listen, we certainly do need to work for what we get in this life. You work a job and you get paid. You exercise and you get fit. You invest in a relationship and it grows. But when it comes to eternal life, there is no amount of work that will gain anything. When Jesus hung on the cross and cried out, “It is finished,” He meant what He said; the work of salvation was completed at Calvary and our sin debt is paid in full.

It is true that we are saved by works, but not by our works. It was the cross work of Christ—His sinless life, His sacrificial death, and His supernatural resurrection—that earned us the right to walk the pathway to Paradise. Our verse for today tells us that God the Father credits (or imputes) the righteousness of God the Son to all who believe the Gospel. This is not a righteousness that we possess within ourselves; rather it is a righteousness that is outside of us and must be credited to us from above. On the cross our sin was imputed to Jesus and His righteousness was imputed to all those who will but trust in His atoning death on their behalf.

Here is the crucial question: In what are you trusting? Do you believe you were saved by grace but must remain in that grace by your good works? Remember, the Scriptures tell us that He who began this good work in us will complete it Himself (Philippians 1:6). What God began He will finish. So instead of trying to work yourself into God’s favor, simply rest in your redemption, and you will experience the peace that passes all understanding, now and forevermore.

Now go to work—not for your gain, but for the glory of His matchless name and the growth of His kingdom!This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!


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