The age-old question…what came first the chicken or the egg? It is such a great question. For those of us that believe in creation by an all-powerful Creator than of course we answer the chicken. Remember in the beginning He formed all the animals out of the dirt (Genesis 1:24). Much like us who also were formed from dirt; yet we were given the image and the breath of God (Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:7). Amazing! So, here is a question what comes first grace or works? So many times I have heard or read about “tension” in the scripture. By this people mean: one verse says this but another verse seems to say a completely opposite statement. A while ago I posted a picture named, Tension; you can click there for the link to the picture.
I believe when we look at scripture we need to start at the right starting point. When we don’t start at the right starting point then of course we see opposing statements. When we do start at the right starting point then what we have seen as opposing statements actually flow congruent. Many times one scripture is pulled out against so many other scriptures and pointed out as an opposing scripture. What is amazing is it usually is trying to denigrate grace. One such scripture is James 2:17:
“Thus, faith by itself, unaccompanied by actions, is dead.”
Let’s read a little further into James 2:18:
“But someone will say that you have faith and I have actions. Show me this faith of yours without the actions, and I will show you my faith by my actions!”
The reason James is looked at is because it talks about behavior or works. People that try to throw the grace Jesus bought for us to the wind and try to say it is all about behavior. James here was talking to double-minded (Definition: (lit: of two souls, of two selves), double-mind-properly, “two souled”; (figuratively) “double-minded,” i.e. a person “split in half,” vacillating like a “spiritual schizophrenic.”) people. People that said they have spoken with their mouth Jesus is Lord and yet the outflow of their life showed something different. James makes certain points such as: a desire to treat poor people harshly and rich people well; not taking care of widows and orphans; or favoritism. James called this a vulgarity.
If you see tension in scripture, I believe, you are putting the cart before the horse or somewhere within your core beliefs you still have an area of law you are abiding by. Let me explain a little further. When we understand we are saved by grace alone that it was finished by Jesus the Christ on the Cross for the entire world to have the ability to choose the free gifts of grace–freedom from and power over sin; and salvation.
We are then able to start at the right starting point and will understand the works we do are a NATURAL OUTFLOW of our faith in the Christ which has allowed the Holy Spirit to dwell in us.
Works are a sign, the cart after the horse or the egg that comes from the chicken. It isn’t something you perform but how the Holy Spirit who has come to dwell in you performs as you abide in Jesus. If the works are the focal point then we have definitely put the cart before the horse. Our focal point needs to start at the truth of all God did through His Son on the Cross and in the Resurrection. Early believers understood this. It is time for the Church today to understand this as James said:
“Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father who made the heavenly lights; with him there is neither variation nor darkness caused by turning.” James 1:17