Eternal Life – by Grace

"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.'" Matthew 25:34

Our Lord’s self-identification with the needy as “the least of these brothers of Mine” (Matthew 25:40), is readily understood and deeply appreciated. Jesus calls for good works in a most appealing way. Some have sought to find support here for their belief that acceptance with God rests not only on faith but also on good works. They claim that Jesus made no mention here about salvation by faith in His redeeming merits, but that He posits it on a person’s own merits – on what he has done in the area of Christian service. 

It is good to remember that the Bible doesn’t say everything that needs to be said in one verse or in one group of verses. In other connections Jesus said often enough: “Your faith has saved you” (Luke 7:50). The Gospel reading for today has to be understood in light of Jesus’ clear words in John 3:16: “Whoever believes in Him [the Son of God] shall … have eternal life.”

While it is true that faith alone saves, it is equally true that the saving faith is never alone. The living faith is always accompanied by works of love – also words and thoughts of love, prayers, and the like. A faith without works is dead, Saint James declares. Jesus points to good works as the evidence of the saving faith.

Eternal life comes by God’s grace, not as a reward for deeds. This is emphasized when Jesus says, “Take your inheritance.” An inheritance is a gift, not wages for services performed. Because salvation is God’s free gift, we have all the more reason to thank and praise Him by doing works of love. Are these works a burden? Not at all.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, lead me to people who need my help, my friendliness, and my smile. Amen.