The God Who Saves

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Study 5

Living for God

The aim of this study is to show what the Christian life looks like. It addresses the criticism, “If being saved is all God's work, then it doesn't matter if I keep sinning!” Often religious people respond to the gospel by saying, “Is that all?” or “It can't be that simple! Surely I have to do something!” Without denying the fact that salvation is all God's work, Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God saves people for a purpose: to do the good works he has prepared for them. So what we do as Christians does matter. We have a new life to look forward to, one in which sin is no longer appropriate. There is little point in sinning if Jesus is going to destroy all sin when he returns. God's gift of salvation teaches us and motivates us to live properly as saved people, getting rid of sin and putting on good works. Explaining this clearly can be very helpful, as many religious people mishear the gospel as teaching that it doesn't matter what you do as a Christian.

Another important point to make clearly is that good works are not a way to be saved, but come about as a result of being saved. God's generosity in saving us results in us doing good works, not the other way around!

Read 1 Corinthians 15:13-19.

1. What does it mean for Christians if Jesus has not been raised from the dead?

There are a number of important answers in the passage, but for the purposes of this study, the key is verse 17: “your faith is futile; you are still in your sins”.

Now read 1 Corinthians 15:20-26.

2. a) If Jesus has been raised, what confidence can we have about our own future? Why?

We can be confident that we too will be raised to life (v. 22). It will happen because we belong to him.

b) If Jesus has been raised, then apart from the resurrection of everyone who trusts him, what else can we expect will happen in the future?

Any rivals to Jesus' lordship will be destroyed. Jesus will himself submit to the rule of his heavenly Father, and give all things to him for his glory. Death itself will be destroyed.

Read Titus 2:11-14.

3. What has already appeared or been revealed?

The grace of God.

4. What has this brought?


5. What is yet to appear or be revealed?

“The blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (v. 13).

6. a) While we are waiting for Jesus to return, what should we give up?

We should give up “ungodliness and worldly passions” (v. 12) and “all wickedness” (v. 14), because we've been rescued from these things. It doesn't make sense for Christians to continue in these things.

b) What should we do instead?

We should “live self-controlled, upright and godly lives” (v. 12). We should “wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (v. 13). And we should be ‘do-gooders’—people who are “eager to do what is good” (v. 14).

7. How are we taught or motivated to live godly lives?

It happens not through our own effort—even if we discover that it is hard work—but by looking only to the grace of God. It is the work of Jesus that transforms us and purifies us. In the same way that we began the Christian life, now we continue.

8. Do good deeds or godly living come as a result of God's gift, or in order to earn it?

The text of the study says at this point:

It is important to understand the place our behaviour has in our relationship with God. No matter how well we behave, all people fundamentally do what they want and reject what God wants. We all need help. We all need a saviour! Being saved from sin is a gift, because God saves people when they don't deserve it and without their help. God sent Jesus Christ to give his life as a sacrifice to pay for our sins. All we can do is accept this gift, and trust in Jesus to make us right with God.

However, understanding this gift changes us. It starts to teach us and motivate us to live properly—to stop rejecting what God wants and start living the way he wants us to. Christians don't behave rightly in order to be saved, and to enter heaven. They are already certain of their salvation because it is a gift! But this gift teaches them to stop rejecting God and live for him. Christians start living a new life to please God because they know that they are already saved through God's grace.

10. What does this gift tell you about what you need to give up or start doing?

It might be good to point out that this study undercuts one specific criticism sometimes made of God's free grace and forgiveness, which is that if we accept it, it leaves us without a reason to stop sinning.