Have you ever felt the tension between grace and work in scripture? I have. I do.
But that’s just the side of me that wants to put things in categories talking. That’s the ancient Greek in me that want to get out.
The reality is different. Or, at least, I hope it’s different. The reality is this:
You don’t get to have one without the other. Grace, works; justification, sanctification; salvation, service. However you want to say it.
It’s one coin with two sides. You have both, or you have neither. You don’t get to work your way into the Kingdom. But you don’t get to walk into the Kingdom saying you’re washed clean with a bunch of debauchery strapped to your body.
This is why Christianity preaches not only the death of Jesus for you, but also the death of you for Jesus. This is why we preach not only Christ taking up the cross, but also us taking up the cross. We preach not only Jesus’ resurrection and his glorified body, but our resurrection and our New Man as well.
We focus on the “once” of baptism, and the “always” of new life.
You don’t get to have one without the other.
Which is a good thing, really.