From the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
What does it mean to earn Christ's favor?  Is it a legitimate concern or is it simply works salvation by another name?  This week we consider a new year's commitment to be worthy of Christ's favor but before we continue, we need to understand what that means.
In the first place, the Bible is very clear concerning the source of salvation.  No one has ever earned salvation and no one ever will.  In Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus he says, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10).  So there you have it; salvation is  the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.  At the same time this passage tells us that we have been created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Hence, we are saved by grace and embrace salvation through a gift of faith but salvation is comprehensive and carries with it the expectation of behavior in keeping with new birth.
When Jesus washed his disciples feet and explained the concept of loving service to them, he concluded by saying, now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them (John 13:17).  He wasn't telling his apostles they could save themselves by following his example; he was telling them there are benefits to obedience.
The Greek word translated as blessed in the passage above is makarios and means, "blessed, happy, fortunate, well-off."  Clearly this describes a condition of favor in the eyes of Jesus the Christ.  Therefore, to be worthy of Christ's favor is to be obedient to him.  Disobedience brings chastisement and it can be argued that the Lord is showing favor to us by doing what he must to bring us back into line.  For the sake of our discussion, however, we will limit our definition of Jesus' favor to the blessings he promises us for obedience.
Thus we are not earning our salvation when we seek the Lord's favor but confirming it.  To labor at becoming Christlike (as we discussed in last week's article) is to embrace the grace of God and be willing to do whatever we must to please him.
In addition, I suggest we earn the blessed favor of Jesus by representing him before the world with a willing heart.  Paul speaks of this when he says that he has a duty placed upon him to preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16-18).  He can discharge that duty grudgingly or he can do so with a joyful heart but he claims he will benefit most when he does his duty voluntarily.  As will we.
We may also expect the favor of Jesus when we accurately represent him to the world.  In other words, we need to portray joyful submission to him just as he happily submitted to his heavenly Father.  Indeed Jesus died on the cross for our sins, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:4).  As people who live obedient lives according to the Spirit, our life should be characterized by joy (Galatians 5:22).
Resolving to make Jesus the center of our reality, seeking true Christlikeness and to be worthy of Jesus Christ's favor.  I encourage you to pursue these three goals throughout the upcoming year.

Cottonwood, Idaho 83522


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503 King St.
P.O. Box 157
Cottonwood, ID 83522-0157
Fax 208-962-7131
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