Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wednesday Guest Blogger- Tracy Chiara from Abundant Living

Today's Guest Blogger is Tracy Chiara, who writes at the blog Abundant Living. Tracy's blog is both spiritually uplifting and visually stunning. I'm always challenged by her muses to look deeper into my own understanding of scripture and Christian theology.

Tracy is a wife, mother of 3 and lives in California. She leaves the most thoughtful comments on Tony C Today, and her love for God is evident in her writings, her humility and her love for others.

Enjoy this Best of Abundant Living post...

Fruit instead of works

It's always been difficult for me to hit that balance between grace and works. I know that it is a fact that God gave me the faith, the ability, to trust in Jesus' work on the cross on my behalf.

I know that because Jesus died on the cross in my place, and intercedes for me before God the Father, I am acceptable in God's sight. I did nothing to earn this great salvation that is mine. It was totally a gift to me; all I had to do was accept it. Ignatius of Loyola said it so well: "The direct experience of God is grace indeed, and basically there is no one to whom it is refused."

Yet, if my faith in God is real, there will be resulting actions. Real faith, a real choice to follow after Christ, leads to a different way of life.

That's where the whole debate comes in.

Recently I was commenting on the fact that James even says that faith without corresponding works isn't real. John, my husband, cautioned me that I need to be sure to differentiate between works and fruit. His comments have been ruminating around in the back of my mind for a few days now.

Fruit in my life is as a result of my connection to God. I can not produce fruit. Works are something I have produced on my own.

Jesus clarified it in John 15:3-5 (NKJV):

3You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

I know that I need to be changed from the inside out. Ways that I can alter myself on the outside to look good, are not genuine. It's only as I spend time in God's presence and in His Word, only as I choose to open myself up to Him, only as I submit to what He is telling me to do - only then does real change happen.

What have you been learning about grace and works?

Be sure to catch more of Tracy at Abundant Living.


Anonymous said...

How ironic.
I just finished writing a post about this very topic!

My working theory to clear up the "Faith vs. works Conundrum" is that Christian works are more like exercises rather than legalistic rules.

You can't get into shape without exercising.

Not exercising leads to loss in muscle tone, just as not acting as a Christian leads to a loss in grasping what grace is and why we need it.

David said...

Excellent! Fruit and works will never be the same in my mind.

I see serving God in the same way a child draws a picture for their parent - just because they love them. Those are the true works, the ones that happen because we love.

And thanks, Tony for sharing.

Michelle said...

Thanks, Tony. I really enjoyed this. Being more on the side of reformed theology, I'm learning lots about grace and works... for years! I, of course, believe faith is from God and when I say we do nothing... I mean we do NOTHING... not even accept it. But I'm sure we've all been in those disccussions too many times!!!

I still believe fruit is essential and love how Tracy so gracefully stated the work of the Spirit in this process.

An interesting perspective I heard recently on James...

The scripture states "if someone says he has faith but does not have works...Can faith save him" The emphasis is on the word "says." A man can say he has faith, but true faith from God will results in works.

I agree...I've been enlightened on my view of fruit and works!