Understanding the Bible 34: Saved by Works, Faith, or Adoption?

“Saved by works or saved by faith?”:  It is one of the oldest debates in Christianity (albeit not the most helpful).  By now, I hope it is becoming clearer that the idea of “being saved” refers to far more than simply one’s fate after death and relies neither on obedience to a divine law nor to assent to a particular set of doctrine.  

To be saved is to brought – in the present – into the community of the age to come (the Kingdom of God), a transfer of citizenship that occurs ultimately by adoption.  That is to say, by grace we are joined to Jesus, and in sharing his identity, we become co-heirs with him of the Kingdom, adopted children of the Father, and brother and sister to one another.  It is for this reason that the New Testament (Paul in particular) uses the language of family so freely.  

For Paul, the church is not a collection of the theologically like-minded or an voluntary society of Jesus-followers it is nothing less than God’s own family – one that is connected by the deepest possible bond (the Holy Spirit) and called to live in communion with God and each other as we carry out the family business (bearing witness to love’s triumph over sin).

In this episode we examine this familial bond – how it was established, what it means for our most basic identity and the call it places on us in our relationships with others.



This is a sermon that was originally presented at Canvas (a Presbyterian church in Irvine, CA), May 11th, 2014. To learn more about Canvas, click here!


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