If we would take the basics of the Christian faith seriously, then we must begin with what Jesus actually said.
Of the Source of a Godly Life

Jesus said: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing," (John 15:5).

By these words Jesus teaches us the source of a Christian's holy life. That source is not in the Christian himself. By faith a believer is united to Christ as a branch is in the vine. A branch cut off from the vine dies. It can bear no fruit, for the life of the vine is not in it. So it is with the Christian life. It is Christ's life out of which a Christian lives. In himself all he does is sin. Except we be born again and planted into Christ by faith, we can bear no fruit. Grace in Christ is the source also of a godly life. This means that none of our works can ever merit or earn anything with God, nor can they be part of our righteousness before Him. All that we have is out of Christ. We are indebted to Him even for the fruit of salvation which we bear and in which we walk. Nor is the idea that Jesus gives us His grace and His Spirit, and now it is up to us to bear fruit. Jesus said, "Without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). Without faith in Christ, which is first as the foundation of our life, we have no good works which are pleasing in God's sight.

Jesus works that godly life in His people by means of His Word and the working of His Spirit. As He is the source of a godly life so His Word is the means to work that life in us. Jesus prays to the Father, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth," (John 17:17). By His Word Jesus cleanses us from the guilt and pollution of our sin in order that we might bear fruit. He also stirs up in us a godly walk of life, sanctifying us—making us holy—by the working of His Word and Spirit, so that we are devoted in mind and heart to the service of God. God in Christ effectually works a sincere, holy or devoted walk of life in the fear of God.

Mere outward conformity to external or man-made rules is not godliness. The love of God wrought in the heart of a Christian by faith is the motivating power out of which proceeds that godly walk of life. It is God's love in Christ which is shown to us and wrought in us by His Word. As Jesus said, "And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them," (John 17:26). Out of that love of God we are given, as the privilege of salvation, to walk in God's ways, willingly and responsibly, and to bear the fruit of a living branch in the vine Jesus Christ. Therefore Jesus says to us, "If ye love me, keep my commandments," (John 14:15). The Christian life of godliness is one of gratitude in love. The love of God given unto us works the obedience of love. Such obedience we offer unto God, not that we might be saved, but because we are saved, not to earn forgiveness by our works, but as forgiven and now free to serve God. Is this why you do your works, in gratitude for salvation, or as something to earn that salvation? Thankful obedience is the fruit of salvation in Christ, the work of grace, and is done out of love. It is the only source of a godly life, for Jesus said, "without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). Are your works wrought from the heart in the love of Christ out of salvation in Him?

By Rev. Thomas Miersma, Missionary Pastor

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