Our family was reading recently about when God sent fiery serpents amongst the Israelites as a punishment because of their wickedness.
The part that I found interesting was that God told Moses to create a brass serpent and fasten it to the top of a pole. Then, when someone was bitten by one of the serpents, all they had to do was look at the brass serpent and they were healed.
This story is of course very familiar to me, as I have heard it retold since I was a child. However, when we read it through this time, I saw it from a different perspective.
I realized that this was an excellent analogy to help me better understand the age old arguments about faith versus works for salvation.
In the brass serpent story, God prepared the way to be saved, but there was still a task to be performed in order to RECEIVE that salvation.
Just as many symbols that were given to the Israelites, the brass serpent was in similitude of Jesus Christ.
We have all been bitten by the fiery serpents we call sin. Our Heavenly Father has prepared a way for us to be healed from those deadly bites. He raised up His Son, even Jesus Christ. He has prepared a way for us to be saved. And as free as it is for the taking, He still requires us to do something to RECEIVE that salvation. First, we need to have faith in Jesus Christ that He can actually save us. Second, we need to look unto him. Jesus Christ is our perfect example. They way He lived His life is the perfect example to us for how we should be living our lives.
Thus, faith leads to good works. Good works are fruit of faith. That is why James told us that faith with out works is dead. Because if you truly have faith in Jesus Christ then your actions will mirror His actions.
We certainly cannot save ourselves without Jesus, yet He also cannot save us without our acknowledging and accepting that salvation and performing the tasks that He requires of us (His commandments). He has made salvation freely available for us, but we still need to RECEIVE it. We need to have faith in Jesus Christ that He can save us, then look unto Him as an exemplar of how we should live our lives, and live accordingly.