Requirements? Wait a minute, Pastor Win, I have heard you preach over and over that we are saved by grace through faith. In fact, not just that, isn’t that what Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8? Indeed, that is both what I have regularly preached (and written) over the years, and more importantly, that is the consistent testimony of Scripture. So, back to the question, what are we talking about by requirements?
The answer is simple. We are indeed saved by grace through faith — the work of salvation has entirely been done for us by Jesus himself. Yet, God does expect that his people live in a way that is distinct and different than does the rest of the world. In Old Testament Israel, this was often expressed in the form of the food ways, rules on clothing, and the participation in various festivals.
As Christians, we recognize that Christ fulfilled the law for us, but we also wish to live in a way that is pleasing to our God and Savior. Thus, we again, follow various ways prescribed for us in the scriptures. This time, though, it is focused not so much on food or clothing, but on spiritual elements — we are to forgive as we have been forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15), we are to do unto others as we would have them do to us (Matthew 7:12), and we are to pursue the fruit of the Spirit in our lives while rejecting the immoral ways of the world (Galatians 5:16-26).
God expects us to be holy as he is holy (to strive in that direction, that is — 1 Peter 1:16) and to strive for righteousness (1 John 3:9-10). Indeed, we are to be all the more diligent to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). Will there be people who go to heaven who make an ongoing shipwreck of their lives — indeed, that’s the nature of grace — but are we given an excuse to set the bar low? Never, how can we who died to sin still live in it (Romans 6:2)? We can have no assurance of faith if we do not live that faith out in good and righteous works (as God defines good works, not as society defines them) — indeed, faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Thus, when our Lord is asked, “What is the greatest commandment?”, he affirms that indeed God requires us to live not as we wish, but as He wishes.