Are We Saved By Works?

Saved by grace through faith“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).  From this passage we see that we are saved by God’s grace through our faith, and that we did not save ourselves, but rather our salvation is a gift from God (Rom. 6:23).

However, the Bible also has more to say about this question, and we must not ignore what its entirety says (Ps. 119:160).  Notice that Paul said that we are saved not only “by grace,” but also “through faith.”  What is faith?

The Bible has a lot to say about faith.  It is necessary for salvation (Mark 16:16), it is necessary to please God (Heb. 11:6), and it is defined both as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence for things not seen” (Heb. 11:1) and believing that “(God) is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6).

Faith without works is deadDoes faith have anything to do with works?  The Bible asks, “What does it profit…if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can faith save him?…Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:14, 17).  So we see that in order to have a living faith, a faith that pleases God, we must have works.  Otherwise, our faith is dead.

So what does the Ephesians passage mean when it says that we are saved by grace through faith and not of works?  If you go back to that passage and skip down to verse 10, you’ll see that we were created for good works, works of obedience (cf. Eccl. 12:13).  When we do “works,” i.e., obey God, we are only doing what we were supposed to be doing in the first place (Luke 17:5-10).

However, we all sin (Rom. 3:23; 1 John 1:8, 10).  When we sin, our just God requires a penalty for that sin (Rom. 2:8-9).  It is through his love and grace that Christ paid that debt on the cross (John 3:16).  We could not pay it because of our sin that requires the debt to be paid in the first place (Rom. 3:23).  Therefore, no works that we do could save us because our sin cancels out those works.  That’s where God’s grace comes in.

Jesus saves those who obey himNevertheless, God still requires us to obey him if we want salvation (Heb. 5:9), even though he has offered us his grace (Rom. 6:1).  If we truly believe that he “is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6), then our faith will prompt us to obey him (James 2:14-26).  Thus, we are saved through faith (Eph. 2:8).

Think about it.  The last time you gave into a temptation to do something that you know the Bible says is a sin, did you truly believe God’s Word at that moment in time when you gave in and committed the sin anyway?  If you had, then you would not have committed the sin.  Your faith was weak.

Grace does not give us license to sinGod’s grace saves us, but that grace teaches us to live righteously (Tit. 2:11-12).  We will do so if we have faith.  If we don’t have faith, we will live unrighteously and thus will not be saved by His grace in the end (Rev. 21:8).  Will grace save us if we don’t follow grace’s teachings?  God very explicitly says, “No.”  (Rom. 6:1-2)

We must not continue unrepentantly in sinAre you allowing the grace of God to bring salvation to your soul?  Obey God’s Word and become a Christian through penitent, confessed faith in the Son of God and his kingdom (Matt. 10:32-33; Acts 8:12; Rom. 10:9-10; 2 Cor. 7:9-11; 1 Cor. 6:9-11) and baptism into his body for salvation and the forgiveness of sins (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Cor. 12:13; 1 Pet. 3:21).  Remain faithfully obedient by walking in the light of fellowship with God by continually confessing and repenting of your sins (Matt. 7:21-27; Rev. 2:10; 1 John 1:7-9; Heb. 10:26-31; Luke 13:3, 5).Baptize

Don’t receive the grace of God in vain.

My Thoughts On John 8:31-32

The truth shall set you freeVerse 32 is one of the most well known verses in the Bible…but how I wish more religiously-minded folks were as aware of the previous verse!  If more people who professed to be Christians took verse 31 to heart and obeyed it willingly and completely, not only would they truly find salvation…but the sinful division of denominationalism and sectarianism would be dealt a fatal blow!  (1 Cor. 1:10-13; Phil. 2:1-2; John 17:20-23)

How DOES one come to know the truth?  How DOES the truth set one free?  Jesus tells us in verse 31-32:  “…If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  Think about this, friends.  How do you know that you are REALLY a disciple of Christ?  Abide in the words of Jesus, obey them completely…and you really will be a Christian in the eyes of God (Matt. 7:21-27; Heb. 5:9; John 14:15, 23-24; 15:10, 14; 1 John 2:3-6; 5:3).  But how does one abide in his word?  That requires that one first know his word through daily study (Ps. 1:1-3; 1 Tim. 4:13, 15-16), which is how you will come to know the truth which will set you free from the slavery of sin (John 17:17; Rom. 6:17-18).

Many disagree with this, thinking that all that is required of them for salvation is to believe in Jesus.  However, notice that Jesus spoke these words to “the Jews who had believed in him” (v. 31a).  Thus, faith by itself is not enough; it must be accompanied by works of obedience to the Word of God (James 2:14-26).

Do you know the truth so it can set you free?

My Thoughts On John 7:24

Judging OthersChapter seven of John records how Jesus went up to the Feast of Booths and the Jews reacted to his teaching.  They were amazed that he knew so much without any formal education, to which Jesus replied that his teaching came from God.  He then pointedly asked them why they sought to kill him, considering that they were all guilty of violating the law of Moses.  They denied it, but Jesus brought out how they inconsistently were angry with him for healing on the Sabbath Day while they themselves obeyed Moses’ law regarding circumcision on that same day.  He then told them, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

It is easy for us to misjudge others simply by what we see while forgetting that oftentimes there is more to the story than what our eyes tell us.  It’s also easy to judge hypocritically by quickly pointing the finger at others while conveniently and inconsistently ignoring the fact that we ourselves are either guilty of the same thing or something close to it (cf. Matt. 7:3-5).

“Right judgment” is always consistent, and it is based on a righteous consideration of all the facts, including those which our eyes might not immediately see.  We in the church, continually aware of our own righteousness, must be very careful not to look down on the failings of others while ignoring our own weaknesses which are just like theirs.  Rather, let us judge each other rightly, and thus help each other get to heaven.