What Part do “Works” Play in My Salvation?

Q: What must I do to be “saved”?

 A: There is nothing we do that saves us.  God saves us by grace through faith.  So the only thing we do is believe, trust, have faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:1-10).  This is born out in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), in the story of Zaccheus (Luke 19:1-10), in the Parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and Lost Son (Matthew 25), and the Thief on the Cross (Luke 23:40-43).  We certainly can’t be saved through obedience to the Law (Galatians 3:1-14).  Romans 1:16 says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”


Q: So “salvation” is free? 

A: No.  It cost Jesus the pain and suffering of torture and crucifixion.  He was totally forsaken on the cross by the Father as He took on ALL the sin of the world (past, present, and future) and became that sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).


Q: No, I mean “salvation” is free for US? 

A: Yes, there is nothing that we can DO to earn it.  God did all the work.  We just have to accept that for our lives.


Q: So there’s no cost to following Jesus?

A: I didn’t say that!  Salvation is free.  But the journey of faith is difficult.  We don’t have to DO anything to “stay saved.”  But we should be wanting to follow this incredible Leader who loves us and blesses us.  Check out Luke 9:57-62, 14:25-34 to see the cost.  2 Corinthians 11:23-28 describes some of the costs Paul endured for the church (for us!).  There is a huge cost to follow Jesus.


Q: I’m confused.

A: What’s your question?


Q: I’m supposed to be asking the questions.
A: Then why aren’t you?


Q: OK, I will!  So salvation is free…I can’t earn it through works or obeying the law.  I just have to believe that Jesus is who He says He is and trust Him with my life and seek to follow Him?

A: Yes!


Q: That’s it? 

A: Of course not.  A good question to ask would be “What is the evidence of salvation in a person’s life?”


Q: Yeah, good question.  So what’s the answer?

A: Remember Ephesians 2 from the first question?  Read verse 10 in the context.  And also Eph. 4:11-13.  Remember Galatians 3:1-14?  Now read 5:16-26.  Remember Romans 1:16?  Now read Romans 12.  Remember Jesus’ parables on grace?  Now read Matthew 25, the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats and the Parable of the Talents.  If salvation doesn’t change us at all then there’s a problem!  Look at James 2:14-26.


Q: A-Ha!  James 2:24 contradicts what you’ve been saying!  We are justified by faith AND works it says.

A: No, it doesn’t say that.  It says that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone…that’s different.  Vs. 22 talks about how our faith is made complete (or mature) by what we do.  In other words, faith is not a MENTAL agreement with God and Jesus.  It’s a day by day dependence on Him and His plan for our lives.  We demonstrate our faith through our actions.  So if we have NO actions to back it up we must not have faith.  It does not say that we have to be perfect and do all the right things, just that we are compelled by our faith to do right.  Good deeds are the fruit of a life lived by trusting Jesus Christ.  Jesus didn’t say to the thief on the cross, “Uh…well…you can be in paradise today but you’ve got to do some feeding of the hungry.”  Of course not!  We don’t tell the newly repentant Christian, “Uh…you’re not in YET.  You’ve got to do some good first.”  Never! 



Any other questions or passages that seem to refute this line of reasoning?



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