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By what are ye saved? Grace, Faith, Works? November 5, 2010

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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It would appear that many in the church today do not seem to fully understand the Gospel of Salvation. In my Part 2 on The Gospel of Salvation I made reference to the fact that we are justified by faith but that faith must be accompanied by works – which in essence means we are justified by faith as well as works. Now some people might not have understood that and may even label me as an heretic but this is the reason why I want to explain these things further in this post.

We are told in scripture that we are saved by Grace through faith and not of works lest any man should boast.

 

Eph 2

8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

 

Was Paul trying to say here that we are not to do works because works do not save us? The answer to that is no because in verse 10 he clearly stated that we are created in Jesus unto GOOD WORKS which God had already ordained that we should walk in them.

Let me therefore attempt to paint a picture of what Paul was trying to say: Grace is like a doorway that Christ opened or prepared for the whole world (John 3:16, 14:6). That doorway was set in heavenly places and behind it one may find Life. There is a very long, narrow and winding stairway leading up towards it (Matt 7:14). However, for anyone to even set foot on the first step of that stairway they must have faith. Now faith is unseen! It embodies the hope in Christ that we may find life at the end of the stairway. Faith is necessary in order to believe in the provision of Grace (Acts 16:31). If we therefore believe then the Lord will takes on that journey of faith along that stairway till we reach our destination. Our faith is therefore manifested in our willingness to act by taking the first step on that stairway and then the next, and the next after – although the journey is long we are propelled by the hope in us which is our saving faith.

In this little picture therefore we see that we are not saved by Grace alone or that we are saved by faith alone. However we are saved by Grace through faith as Paul said. We cannot circumvent Grace in order to perform what we perceive as righteous works in thinking that these will justify us before God. In other words, the picture shows we cannot avoid the path set forth before us with its preconditions in order to find another way to obtain salvation. This is what Paul meant when he said “Not of works”. But Paul most certainly was not saying we were not required to do works because in verse 10 of Eph 2 that view is contradicted. The good works then can be thought of as the action of walking up the steps. In this way the act of walking up the steps is an outward manifestation of our faith. Let’s conflate this with what the Apostle James was saying.

James 2

18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness:

In putting these verses in context to the picture, what James is saying is that you cannot claim to have faith and not show the outward manifestation of physically taking up your staff and walking up the steps along the stairway. In other words you cannot sit at the foot of the stairway and claim to have faith that you will reap the fruits lying in wait at the end of the stairway and not demonstrating your faith by getting up and walking the path. To claim therefore to have such faith and to do nothing is dead faith! If your faith is therefore dead you can never enjoy the fruits at the end of the stairway because you have not the means to get there.

What both Paul and James have said therefore are complimentary to understanding our gospel of salvation. Paul says we are justified by faith but James expands on that by saying we are justified by faith with the outward manifestation in works. Are we therefore required to do works? To answer this question, Jesus says that if we loved Him then we will obey His commands (John 14:15). Obeying Christ commands are an embodiment of works – the same good works that Paul referred to in Eph 2:10 and which demonstrates our love for Christ. These are also the same works that James is saying we ought to perform to demonstrate our faith which is kept alive in Christ. The great commission also demonstrates that we are to observe all things (good works) that Christ commanded (Matt 28:20).

Faith is therefore not an antithesis to works which is what some people have tried to make it but rather faith and works are tied together in obtaining salvation by Grace. Can we therefore continue to neglect to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison and claim to be justified by faith? Did Christ not warn that if we do not do these things we would not inherit Life?

Matt 25

41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Faith without works is dead and leads to death!

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Comments»

1. Bible Study - November 5, 2010

We most definitely must have works of the spirit manifest in our life. However, I don’t believe the works he is speaking of here is works of righteousness in the flesh. For example, If i remain in bondage to the law trying to live holy in the flesh for salvation, either to earn or keep it, my works don’t show faith. For the bible tells us the law is not of faith. However, if I don’t seek to please God by my own works of righteousness by, for example, keeping the works of the law, I show faith in my works. Say I listen to rock ‘n’ roll music and drink a few bud lights and tell someone I am saved. I show my faith. However, if I refrain from drinking and listening to rock ‘n’ roll’ music because i believe it is necessary if I am going to be saved or please God, I don’t show faith that Jesus is able to save me all by himself. I am actually showing unbelief in the work of Jesus by trying to help him save me.

2. Bible Study - November 5, 2010

If I steal I don’t show faith. Works must be keeping the commandments of God. Therefore, If i believe in Jesus, I will keep his commandments, and my works will manifest my faith. The bible tells us if we climb up any other way than through faith in Jesus, we are theives who steal. Therefore, if I seek salvation by living holy in the flesh, I am like those in the days of the tower of babel seeking to get to heaven by my own works, trying to climb into heaven by my own works of righteousness. This would make me a theif and show my unbelief. I would in essence be trying to climb up another way (by my own works of righteousness) which makes me a theif according to John 10. Those who are theives are not showing their faith because they are not keeping the spiritual commandment of God. If we keep God’s commandments which are spiritual, we show our faith. For faith without works is dead. However, if I try to live holy enough to be accepted of God, I show that I don’t believe that faith in Jesus can save me. Therefore by my works (of righteousness in the flesh) I show unbelief because I would be believing Jesus can’t save me all by himself, I have to help him which is ridiculous in my opinion.

3. Bible Study - November 5, 2010

As for the last verse, Jesus says depart from me ye “cursed”. Who are the “cursed”? Are they not those who are of the works of the law, those seeking to please God by their own works of righteousness in the flesh. Will they not say, I have done many “wonderful works” in your name, but Jesus will say depart for they are theives seeking to climb up another way (John 10), seeking to climb up by their own cursed works, as Cains’ works were “cursed” and he was rejected, they follow the way of Balaam who sought to “curse” Israel. Cain was also a murderer, for the letter killeth. Those who teach the letter of the law are bringing those who follow their false teaching for salvation under the curse of the law, they are teaching the letter that kills, as CAin was a murderer, a picture of those who trust in their own “cursed” works.

4. Henry - November 6, 2010

Bible Study,
I think you have missed my point completely. I have stated plainly that we are justified by faith and that it is by Grace we are saved through faith. This is what the Bible teaches and what I believe. However the Bible also says that if you claim to have faith you much demonstrate this by works. The example James gave was in giving the things needful for the body to those who come into our midst. He says that if you say you have faith but not works your faith is dead. I have made clear therefore that you are not justified by good works but by faith (a faith that must be alive demonstrable by works).

5. Bible Study - November 9, 2010

Yes,the Holy Spirit is clothing as this verse tells us that the body without the spirit is dead. Therefore, we must give them the Holy Spirit (bible truth, for Jesus said the bible is words of spirit). When we give them the word and they are “needful” as Jesus said there is only one thing “needful” faith in him that produces the spirit of God, the clothing we need so that we are not to be found naked. There are few people in the world that understand the bible spiritually with the mind of Christ. I realize that as long as I remain humble, I can learn, but when I think I know it all in pride, I am wrong. I realize the bible says when a man thinks he knows something he knows nothing as he ought. As Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, by the law is “knowledge” of sin. If we think we know right and wrong, we don’t know anyting. However, the bible testifies of Jesus for he is the word of God. I try to “know” nothing but Jesus Christ, which the bible teaches, not a bunch of works in the flesh for salvation. I agree with the fact that we are saved by grace through faith, and not works. FAith alone in Jesus is sufficient as long as it produces a work that demonstrates one is trusting in jesus alone for salvation. When one seeks to live holy by the works of the flesh, or by the law of Moses, for salvation they know nothing about Jesus as they ought.

6. p160 - November 11, 2010

WHAT YOU MUST DO TO BE SAVED

Best of all, the promise of eternal life is a gift, freely offered to us by God (CCC 1727).

The Catholic Church teaches what the apostles taught and what the Bible teaches: We are saved by grace alone, but not by faith alone (which is what “Bible Christians” teach; see James. 2:24).

When we come to God and are justified (that is, enter a right relationship with God), nothing preceding justification, whether faith or good works, earns grace.

But then God plants his love in our hearts, and we should live out our faith by doing acts of love (Galatians 6:2).

Even though only God’s grace enables us to love others, these acts of love please him, and he promises to reward them with eternal life (Romans 2:6–7, Galatians 6:6–10).

Thus good works are meritorious. When we first come to God in faith, we have nothing in our hands to offer him.

Then he gives us grace to obey his commandments in love, and he rewards us with salvation when we offer these acts of love back to him (Romans 2:6–11, Galatians 6:6–10, Matthew 25:34–40).

15 Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.

16 Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5: 15-16)

Jesus said it is not enough to have faith in him; we also must obey his commandments. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ but do not do the things I command?” (Luke 6:46, Matthew 7:21–23, 19:16–21).

We do not “earn” our salvation through good works (Ephesians 2:8–9, Romans 9:16), but our faith in Christ puts us in a special grace-filled relationship with God so that our obedience and love, combined with our faith, will be rewarded with eternal life (Romans 2:7, Galatians 6:8–9).

Paul said, “God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work” (Philippians 2:13).

John explained that “the way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3–4, 3:19–24, 5:3–4).

Since no gift can be forced on the recipient—gifts always can be rejected—even after we become justified, we can throw away the gift of salvation.

We throw it away through grave (mortal) sin (John 15:5–6, Romans 11:22–23, 1 Corinthians 15:1–2; CCC 1854–1863). Paul tells us, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Read his letters and see how often Paul warned Christians against sin! He would not have felt compelled to do so if their sins could not exclude them from heaven (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, Galatians 5:19–21).

Paul reminded the Christians in Rome that God “will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life for those who seek glory, honour, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness” (Romans 2:6–8).

Sins are nothing but evil works (CCC 1849–1850). We can avoid sins by habitually performing good works.

Every saint has known that the best way to keep free from sins is to embrace regular prayer, the sacraments (the Eucharist first of all), and charitable acts.

http://michael-boystown.blogspot.com/

7. Henry - November 11, 2010

P160,
Thanks for stopping by.

I do not agree with you that we are saved by grace alone as this is not what scripture teaches. Rather what scripture teaches is that we are “saved by Grace through faith”. We cannot give ourselves faith though but it is the Lord who gives us faith in the first place.

I also do not share your view on the Eucharist – for the Catholic, the Eucharist means transubstantiation whereby it is believed that the bread and wine are miraculously transformed into the literal body and blood of Christ. This I cannot agree with as my interpretation of the Bible would suggest that these sacraments are merely symbols of the sacrifice Christ made for us and that by performing this “ritual” we declare His death till He comes.

Henry


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