Scripture is quite clear on the topic of our salvation. It is by God’s grace alone that we are saved through faith. Why then do some verses place a high significance upon works? We don’t attend to this question without good reason. Works-based heresies exist and must be refuted.
Our salvation is a gift
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Salvation is solely the work of God, not man. A self-sufficient man is boastful and does not lean and rely upon God’s grace. Man cannot meet God’s requirements for reconciliation; Our Savior necessarily had to do this for us.
Enter the topic of works
God’s word clearly tells us to be diligent in making our calling and election sure and that faith without works is dead. In the minds of some, this is confusing. If one is saved by faith alone, why do we see scriptural instructions regarding good works?
Getting a clear view of the necessity and value of works.
2 Peter 1:10 – Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, 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.
For some of us, 2 Peter 1:10 and James 2:17-18 seem to contradict Ephesians 2:8-9. How is it that one cannot simply believe if faith is all we need? Why ‘must’ we demonstrate our faith by works? Conversely, if we are being ‘good’ persons and doing ‘good’ works, why do we need a Savior?
Just as faith without works is dead, so too are works without faith. We cannot work our way to reconciliation with God. Our sin has separated us from God and only the blood of Christ can bridge the gap between us.
The significance of works are their evidential value. We know that a person’s life has truly been transformed when their priorities and life focus are renewed by God.
Our manner of living serves as evidence of saving faith. Are we to assume that a person’s profession of faith is genuine when confirming evidence is lacking? A fruitless profession is a false profession.
How do we make our calling and election sure?
Consider the context of 2 Peter 1:10. Before we even get to this verse, we see the point of the matter at hand.
2 Peter 1:5-7:
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
Make no mistake, 2 Peter 1:10 is ‘not’ saying that God needs our help. Our calling and election, if we indeed have it, are already sure from God’s perspective. The need is ours. We need to be sure of our calling, our election, and our very salvation. We have this assurance when we live a truly transformed life. And our lives are evidently transformed when our profession of faith in Christ is accompanied by those attributes listed in 2 Peter 1:5-7.
Our calling and election, just like our faith, must be evidenced by a transformation of our very lives. In Titus 2:14 we read, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Here, Paul continues by explaining the actual reason for Jesus’ sacrifice. He came to effect our redemption and purification from lawless deeds, not so we could carry on as we always had.
In 2 Corinthians 6:1 we read, “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” What good is grace when not received with joy and then acted upon? When grace is abused, perverted, or even ignored, we thereby spurn and demonstrate contempt for a most precious gift.
The Apostle Paul was asked, “What must I do to be saved?” In Acts 16:31we read, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” The carnal mind interprets this to mean: A mere intellectual acknowledgment is sufficient. This is a heretical view and its polar opposite is as well.
True conversion is evidenced in our Godly, outward response to the Gospel. True regeneration and saving faith changes us totally (2 Cor 5:17). A renewed heart produces a renewed walk; good works follow true faith.
Finally, good works are not something a person does to be saved, goods works are something a saved person does.