Works Necessary for Salvation
Calm down! Take a chill pill. I don’t mean that works are a part of becoming saved or converted. We know that salvation is a free gift of God obtained through faith. Not a single soul can earn or merit salvation based on any work, righteous or not.
…he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration, and renewal of the Holy Spirit…” (Titus 3:5a, ESV)
It is clear that no one is saved by any kind of a work, good, bad, or even indifferent. Salvation is a work of God in the soul of a man whom the Holy Spirit has been brought to the conviction of sin and sins. No one will ever enter heaven who worked for it.
There are at least two questions that must be addressed when we talk about salvation. These two questions are even inherent in our word “repent.” Repentance means that we turn from our sin and sins and we turn to God in faith and obedience. So, the first question that one must address in regards to salvation is, “What are we saved from?” In other words, why do we need salvation? This, I think, is the missing element from most offers of salvation. We must be convinced and convicted of the gravity of our sin against God. We must “feel the weight” of the judgment and damnation of our sin.
The second question that must be addressed is, “What are we being saved to?” In other words, what happens when we turn from our sin and sins and turn to God in faith?
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, ESV)
Of course the epistle from James, half-brother of Jesus and first pastor of the Jerusalem Bible Church was written to demonstrate that true salvation results in a lifestyle of works.
“So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:17-18, ESV)
Paul exhorted the Philippian believers to, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12b-13, ESV)
I confess to you that these thoughts have not just come out of the blue. Neither do I desire to stir up a hornet’s nest nor create fear or uncertainty in anyone who reads this about their own personal salvation. Yet, I do not wish to see anyone deceived concerning the reason for their “assurance.” I have no desire to see anyone base their assurance of eternal salvation off of a date or a decision.
My morning devotions at this time are taken from the first epistle of the Apostle John. As I am meditating through this letter I am seeing example after example of the assurance of salvation. As a matter of fact this is one of the reasons John wrote this letter, “…these things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” (I John 5:13, KJV) John wrote about what constitutes the assurance of salvation and the confidence that a believer can have. Not once did he refer his readers to a date or decision. He listed works as the evidence of salvation. True salvation is evidenced by and results in various types of works.