WEIGHING THE EVIDENCE
WE ARE NOT SAVED BY OUR OWN GOOD WORKS!
What does it mean when the Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9
“For by grace are you saved through faith: and that not of yourselves it is a gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Many different doctrines have come from this one verse, but which one is the truth?
Some believers teach that we are saved the moment we believe and confess Jesus as our Savior.
Some believers teach that salvation is conditional and that one can lose their salvation.
Some believers teach that once we are truly saved, then we can never lose our salvation.
Some believers teach that salvation is by grace alone and that no one can earn salvation by good works.
Some believers teach that salvation is a gift, but one must do good works in order to maintain their salvation.
The only way I know to get to the TRUTH is to weigh ALL the evidence of God’s word, the WHOLE word of God and not just a few isolated verses of scripture. When one sees a stack of evidence on one side and only a few vague arguments on the other side it would seem logical that the side with only the few arguments would rethink the way they were taught and choose what the word of God truly teaches as a WHOLE.
Before we weigh the evidence I want to define a few words, which you will need to accept by faith at the moment. But as we weigh the evidence of God’s word it will become clear that the meanings of these words are correct in the light of the WHOLE word of God. The three words that I want to define are GRACE, SAVED, and FAITH, for without defining them the way the word of God intends them to mean there can be no true understanding of SALVATION and what the whole word of God means by being SAVED.
Let’s begin with the word “SAVED”. First what does the word “saved” mean? The Greek word for saved is “SOZO” and means saved, delivered, set free, healed, safety, rescued, and to be in right relationship. So some things to think about are what are we SAVED from? What are we DELIVERED from? What are we SET FREE from? Who are we made to be in right relationship with?
Romans 6:22 says,
“But now being made FREE from SIN, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto holiness, and the END everlasting life.”
We have been set free or sozo (saved) from sin, and the reason we were SET FREE from sin is to become servants to God bearing fruit of righteousness and holiness until the day we receive everlasting life in the world tp come ("and the END everlasting life").
Romans 6:23 says,
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
All of mankind has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, thereby have earned the wages or the purchased provisions of sin which is death, or the SECOND DEATH being cast into the lake of fire to be eternally destroyed never to rise again..
II Corinthians 1:10 says,
“But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raises the dead: Who DELIVERED us from so great a death, and DOES deliver: in whom we TRUST that he will yet DELIVER us;”
Please notice that true faith is a CONTINUAL PRESENT tense of BELIEVING unto the END in order to be saved and to receive our reward of eternal life in the world to come so that the SECOND DEATH will NOT have any power over us who receive the END of our salvation.
I John 3:14 says,
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, BECAUSE we love the brethren. He that loves NOT the brethren abides in death."
You see, we have been saved or sozo (delivered) from death and given the PROMISE of eternal life as long as we ABIDE in love for the brethren. The word of God makes it very clear that IF we do NOT love the brethren, then we abide in DEATH and IF we remain in this state of NOT loving the brethren, then we will receive the wages of sin which is death and we will NOT receive eternal life, because death ABIDES in us. In other words. one can SAY that they are CHRISTIANS and that they LOVE God, but if they do NOT WALK their TALK, then no matter what the SAY they are ABIDING in DEATH. They are still yet UNDER the BONDAGE of SIN and the WAGES of DEATH, IS SO BE, that they are NOT walking in LOVE ob toward another.
You see my dear brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ, there is a CONDITION that needs to be met BEFORE our FULL REWARD of salvation is complete. The word of God teaches us that salvation is a “WAY”. Salvation is a journey. Salvation is a race that must be ran to the END of the race. The STARTING LINE of salvation is when we accept Jesus as our Savior to REPENT of our sins. Jesus then becomes not only the author of our faith, but also the FINISHER of our faith; IF SO BE THAT WE REMAIN IN THE RACE. Jesus must become our LORD in whom we SERVE and OBEY.
It is true that at the exact moment we accept Jesus as our Savior and we REPENT of our sins that we are saved at that exact moment in time, and IF we were to die that very next moment WITHOUT committing sin we would go to heaven and rest there under the altar in the presence of our Lord, until the time to receive eternal life. Now some believe and teach that accepting Jesus as their Savior is all they ever need to do, because they are taught that salvation is by grace ALONE and not of works. However this is not what the WHOLE word of God teaches. Salvation is a process that BEGINS with the first step of REPENTING of our sins and confessing our FAITH that Jesus died for our sins and that God raised Jesus from the dead.
Paul tells us in I Corinthians 9:26-27
“I therefore so run, not as uncertainty; so fight, not as one that beats the air: but I KEEP UNDER my body, and bring it into subjection; lest by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
Paul is saying that he runs the race of being saved knowing for a certainty that he must keep his body under subjection and not give into sin lest he himself become a castaway after preaching the gospel to others. Paul knew for a certainty that in order to be accounted worthy to receive the prize of eternal life that he must meet the condition to keep his body under subjection by NOT being overcome with the temptation to sin. Please understand that the Bible does NOT teach us that we shall NEVER sin again, but rather that we are INDEED SET FREE from the bondage of sin. The WHOLE word of God clearly teaches us that if and when we do fall and are over come by the deceitfulness of sin that IF SO BE we are OBEDIENT to the Holy Spirit to REPENT and CONFESS our sin that God is faithful to forgive us of all our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Paul goes on to say in Philippians 3:9-14, first read verse 9,
“And be found IN him, not having MINE OWN righteousness, which is of the law, but that (righteousness) which is through FAITH of Christ, the righteousness which is OF God by FAITH”.
Paul was seeking salvation through God’s WAY of righteousness and NOT through his OWN works of righteousness. Paul wanted to know the POWER of the Lord’s resurrection so that he also would attain unto the resurrection of eternal life. Paul was still working out his salvation, but he was doing it God’s WAY, which is through FAITH and not by his OWN WORKS of righteousness in his OWN STRENGTH lest he should have room to BOAST. You see, before Paul received Jesus he was the chiefest of the Pharisees and kept the law to the letter, which he had room to BOAST. But now Paul wants to know the POWER of God unto salvation.
Please read Philippians 3:10-14,
“That I may know him, and the POWER of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might ATTAIN unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had ALREADY ATTAINED, either were already perfect: but I FOLLOW after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Jesus Christ.
Brethren, I count NOT myself to have APPREHENDED: but this one thing I DO, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto the things which are before, I press toward the mark for the PRIZE of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
The word “attain” means to gain, to reach, to accomplish, or to arrive at. The word of God is saying that Paul was reaching toward the prize of eternal life, but he had not finished his course or race. So in other words, for Paul to ATTAIN the END or the REWARD of salvation as most Christians view the meaning as obtaining, attaining or apprehending ETERNAL LIFE, then Paul needed to stay the course and finish the race. And this is exactly what Paul did.
In I Timothy 4:6-8 Paul says,
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good FIGHT, I have FINISHED my course, I have KEPT THE FAITH: HENCEFORTH (or for this reason of KEEPING the faith) there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, SHALL GIVE me at THAT DAY: and not only to me, but unto all them that love his appearing.”
Paul ENDURED unto the END. He fought the good fight of FAITH, and he KEPT the FAITH unto the END. HENCEFORTH or therefore there was laid up for him a crown of righteousness. NOT because of Paul’s OWN righteousness, but because of Paul’s WORKS of RIGHTEOUSNESS by or through FAITH.
Paul by grace “THROUGH FAITH” was saved. That is to say, by believing the PROMISES of God that if God be for us then who can be against us; by believing God's FAITHFUL word which states that greater is he who is in us than he that is in the world; by believing the promise that if we resist the devil, then he will flee from us, Paul endured unto the end and SHALL receive the reward of eternal life together with us who are ALSO found to be FAITHFUL AT the SECOND COMING of Jesus.
You see, BECAUSE Paul was a doer of the word and not a hearer only, he WORKED the righteousness of God and was FAITHFUL unto DEATH and therefore was ACCOUNTED WORTHY to receive eternal life. It was NOT Paul’s OWN works of righteousness that made him worthy to receive eternal life, but Paul still needed to meet the CONDITION of WORKING the WORKS of RIGHTEOUSNESS of God THROUGH FAITH.
"For by GRACE are you SAVED, through FAITH, and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: not of WORKS (our OWN works of righteousness), lest any man should boast. For we are HIS WORKMANSHIP, created IN Christ Jesus UNTO (for the very purpose if you will to do) GOOD WORKS, which God has ordained that we should WALK in them.”
The word “ordained” here means to prepare beforehand. It has been God’s intention for mankind to live righteously even before he created mankind. So when man sinned he sent his Son to destroy sin.
Look at I John 3:8
“He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For THIS PURPOSE the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”
God has purposed that we should live righteously before him and he sent his only begotten Son to set us free from sin so that sin would have no more DOMINION over us. Thus we are saved by grace through faith that we should WALK in his righteousness. We are set free from the dominion of sin over us so that we should live righteously before God. Again it is not our own righteousness for we are HIS workmanship. It is God working in us by his Holy Spirit. So where is boasting? There is none, for our works of righteousness is by FAITH, by believing God's word. By being a DOER of the word and NOT a hearer only whereby we DECEIVE our self.
Revelation 3:4 says,
“You have a few names even in Sardis which have NOT defiled their garments, and they shall walk with me in white: for they are WORTHY.”
Only a FEW were found in Sardis who had not defiled their garments with sin. And ONLY those Christians who kept themselves pure by obeying God's word and not defiling their garments with sin were made WORTHY and were granted the RIGHT to walk with Jesus in white.
You have heard it said that the JUST shall live by FAITH. We have been justified or made JUST before God through Jesus Christ the moment we confessed him as our Savior. Now again if you were to die at the moment you received Jesus as your Savior, then you would be saved and SHALL receive eternal life AT the second coming of our Lord.
However, if your are reading this study in God's word, then you did not die the moment you received Jesus as your Savior, because you are reading this now. You see, our journey to attain eternal life BEGINS the moment we confess Jesus as our Savior, but CONTINUES BY or THROUGH the FAITH that God has freely given us in order that we might live righteously before God. It is not our OWN righteousness that we live in our OWN strength, but rather it is God’s righteousness working in us by God’s GRACE or power through the FAITH that is given to every man by God when that man or woman BELIEVES the promises of God.
When Paul was being buffeted by a messenger of Satan he sought the Lord three times for it to depart from him. The Lord answered him by telling not only him but also telling us, “My GRACE is sufficient for you”. God is telling us to use his GRACE for his grace is more than enough to handle any circumstance that comes our way. When Paul heard these words from God he knew immediately what God was telling him and responded with these words found in
II Corinthians 12:9
“…Most gladly therefore will I rejoice in my infirmities, that the POWER of Christ may rest upon me.”
Paul knew that God’s GRACE was God’s POWER.
Hebrews 4:16 says,
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of GRACE, that we may obtain mercy, and find GRACE to HELP in the time of need.”
You have heard that God’s GRACE is his unmerited favor towards us, thereby implicating that we are undeserving, but God showed his mercy toward us by sending his Son to redeem us to set us FREE from the bondage of sin so that sin will NO LONGER have DOMINION OVER US as NEW creatures in Jesus Christ. Now the simple meaning of grace as being UNMERITED FAVOR is true, but the true meaning GRACE according to the WHOLE word of God does not end there with our not deserving to be saved because of our OWN goods works wherein there is BOASTING. But rather our being redeemed or justified by FAITH is just the beginning of our being saved.
God’s GRACE brought us to this saving knowledge and it will be God’s GRACE that sustains us to the END. However, we must appropriate God’s GRACE THROUGH FAITH. God has given us his PROMISES (his GRACE) to live godly before him. We are to hide his word in our hearts that we might not sin against him.
The word “FAVOR” means support, advantage, benefit, to make easier or possible, and to aid. Favor means a kind or friendly attitude, an attitude that is caring and gentle, an attitude showing approval. Favor is an act showing evidence of such an attitude.
God’s GRACE or act showing his attitude toward mankind was his Son Jesus who died to make us FREE from SIN. God sent his Son to SAVE us. Are you seeing what salvation or being saved means. It means that God has provided everything we need to live GODLY in this present perverse world. And it is through FAITH that we obtain or appropriate these things to help us live godly before Almighty God our Father.
Read II Peter 1:3-4
“According as his divine POWER has given unto us ALL THINGS that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are GIVEN unto us exceeding great and precious PROMISES: that by THESE you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
“Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always OBEYED, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with FEAR and TREMBLING. For it is God which works in you (through the Holy Spirit) both to will and to do his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputing: (in other words be OBEDIENT to the Holy Spirit, WHY?) That you may be BLAMELESS and harmless, the sons of God, WITHOUT REBUKE, in the MIDST of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in VAIN, neither labored in VAIN.”
We are saved by GRACE, God working in us by his Holy Spirit. He is our HELPER. A helper is someone who comes alongside to aid or support, he is not there to do the work FOR you. We are to work out or work through our BEING saved. We must resist temptation and not give into sin. We must ENDURE to the END and THEN and ONLY then shall we be accounted worthy to receive eternal life.
Hebrews 2:1-3 says,
“Therefore we OUGHT to give the MORE EARNEST HEED to the things we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by the angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience RECEIVED a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we NEGLECT so great a salvation;…?”
When someone is NEGLIGENT it means that they are lacking in due care of something. We need to be attentive to our salvation and not be careless. The wages of sin is DEATH. Therefore we OUGHT to give the MORE EARNEST HEED to our salvation. The word “ought” here means OBLIGATION. Ought means duty, and comes from a word meaning owe or obliged to, thus indicating being owned or possessed.
Living righteously is not a suggestion or an option, but rather living righteously is an obligation. It is a commandment of God. And IF we do not OBEY God, then we will NOT inherit eternal life. So by GRACE, the POWER and PROMISES of God we OUGHT, that is to say we are obligated to give the MORE EARNEST HEED to OBEYING the Holy Spirit of God for it is ONLY through OBEDIENCE that we will continue to be saved and inherit eternal life.
Now let us weigh the EVIDENCE:
Jesus said in Matthew 24:11-14
“And many false prophets shall arise and DECEIVE many. And because INIQUITY shall abound, the love of MANY shall wax (grow) cold. But he that shall ENDURE unto the END, the SAME shall be SAVED."
In others words salvation is conditional, and if you do not endure temptation to the end, but give in to sin, and die in SIN, or be found living in SIN when Jesus comes again, then you will NOT be saved and inherit eternal life. If you do fall into sin, then I say to you, REPENT QUICKLY and seek God’s wisdom to keep you from continually being overcome by the enemy.
Hebrews 3:13-14 says,
“But EXHORT one another DAILY, while it is called Today; lest (for fear of) any of you be hardened though the deceitfulness of SIN. For we are MADE partakers of Christ, IF we hold the beginning of our confidence (or faith) STEADFAST unto the END."
In other words if we do not keep sin out of our lives we will NOT be made partakers with Christ and inherit eternal life.
Again in Hebrews 3:6 we read,
“But Christ as a Son over his own house; whose house are we, IF we HOLD FAST the confidence and rejoicing of the hope unto the END."
I Thessalonians 3:8 says it this way,
“For now we live (or have eternal life abiding in us) IF you STAND FAST in the Lord.”
Paul was worried that his brothers and sisters in Christ would be overcome by the tempter and his labor would be in vain. In other words they would lose their salvation.
“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled in the body of his death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: IF ye CONTINUE in the faith grounded and settled, and BE NOT MOVED AWAY from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.”
We must CONTINUE in the faith being grounded and settled and not moved away from the gospel of believing in and through Jesus Christ before we will be presented holy and blameless in his sight.
Galatians 6:9 says,
“And let us NOT be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, IF we faint not.”
We must not grow weary in well doing and faint, that is cease in well doing.
“The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children then heirs; heirs of God. And joint heirs with Christ; IF SO BE that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
Jesus suffered being tempted and it is required of us that we as well suffer being tempted. Jesus was our example to follow and did not give into sin, so neither should we be overcome by sin. Resisting temptation is suffering, it is a struggle, but God will strengthen us just as he strengthened Jesus.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:13
“You are the salt of the earth: BUT if the salt (you) have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is henceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and trodden under foot of men.”
Then Jesus goes on to say in verse 20,
“For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in NO WISE ENTER into the kingdom of heaven."
Back up in verse 17 Jesus says,
“Think NOT that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”
This word “fulfill” means to accomplish, or to perform. Jesus performed or kept the commandments of God as an example for us FOLLOW.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you: BUT IF ye forgive NOT men their trespasses, NEITHER will you Father forgive your trespasses.”
Our salvation is conditional. If we do not forgive others when they trespass against us,
then the word of God clearly states that our heavenly Father will not forgive us. Please read the
study "FORGIVE:WHAT DOES IT TRULY MEAN TO FORGIVE?" And since no sin will enter the
kingdom of God, then salvation requires WORKS of suffering wrongfully and forgiving others
who spitefully use us.
Now you and I both know that in the natural that is to say that in our OWN nature will not be able to
continually forgive those that wrong us and walk in love toward those who spitefully use us. And even if we are
able to forgive every time there would be boasting or pride in us for having done so.
So you see we are not saved by our OWN good works wherein there is BOASTING, but rather we are
saved for the purpose of doing GOOD WORKS. And MOREOVER we are REQUIRED to do WORKS of
righteousness. It is not an OPTION.
So if it is not an option and we are commanded to keep the commandments of God, obligated to do good works and required to forgive those that wrong us so that we may be forgiven, then salvation is by WORKS and NOT through FAITH by GRACE ALONE.
However, it is not in our OWN STRENGTH that we accomplish these works, but it is THROUGH the power and GRACE given to us by the Holy Spirit that we are able to walk BY FAITH without sin to do the works that Jesus also did through the Holy Spirit.
I Peter 2:21-22 says,
“For even hereunto were you CALLED: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an EXAMPLE, that you should FOLLOW HIS STEPS: Who did NO SIN, neither was guile found in his mouth:”
Jesus lived his life without sin through the power of the Holy Spirit as an EXAMPLE FOR US TO FOLLOW. Hereunto we are CALLED by God.
A young man asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, and Jesus told him he must keep the commandments of God. Then the young man responded, this I have done since my youth. Then Jesus told him to sell all he had and give to the poor. Then the young man went away sad, because he was rich. The disciples asked Jesus, who then can be saved? And Jesus answered, with men it is IMPOSSIBLE, but WITH God all things are possible.
It is impossible to live our lives without sin in OUR OWN STRENGTH, but WITH GOD through the power of the Holy Spirit it is possible to live our lives completely free from any and all sin. And living our lives without sin can and will be done.IF we walk AFTER the Holy Spirit and NOT after the flesh.
For by GRACE are we saved through FAITH. It is only through FAITH that we can live free from sin. We must first believe that we are able to live without sin before we will be able to produce the fruit of righteousness in our lives through grace and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 12:28-29 says,
“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, LET US HAVE GRACE, whereby we may serve God ACCEPTABLY with reverence and godly fear. (WHY?) For our God is a CONSUMING FIRE.”
Work out your OWN salvation with God with FEAR and TREMBLING. Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. May God bless you richly as you seek to know the TRUTH of his word.
Always and Forever in Christ Jesus,
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