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Works Will Not Save, But Works Are Required to Save

Works Will Not Save, But Works Are Required to Save

David Sproule-West Palms beach church of Christ


There are fewer subjects that will get some denominational folks charged up as much as the discussion of works and salvation.  It has seemed over the years that some very sincere religious individuals consider “work” (as used in a “Christian context”) to be a four-letter word that should be avoided.

Unfortunately, some have tried to pit some Bible verses against other Bible verses, to make an apparent contradiction between what the Bible says about works.  We must remember that the Bible has no contradictions!  If there is an apparent contradiction, the problem is with us and not with the Bible!  It is up to us to change us, and not to change the Bible!

The New Testament speaks about “works of the law” (Gal. 2:16Rom. 3:27-28).  Early Christians of a Jewish background struggled with their new relationship to (and without) the old law.  They had to be reminded that “by faith in Jesus Christ” (Gal. 2:16), they no longer needed nor could they be “justified by works of the law.”  When we read, we need to see if these are the “works” under discussion.

The New Testament speaks about “works” of human merit (Rom. 4:2-9Eph. 2:8-10).  Ephesians chapter two is often the passage to which individuals run to “prove” (in their minds) that we are not saved by works.  But what kind of “works” is Paul addressing?  Notice in both of these passages that Paul is speaking of “works” by which a man (whether Abraham or a Christian) could “boast.”  Our salvation is certainly “not of works” by which we might “boast” (Eph. 2:8-9), lest we think that we can earn our salvation.  But that does not, by any means, deny that God can still require certain works of us in order to secure salvation.  When we read, we need to see if the “works” are meritorious works.

The New Testament speaks about “works” of obedience (Jas. 2:14-26).  This is where folks want to suggest that the Bible contradicts itself.  It does not!  The inspired text clearly teaches that “…faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead…faith without works is dead…Abraham our father [was] justified by works…by works faith was made perfect…a man is justified by works, and not by faith only…”  These are not meritorious works, by which someone earns salvation.  These are works of obedience, which are required in order for Christ to save us (Heb. 5:9).  When we read, we need to see if the “works” under discussion are the means of obeying God.

Christians are “created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Eph. 2:10; cf. Matt. 5:14-16Tit. 2:11-143:1814).  We are required to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).  “Work” is not a bad word.  It’s a glorious requirement to demonstrate our love (John 14:15).

 How Many Verses Is Satan Waiting for You

 David Sproule  

It is very likely that we disconnect Matthew chapter 3 from Matthew chapter 4 in our minds.  We usually do that with chapters—when we see a division, our minds draw a line of separation.  Additionally, there are certain chapters that we have designated their themes into differing categories.  Matthew chapter 3 is about “The Baptism of Jesus.”  Matthew chapter 4 is about “The Temptations of Jesus.”  Again, we have that pegged in our minds, and so the two chapters are about two different major events in the life of Christ.  And perhaps they should be separated.  But I want you to look at something that connects them.

Jesus came to John the Immerser to be baptized “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15).  When He “came up…from the water,” “the Spirit of God” descended and the “voice” of God spoke “from heaven.”  Pay attention to His affirmation, “This IS My beloved SON, in whom I am well pleased” (3:17).  GOD spoke!  He identified Jesus as possessing the nature of God, for He is God (John 1:15:1810:3033).  Who would dare test or deny the words of God right on the heels of them being spoken?

Now, ignore the chapter division.  Matthew didn’t put it there.  Just keep reading.  The very next verse (4:1) informs the reader that Jesus was “tempted by the devil.”  How would the devil tempt the Son of God?  What would he throw at Him first?  Notice the first words recorded from Satan in the wilderness.  Only three verses after God the Father said, “This IS My beloved Son,” the tempter came to Jesus and said, “IF You are the Son of God…” (4:3).  The devil did not waste any time to attempt to plant a seed of doubt—you can almost here the hissing from his lips, “Ifffffff…”

So, here’s a question that may sound strange—how many verses does the devil wait in your life before he tries to plant a seed of doubt in your heart regarding the words of God?  When you read the words from God that say, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth” (Eph. 4:29), how many verses is it in your life before the devil tempts you to let a corrupt word out?  When you read the words from God that say, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another” (Eph. 4:32), how many verses is it in your life before the devil tempts you to be unkind, hard-hearted and unforgiving?  Make that application with every verse of truth and instruction from God.  How soon does the devil put you to the test?

Friends, don’t give the devil an inch!  If he was brash enough to throw it back in Jesus’ face so soon, he will have no problem testing you immediately!  RESIST HIM (Jas. 4:7)!

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