Recently on my Instagram page, I had multiple run-ins with those who claim that we need to perform works as a part of our salvation. While I would never be against anyone doing something to help another person; to try and contribute that act to your salvation is foolish thinking. There would not be enough good works performed by a single person, or even a large crowd to get one person into heaven. Our works are a result of our salvation, and they come from obedience towards God, nothing else.
Let’s examine what the Bible says about how works play into salvation. We have to understand first how salvation actually works before we can see where our works play a role. In Romans 8:29-30 we catch what is called the Golden Chain of Salvation. In Eternity past, God foreknew us, then He predestined us, then called us, then He Justified us, and finally glorified us. In this entire process, we do not see any action, or any responsibility put upon man, it is solely on God. He is the one predestined us and called us. Nowhere in this passage does Paul tell the Romans that they must complete these works, or actions or even to “accept” Jesus into their hearts. These are all additional teachings brought on by misinterpreting the Scriptures.
We continue on looking through scripture and find other verses and passages that hold a stance against works-based salvation, such as Romans 3:28 and Romans 4:1-5. Paul tells us in 3:28 that, “We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” Here man is justified apart from his works; again, nothing we can contribute to our salvation. The most famous passage to shred the works-based salvation is Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
An issue that arises with those who claim works equal salvation is that they want to contribute something to their salvation. We see all throughout scripture that God does not require acts from anyone He chooses, yet this false teaching is becoming rampant in churches today. While works should never be downplayed, we cannot contribute to our salvation. God does not need our works, but our neighbor does. God keeps a memory of all of our works but does not require them. Such is the case with the thief on the cross. In Ephesians 2, verse 9, shows exactly why we can’t contribute our works, “so that no one may boast.” I certainly do not want to get to heaven and have to listen to people brag about all the works they did. God designed this process perfectly, so that no man may boast, and everyone in heaven is on equal grounds. We contribute nothing; those who hold to their works and do not accept the free gift of salvation will face the same Jesus as hinted to in Matthew 7:21-23. We are saved by grace through faith, this is why the Reformers held so dearly to Sola Fide (Faith Alone).
Written by Alex Zenk, @reformed_lifestyle