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Stairway to Heaven: Faith vs. Works

Updated on April 2, 2016

Romans 4

New International Version (NIV)

1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter?2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God.3What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.

4Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation.5However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.

Is salvation and thus eternal union with God completely free? First, I suppose “completely free” might be considered a redundant term, in that free implies completeness by definition. I often tell my children that nothing in this world is free outside of God’s grace. Everything comes at a price for us, as would our innate tendency to rebel against God had it not been for Christ’s stand in at the cross. My childhood and early adulthood saw a growing conflict take place within. I had been taught, perhaps indirectly and without clarity, that standing with God was dependent on both Christ’s sacrifice and my behavior. I had no issue believing that Jesus did His thing. My contribution to the effort, however, increasingly fell short as I got older. I did more and more of what I felt I should not, and demonstrated an increasing trend towards it. If my contribution to a state of righteousness was truly required, I was in a bit of a jam.

Fast forward several years and a great deal of personal decline, the scenario became hopeless; hopeless until I read from Romans Ch 7, where Paul outlined a predicament equivalent to mine. The key difference being, his predicament had a solution I had not considered. That solution being, he was in no way a contributor in obtaining fellowship with God. Rather, only a recipient of complete forgiveness, none of which was earned or merited by himself. If that was true, I had a chance. Better than that actually, a guarantee. I have heard it said that pride stands in the way of accepting grace, of understanding it. That particular brand of pride did not seem to present an obstacle for me. I was perfectly willing to take a free pass if it was indeed offered.

I do continue to encounter interpretation lending itself to a conclusion that salvation is a process dependent on our continuing choices. A status, therefore, that can fluctuate over time. This opposed to a step function based on one choice, one time, which places us into God’s family once and for all. I hopefully cling to the latter of the two, simply because the “me” element does not instill any sort of security. Put another way, I am happy and hopeful to give all the credit to God and be a beneficiary, to get up every day and thank Him for cutting me a break. If He will take me as I am, work on me and shape me into what He wants me to be, then I am perfectly willing to let Him have at it. It can be all about Him as opposed to me. The only reason me even matters, then, is because of Him. That’s OK with me.


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      Deborah Sexton 4 years ago

      1 John 3:4

      Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

      After going directly to God asking forgiveness, keep His commandments and (*see bottom)

      Exodus 20:1-17

      1. And God spake all these words, saying,

      2. I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

      3. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

      4. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

      5. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

      6. And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

      7. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

      8. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

      9. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

      10. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

      11. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

      12. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

      13. Thou shalt not kill.

      14. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

      15. Thou shalt not steal.

      16. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

      17. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

      *Acts 15:29

      29. That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well

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      Deborah Sexton 4 years ago

      God does love you and that's what He wants from you, love. It's not hard to keep God's law or do good works.

      We feel the best when we do good.

    • lucabrasi profile image

      lucabrasi 4 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      Your points are well taken. Just seems I need forgiveness that's all. My desire is to serve Jesus (Yahshua?) earnestly. Just want to be loved and welcomed by God, despite my tendencies at times. Not looking for a free ride, license to do whatever my flesh desires and claim salvation. You are smart, I appreciate what you know. PTL.

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      Deborah Sexton 4 years ago

      Do you believe Yahshua or Paul? Of course those who do not want to do good works, prefers Paul. Paul sowed tares, but Yahshua (Jesus) said leave the tares among the wheat. If you know God you will also know the tares.

      In Matthew 5:16 Yahshua says to let your light shine, that people will see your good WORKS, and glorify God.

      People cannot see your faith unless it is by your works. You have no other way to show your faith.

      In Matthew 16:27 it says every man will be rewarded according to his works, not his faith.

      The same is said in Revelation 20:12,13. It says the people are judged by what is written in the book, according to their WORKS, not their faith.

      Who started the false doctrine of faith over works?

      Paul denies that works are important and puts the emphasis on faith.

      James knew what Paul taught and contradicted him. He said, “You believe there is ONE God, you do well, the devils believe also, and tremble”.

      There is nothing special about believing, even the devils believe. MY NOTE: But the devil does not do good works. If he did, he would be casting out satan.

      James continues to tell the one who teaches faith over works (Paul) that faith without works is dead. There goes his grace through faith doctrine.

      Yahshua did not teach faith over works.

      James says that Abraham was justified by works, and by his works his faith was made perfect.

      When Abraham was taking his son to the altar, Isaac says to his father, we have all the things we need, but where is the Lamb.

      Abraham tells Isaac “The Lord will provide the lamb”

      Abraham could have believed this all day long, and it wouldn’t have mattered. It was when Abraham laid Isaac on the altar and pulled the knife that the angel intercepted. See Genesis 22:1-13

      In verse 16 God tells Abraham “because thou hast DONE this thing”

      Done is a verb, an action, a work.

      He goes on to ask “was not Rehab the harlot justified by her works when she sent the messengers out the other way?” Faith without works is dead.

      He compares works with the spirit, how the body is dead without it.


      James 2:19-26