Mysteries of Christianity: Salvation by Works?
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" Ephesians 2:8-9.
It seems clear from scripture that works will not give you salvation. In other words, you cannot "earn" your way into heaven by doing good deeds. Why was this such an important lesson? Because the Laws of Moses did not result in righteousness for its own sake, but for the sake of mortal ego. People were being good so that others would view them as good and think kindly on them. They were shooting their arrow of "good" at the wrong target; they were aiming at this world rather than at God.
So, is there no value in good works? Should we do nothing? Or do evil? Of course not.
Can we claim salvation by saying it is so—by saying that we now follow Christ? Wouldn't that be an "act" or a "work?" Can we claim salvation by being Baptized in the name of Jesus? Again, wouldn't that be a "work?"
If we do these things without faith—a reliance and confidence in the spirit and meaning of Christ—would we be saved?
If we reside in a burning house and make our way to the roof to find a beam stretching to the next roof, we need to have faith in the beam and the house of safety. We also would need to act on that faith and cross over from this world to the realm of salvation, even before our bodily death.
How Can Wholesale Destruction Be an Act of Love?
This book is from years of my own research into a biblical timeline compatible with those of mainstream science. I wasn't surprised that God's holy book would match his own creation (reality), but there were many surprises, including discovering through science the target of Noah's Flood -- a species which went extinct at that time.
Can anyone be deceived into thinking that they are following Christ, but instead be following the things of this world?
What if a Christian, after finding the bliss of apparent redemption, still lusts after the things of this world? What if they boast? What if they covet? What if they lie to their customers in order to gain unfair advantage. What if they lay with others than their spouse, convinced, now being saved, that no harm should befall them?
Perhaps a better question is, "What does 'following Christ' mean?" If someone lusts after the things of this world, are they still following Christ? When following Christ, is there any room for such a stain?
Good Works Before Salvation
Are good works before salvation of any use?
Let us look at the parable of the Bridegroom's attendants. In this we find wisdom which can be applied here.
"Then the disciples of John came to him saying, 'Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?' Jesus said to them, 'Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and they will fast. No one puts on a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch pulls away from the garment and tear is made worse. Nor do they put wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins will break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved'" (Matthew 9:14-17).
If a man has habits that distract him from the task at hand, can he do that task well? When he finds those habits and is made fully aware of them, he can decide to give them up. However, if he is not aware of those habits, he will continue suffering from those failings.
If a man is living in sin but is unaware of those sins, how can he be saved if he does not know them in order willingly to give up those sins? If God requires that we love Him with all our heart, but our heart finds other things to love, can we fulfill that commandment?
By doing good works before our salvation we can shed the habits and temptations of the flesh so that the new wine of salvation will enter a new vessel of love for God.
While it is true that none will be saved unless they go through Christ, we need to be aware of what it means and when it is accomplished that one goes through Christ. Many have felt the bliss of being on the path toward salvation, but then they stop in the road, thinking that they have already arrived.
Works from faith are blessed indeed. With true faith we cannot stand idly by and do nothing. But acts before salvation to prepare the way for that gift can be blessed also, because they serve God and the purpose of salvation.