Is salvation by grace or by works? Is grace alone enough for salvation or should a person earn his/her salvation by works?
This type of question has divided churches and also created cults. What does the Bible teach and are there contradictions in the Scriptures in relation to whether salvation is by grace or by works?
SALVATION BY GRACE
Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast
By simply learning from Ephesians 2:8,9 we can learn the following points in relation to salvation:
1. We are saved by grace (vs 8)
2. We are saved through faith in Jesus Christ (vs 8)
3. We are saved NOT of ourselves (vs 8)
4. Salvation is the gift of God (vs 8)
5. Our salvation is NOT of works, lest anyone should boast (vs 9)
1. WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE
Grace is when God gives us something that we do not deserve. Even though we deserve to go to hell because of our sins, God lovingly and graciously sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross in payment for our sins so what we do not have to perish in hell (John 3:16), (Mark 10:45).
Grace is Christ paying for us the debt that we ourselves should be paying (Ephesians 1:7).
2. WE ARE SAVED THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST
There is no other name by whom we can be saved except by the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the World. Only Christ paid for the sins of man on the cross and it is by putting out total trust or faith in Him as the way the truth & the life that we can have eternal life (John 14:6)
3. OUR SALVATION IS NOT OF OURSELVES
Our personal effort; our personal character; our personal abilities; cannot save us. Our salvation as Christians is TOTALLY and SOLELY the work of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. We are totally depraved and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Our righteousness without Christ are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). The work of salvation is totally of Jesus Christ. The debt of sin has been totally paid by the blood of Jesus Christ.
4. SALVATION IS THE GIFT OF GOD
Salvation is a gift. Nobody works for a gift – but a gift is freely given. Romans 6:23 also refers to eternal life as a gift. Therefore we do not have to pay the debt which Christ has already paid for. The blood of Jesus has fully paid for our sins and the result is that we receive eternal life freely through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:18,19)
5. OUR SALVATION IS NOT OF WORKS – LEST ANYONE SHOULD BOAST
If salvation where by works, then the door would be open for man to boast in his own effort and in his own ability to save himself. Most cults and religions believe that man can be saved by his own works. However, the Scriptures teach that man is justified by faith in Jesus Christ and that salvation is the work of Christ and NOT the work of man.
We are not righteous because of our works, we are righteous because of Christ in us and the work He did for us on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). Therefore we do not boast in ourselves but we boast in the Lord because only God deserves the glory for our salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30,31).
IS SALVATION ALSO BY WORKS?
James 2:22 NKJV – Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
Does the whole of James chapter 2 disagree with what Paul wrote about salvation being through faith? Do the Scriptures contradict themselves in that certain portions of the Bible speak of salvation through faith whilst another portion of scripture speaks of salvation by works?
No. The Scriptures do not contradict themselves at all. Paul and James do not contradict each other.
James is simply differentiating the hypocrites / false believers from the genuine believers.
In context, James is refuting the belief that a person can have genuine faith without producing any good works (James 2:17,18). Genuine faith will not leave a person unchanged in his life & character (James 2:20-26).
Therefore, James is NOT saying that justification / salvation is by faith PLUS works, but rather that a person who is truly justified by GENUINE faith will automatically have good works in his/her life. If a person claims to be a believer, but has no good works in his life, then he needs to examine his faith or he likely does not have genuine faith in Christ (James 2:14,17,20,26).
Salvation is therefore by GRACE through GENUINE faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8,9). According to Galatians 3:21 “we are all sons of God through FAITH in Jesus Christ”.
There are at least 166 Bible verses that speak of salvation or justification through faith.
Salvation is NOT by our works. It is by grace through faith in Christ.
Romans 11:6 – And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
Romans 4:4,5 – Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. 5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness
Romans 4:16 – Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all
How Do You Do Good Works?
As we allow ourselves to be filled and led by the Holy Spirit we bear good fruit and perform good works (Galatians 5:22-25).
You can only do good works when you are led by the Holy Spirit and only born again Christians can be led & filled by the Holy Spirit.
As James states in his epistle, our genuine faith will lead us to perform good works. These good works that we perform are not out of our own strength, but they are a result of us willingly allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us for the glory of God. Therefore our good works are not of ourselves or because of our personal merit, but our works are of the Holy Spirit in us.
DO YOU WANT TO BE A CHRISTIAN or A FOLLOWER OF JESUS CHRIST???
1. ACKNOWLEDGE: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).
You must acknowledge that you are a sinner and that you therefore need Jesus in your life.
2. REPENT: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3), “Repent therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19)
Repenting means: to change your mind; a sincere turning away, in heart, mind and action;
Therefore God wants you to repent of sinful values and of sinful living. God wants you to decide to follow Him and to make Jesus the Lord of your life.
3. CONFESSION: “If we confess our sins. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9)
God is a forgiving God. God will forgive any sin that you have done because Jesus died for ALL your sins and to set you free from the bondage of all types of sin in your life.
4. BELIEVE: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
You must believe that ONLY Jesus can save you and restore your relationship with God. You must believe that Jesus is the ONLY way by which you can have everlasting life and escape from eternal separation from God. You must believe that Jesus died on the cross for you and resurrected from the grave.
“He came to His own, and His own did not receive him, But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:11-12)
By faith, You must receive Jesus as Your Lord & Savior and therefore; you become a child of God; you become born again; you become a Christian; you restore your broken relationship with God
Why Not Make Your Eternal Decision NOW?
We become born again Christians by GRACE through FAITH or TOTAL TRUST in Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior (Galatians 3:26) & (Ephesians 2:8,9). Salvation is a FREE gift received through FAITH in Christ.
This prayer is only an EXPRESSION of your faith, belief & trust in Jesus. Salvation is by GRACE through FAITH or BELIEVING in Christ Jesus as your Lord & Saviour.
“Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your love. I thank You that You died on the cross for me and resurrected so that I may have life through You.
I confess Lord that I have sinned against You and today I ask You to forgive me of all of my sins, past present and future.
I repent of all of my sins and I ask You to cleanse me Jesus.
Thank You for forgiving my sins.
From this moment, come into my life Lord Jesus & take full control of my life. I want to follow You Jesus and I want to follow Your ways. Save me and from today, make me the person You want me to be.
I receive You Lord Jesus right now by faith. I trust You as my Lord and Savior – Amen”
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