Ok! It's time for my first Bible study post! :) This is a topic that has been on my mind since early December and I'm sooo happy to finally have it all written down! I would really appreciate any feedback/insight that any of you may have regarding this subject. Please feel free to comment and to pour some wisdom into my post! :)
Ephesians 2:8-9~ For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
According to this passage, we are saved only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We are not saved by works. Romans 3:28 states, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law." Romans 4 uses Abraham as an example of this.
Romans 4:1-3~ What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." (That was first written in Genesis 15:6.)
Abraham was justified by faith, not by his works. I have also had James 2:14-26 pointed out to me. The main verses that have been applied were verses 21-26 that talk about Abraham and his faith/works.
James 2:21-22~ Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected.
Abraham had faith, he acted on his faith (works,) and his faith was perfected by his works. Clearly explained. You have to have faith first. You act on your faith, showing your faith/salvation. Your faith is perfected. That's the process. It's simple. The book of James is addressed to believers. It isn't talking about how to be saved, but it is talking about how to live our lives as Christians. Living out our faith is what is being discussed in chapter 2. It isn't telling us that to be saved we must do good works, it is telling us that we should show our faith by our works. If we aren't living it out, we may need to ask ourselves if we are truly saved. I'll address that a little later on with a verse from II Corinthians 5.
Romans 4:4-5~ Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness...
Our works are not credited as a favor, but as what is due. We owe it to God to do good works, but those works are not what saves us. Our belief in Him justifies us.
This next passage is one that has just recently come to my attention. Well... Actually, I've read it over and over and over again, but you know how sometimes you just have a revelation about a passage and the Lord reveals something new to you through it? Well, that happened to me with this passage:
John 6:26-29~ Jesus answered them and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal." Therefore they said to Him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."
The work of God: That you believe in Him whom He has sent. WOW. That is ALL it takes!!! Is that not amazing? It is so simple! It is our sinful pride, as humans, that causes us to think that we have to earn our salvation. We think that we MUST do something for ourselves. But, the truth is, we can't do anything. We can never be good enough to earn salvation. We cannot work hard enough.
Now, I'm not saying that good works are completely unnecessary, but they do not save you.
Ephesians 2:10~ For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
According to this verse, we were created for good works. Good works should be a result of our salvation. Good works mean nothing without faith in Jesus Christ. Good works are very necessary, especially in the fact that they can be/are the way we show our salvation. Once we accept the gift of salvation, if we are truly saved, we will be a new creature.
II Corinthians 5:7~ Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
We should have a completely different mindset and be living our lives according to God''s word, if we have truly accepted Christ. Some people believe that repentance and prayer could be considered "works" of salvation. I see them as a part of faith or trusting Christ. You cannot truly accept Christ as your Saviour unless you see that you are a human with a sinful nature that *NEEDS* a Saviour. You must be able to repent, in order to accept Christ.
Romans 10:9-10, 13~ that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation... for "whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Another point that people try to make is that it is possible to lose your salvation. I don't believe that way. Our salvation in Christ is not temporary, but eternal. There is nothing that you can do to remove yourself from Christ's hand, once you are saved.
John 10:28-30~ "...and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one."
We will make mistakes, but we're human. We will never be perfect and we will never be able to live a sinless life. But, no matter how badly we mess up sometimes, God will never let us go. That doesn't mean that we should just continue in sin, because we are under grace. Paul warns about this in the whole chapter of Romans 6.
Romans 6:14-18~ For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
I believe that once you're saved, you're always saved. Good works do not lead to salvation, but they should be a result of salvation.
I'd like to close with these passages:
Romans 14:22-23~ The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
Hebrews 3:13~ But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
We all believe differently, and I love being able to express my opinions and beliefs and being able to hear about the beliefs of others. I'm not the judge of who is right or wrong. But, I think these are definitely the kinds of topics that we, as believers, should be discussing. Not to bring each other down with our disagreements, but in order to build each other up, challenge each other, and encourage each other in Christ.