Works: How important is it to perform good works?
Salvation comes by grace through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ apart from any works on our part. There is not one thing we could ever do to earn something as precious as salvation. Scripture clearly tells us salvation is a gift. For this reason and more we should seek to be highly productive in good works for our God who was gracious to provide us with eternal salvation and all its blessings. But the Bible clearly speaks to us today, telling us good works performed by any person are not the basis for their salvation.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Emphasis added]
The next verse in this passage speaks of the good works we as Christians are then able to perform in conformity to God’s will for us. Such works should be a result of our salvation, they are not the means to it.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. [Emphasis added]
Again, these works have nothing to do with providing us with a basis for salvation. The passage merely speaks of how it is God’s plan for us to perform good works as His people who have been saved by His one work which was performed through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
As you will see below, there are many passages of Scripture that address this issue. It is faith, not works, that gains salvation for us. Here are but a few. It is through the apostle Paul that God gives us our instructions about the means to salvation in our time, this Dispensation of The Grace of God of which we are a part.
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. [Emphasis added]
6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. [Emphasis added]
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. [Emphasis added]
From the day of our salvation, we should strive to serve our Lord who graciously saved us. There will always be a variety of works we can do in His behalf as an expression of our appreciation for what He has provided freely.
9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; [Emphasis added]
It is through our growth from our study and application of God’s Word that we can become equipped to be very productive in our service for our Lord.
II Timothy 3:16-17
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. [Emphasis added]
It is because of such works that we will be rewarded at what is called the Judgment Seat of Christ. This will by no means be a time or judgment of condemnation and shame, but a time of rejoicing as we are rewarded for whatever works of service we have performed for our Lord.
I Corinthians 15:58
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. [Emphasis added]
II Corinthians 5:10
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. [Emphasis added]
I Corinthians 3:13-15
13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. [Emphasis added]
Obviously, not all works are rewarded, only those things done to honor our Lord. Therefore, our focus needs to be on being rich in good works, rather than only the riches of this world.
I Timothy 6:17-18
17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; [Emphasis added]
Both young and old should be focused on this.
6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.
7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. [Emphasis added]
It will be after what is called the Rapture when rewards will be distributed. That is a time we should all be eagerly anticipating.
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. [Emphasis added]
8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. [Emphasis added]
Yes, our service to our Lord is profitable in time, but especially in eternity. Let us all give that objective our undivided attention.
Some concluding remarks:
It is important that we not confuse God’s program for today with what He had in the past for Israel, and with what He will have yet again in the coming period of history known as The Tribulation. In those times, works of various kinds are clearly a part of God’s salvation program. Our focus, particularly when it comes to the basis for salvation, needs to be on the writings of the Apostle Paul, for it is he who is said to be the apostle to the Gentiles.
13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [Emphasis added]
The Apostle Paul wrote thirteen epistles (letters). Our primary focus is to be on those writings that are specifically addressed TO US. Certainly, the whole Bible is FOR us, but it is not all TO us.
4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. [Emphasis added]
Making these distinctions is called “rightly dividing” the Scriptures.
II Timothy 2:15
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [Emphasis added]
Apart from understanding the meaning and application of the right division of Scripture, we are all subject to misunderstanding the place of good works in our lives.
Salvation: Can a person be certain they are going to Heaven?
Salvation: Is the salvation of a Believer secure?