Type to search

Works: What about verses that seem to demand them for salvation?

Gary Googe Mar 02

If you speak to someone about salvation by grace through faith ALONE, have you noticed how quickly some people will quote Scripture to you? They seem to relish the idea of running to a place like the book of James to counter or supplement what you are saying. So far as they are concerned, there are at least two verses that prove works DO count for one’s salvation. Another way of putting it is to say they want to make sure you know faith in Christ alone is not good enough for God to save you.

James 2:17

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. [Emphasis added]

James 2:20

20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? [Emphasis added]

The person who quotes these may have the best of intentions, but whether they realize it or not, they have just made a serious confession. And what is that confession? It is that they have no idea what this next passage of Scripture means and how it relates to what they have just quoted for you.

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]

If you quote this verse to that person, even though they probably won’t admit it, they typically have no idea what it means. Then, if they go to their Bible to look at this verse, they may get even more confused by the way the verse is translated in their non-King James Version translation of the Bible. What people often don’t realize is that many Bible translators have not been good students of the teachings of the Bible. They may have great linguist skills, but they are not familiar with what passages like this are communicating. If they don’t know what it means, they translate it another way that’s more consistent with their own beliefs on that subject. Therefore, their “translation” becomes more of an “interpretation” than a translation.

So, what is this thing of rightly dividing Scripture? It is understanding that although all the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is written FOR us, it is not all TO us or ABOUT us. A simple illustration of this would be that in times past God forbade His people to eat swine (or pork).

Leviticus 11:7-8

And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be cloven-footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.

Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you. [Emphasis added]

Clearly someone could quote this verse and use it as a basis for saying the Bible commands us not to eat pork today. However, there is Scripture that tells us that in our time such foods are not forbidden. We are told that in our time ANY food that provides nourishment may be eaten.

I Timothy 4:4-5

For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:

For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. [Emphasis added]

The list of commands you can find in the Bible that are not TO us or FOR us today is endless. There are also those things believers were able to do at one time but are no longer able.

Examples:

Being commanded to…

…tithe all one’s income vs. not being required to do this.

…be baptized for salvation vs. it not being required for salvation.

…observe certain feast days vs. not being required to observe them.

…perform works for salvation vs. not having to perform works for salvation.

…worship on the Sabbath vs. not being required to worship on the Sabbath.

…sell all one’s possessions vs. not being required to sell all one’s possessions.

…have all possessions in common with others vs. not being required to do that.

Being able to…

…heal anyone at will vs. not being able to do that.

…speak miraculously in foreign languages vs. not being able to do that.

…ask and receive anything through prayer vs. not being able to do that.

 

There are examples of how right division involves many other important distinctions.

Examples:

  • Participating in the Rapture vs. the Second Coming of Christ.
  • Being in the Body of Christ vs. being a part of believing Israel.
  • Having an eternal home in Heaven vs. an eternal home on a New Earth.

The process of learning and knowing which commands and promises are to us and which ones are not is called rightly dividing the word of truth [II Timothy 2:15].

This concept of the “right division” of Scripture is by no means new. For instance, a Bible scholar and translator of the 1500’s named Miles Coverdale understood this issue and taught it this way.  Please note what he says about it.

“It shall greatly help ye to understand the Scriptures if thou mark not only what is spoken or written, but of whom and to whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstances, considering what goeth before and what followeth after.”

In other words, context and other matters are important to the process of rightly understanding what God wants us to believe and apply from the Bible in our time. It takes diligent study of the Scriptures to sort these things out.

The number one thing to understand in rightly dividing the Scriptures is the difference between the Apostle Paul’s message to the uncircumcision (to us, as Gentiles) and Peter’s message to the circumcision (Israel).

The fact that the message of Paul and that of Peter are not the same is made plain. Take a look!

Galatians 2:7

But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me [Paul], as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; [Emphasis added]

Paul’s gospel to the Gentiles:

I Corinthians 15:1-4

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]

Peter’s gospel to Israel:

Acts 2:38

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. [Emphasis added]

Just as God once used Moses as His spokesperson to represent Him, here we see that Peter was used in a similar way. Today, in our time, it is Paul who serves as God’s representative, putting forth in his writings (13 epistles) God’s policy for us today. The Apostle Paul is our apostle today and there is no way to “rightly divide” the Scriptures when his gospel message is all jumbled together with Peter’s gospel message to Israel. As we just noted, they are NOT the same. Peter’s gospel message is FOR our understanding, but Paul’s gospel message is specifically TO us. This will continue to be the case all the way to the time of the Rapture. Once again, let’s look at these two very important verses of Scripture.

Galatians 2:7-8

But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision [salvation by grace through faith alone in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ – I Corinthians 15:1-4] was committed unto me [Paul], as the gospel of the circumcision [salvation by repentance (changing their mind and accepting Jesus as their Messiah, as well as obedience to the Mosaic Law) plus submission to water baptism – Acts 2:38] was unto Peter;

(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) [Emphasis added]

Clearly this passage is differentiating between TWO different gospel messages. The grammar of the text makes this plain.  The area of study on this subject that is most important for us today is concerning the means to salvation. Under the policy that was administered by Peter and the others of the circumcision [Jews], there was the requirement of repentance [changing their mind and accepting Jesus as their Messiah], submission to water baptism, obedience to the Mosaic Law, and more. It was by those works that they expressed their faith that could ultimately lead them to salvation. On the other hand, today, the gospel for salvation is different. It is NOT the same! For instance, please notice that, as it was with the prophets before their time, the twelve apostles who spent three years with Christ in his earthy ministry had no idea He was going to be crucified and resurrected. This next passage we’ll look at tells us none of these people were believing in the death, burial and resurrection as a basis for their salvation. Let us look at the record of what they knew and didn’t know about all this.

Luke 18:31-34

31 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.

32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:

33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.

34 And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken. [Emphasis added]

Clearly Christ’s work for our salvation was prophesied in the writings of the prophets, but they did not understand their meaning until it was later revealed through the teachings of the Apostle Paul.

Today salvation and one’s justification before God comes by faith alone in Christ’s work, that is, His death, burial and resurrection.

 

All these following passages and more are relevant to our subject regarding the means to our salvation today.

Ephesians 2:8-9

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. [Emphasis added]

I Corinthians 15:1-4

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]

Romans 3:24,28

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. [Emphasis added]

 

Romans 4:4-5

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [Emphasis added]

Whether or not you choose to eat or not eat pork was an issue for the people of Israel, but obviously not nearly as important as where one would spend eternity. Therefore, it is extremely important that you thoroughly investigate this matter and understand what God requires of us for salvation in our time. The answer is readily available, but people need to do their own studying of the Bible and beware of tradition and accepting the norm. The bottom line to all this is that salvation requires works of some kind. Either you must do something for salvation, or you must trust in what God has done to provide it by grace through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. I do hope you will choose the latter. Just remember that this is not something you can afford to be wrong about. How and where you spend eternity depends on it.

 

Share this article:
0
    0
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop

    Contact 4Us/2Us

    Your First Name
    Field is required!
    Field is required!
    Your Last Name
    Field is required!
    Field is required!
    Your E-mail Address
    Field is required!
    Field is required!
    Ask us any questions...
    Field is required!
    Field is required!

    Support Our Ministry

     

    Your gifts will be a part of the means by which this ministry is supported and sustained.

    Our objective is to give people the truth they need by which to gain salvation and to grow spiritually.

    We very much appreciate your part in this great work.

    Donation amount
    Donation frequency

    Don't worry - your information is safe with us!