Salvation

 

 

Salvation is obtained by faith plus good works

 

 

 

Many people who claim to be Christians believe that a man is saved not only by faith but by faith plus good works. In other words, they believe that salvation is obtained by good works or personal merits, for that’s the true meaning of their statement ‘not by faith alone.’ Here is a series of statements against the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone, made by different people.

Jehovah’s Witnesses: ‘Some suggest that belief in Jesus is the end of the matter …. However, to concentrate on only one essential requirement of salvation to the exclusion of the others is like reading one crucial clause in a contract and ignoring the rest …. Yes, there are various things involved in getting saved. We must take in accurate knowledge of God’s purposes and his way of salvation. Then we must exercise faith in the Chief Agent of salvation, Jesus Christ, and do God’s will the rest of our lives (‘What We Must Do to Be saved’, The Watchtower, September 15, 1993, 5-7). Among the good works, Jehovah’s Witnesses attach much importance to witnessing and distributing literature. That’s the real core of the way of salvation for Jehovah’s Witnesses. By going from house to house, Jehovah’s Witnesses hope to be saved at Armageddon! I would like to underline the verb ‘hope’ because as a matter of fact they are not sure at all that they will be saved at Armageddon in spite of all their efforts. Every time I have asked a Jehovah’s Witness whether he is saved or not, the answer has been always the same: ‘I hope to be saved, I am not sure, I don’t dare to affirm that I am saved because I don’t want to be presumptuous!’ As I have said, they hope to be saved at Armageddon because Armageddon will be God’s decisive (though not final) battle against His enemies, both demonic and human, and since they believe that only those who are members of their organization will survive Armageddon and no one who dies at Armageddon will be raised from the dead during the Millennium, they make all their efforts to hope to survive Armageddon and they preach to other people to join their organization in order not to be forever annihilated in the battle of Armageddon. However, I say it again, they themselves are not sure they will survive Armageddon. To know much better the doctrine of salvation taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses read ‘the way of salvation according to Jehovah’s Witnesses’

Mormons: ‘We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel’ (Articles 3 of the Articles of Faith). Now, that you may understand the meaning of this statement I cite some words written in one official Mormon publication titled What The Mormons Think of Christ by B. R. McConkie: ‘…. All men, by the grace of God, have the power to gain eternal life. This is called salvation by grace coupled with obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. Hence Nephi was led to write: ‘We labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know it is by grace that we are saved after all we can do’. Christian speaks often of the blood of Christ and its cleansing power. Much that is believed and taught on this subject, however, is such utter nonsense and so palpably false that to believe it is to lose one’s salvation. Many go so far, for instance, as to pretend and at least, to believe that if we confess Christ with our lips and avow that we accept Him as our personal Saviour, we are thereby saved. His blood, without other act then mere belief, they say, makes us clean …. Finally in our day, he has said plainly: ‘My blood shall not cleanse them if they hear me not’ …. Salvation in the kingdom of God is available because of the atoning blood of Christ. But it is received only on condition of faith, repentance, baptism, and enduring to the end in keeping the commandments of God’ (pages 27-33). In other words, salvation from personal sins can only be obtained through the obedience to the requirements of the gospel and a life of good works. They affirm that since the transgression of Adam is infinite in its consequences, those consequences cannot be averted, except through an infinite atonement (cf. James E. Talmage, A Study of the Articles of Faith, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, 42nd edition, 1968, page 479). The doctrine of justification by faith alone is rejected by them for they call it ‘pernicious doctrine’ (Ibid., page 480). To know better the Mormon doctrine about salvation read ‘the way of salvation according to Mormons.’

The followers of Herbert Armstrong affirm: ‘But how the god of this world would blind your eyes to that! He tries to deceive you into thinking all there is to it is just ‘accepting Christ’ with ‘no works’ – and presto-chango, you are pronounced ‘Saved’. But the Bible reveals that none is yet ‘saved’ (Why Were You Born?, page 11), ‘People have been taught, falsely, that ‘Christ completed the plan of salvation on the Cross’ – when actually it was only begun there. The popular denominations have taught, ‘Just believe – that’s all there is to it; believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you are that instant saved!’ That teaching is false! And because of deception – because the true Gospel of Jesus Christ has been blotted out, lo these 1900 years by the preaching of a false gospel about the person of Christ – and often a false Christ at that – millions today worship Christ – and all in vain! The blood of Christ does not finally save any man. The death of Christ merely paid the penalty of sin in our stead – it wipes the slate clean of past sins – it saves us merely from the death penalty – it removes that which separated us from God and reconciles us to God. But we are saved – that is, given immortal life – by Christ’s life, not by His death (Romans 5:10). It is only those who, during this Christian, Spirit-begotten life, have grown in knowledge and grace, have overcome, have developed spiritually, done the works of Christ, and endured unto the end, who shall finally be given immortality – finally changed from mortal to immortal at the time of the Second Coming of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:53,54). So, being, as we say, converted – receiving the Holy Spirit of God – is merely the beginning! Then begins a lifelong of living under the government of God – by God’s laws which express His will, instead of by self-will and desire. A Person is not even begotten of God unless he is Christ’s (1 John 5:12) and He is not Christ’s unless He has received the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9). One is not even converted – spiritually begotten – not even started on the way to final salvation, unless and until he receives the Holy Spirit from God!. No, water baptism is a required condition to receiving the Holy Spirit. But there is no promise that anyone will receive the Holy Spirit until baptized in water’ (All About Water Baptism, 1,2,3,8); ‘…. God only has eternal life. Life can come only from life – not from death. Christ’s death paid the penalty of your guilty past – it reconciled you to God – gave you access direct to God. But it did not give you eternal life – did not, yet, save you! Now what? Some religious teachers tell you Christ lived a righteous life for you 1930 years ago, and since you ‘can’t keep the Law’, as they claim, God ‘imputes’ Christ’s righteousness of 19 centuries ago to you – by sort of ‘kidding himself’ that you are righteous, while you are given license to still be a spiritual criminal breaking His law. God does not impute to you something you do not have’ (What Do You Mean …. Salvation?, pages 18,21). Read what Herbert Armstrong taught about the New Birth and read also my confutation.

Christadelphians: ‘What else is necessary for salvation besides faith? ‘Works’ – that is obedience to God’s commands as taught by Jesus’ (The Christadelphian Instructor, page 39); ‘Belief, baptism, and obedience (in that order) are the essential steps to salvation, page 2).

The Unification Church: ‘Many Christians believe that simply to have faith means they will be saved. Faith alone is not enough’ (Leaders’ Speech [Questions and Answers] at Rowlane Farmhouse in England, March 16, 1972, page 13)

Catholics also teach that salvation is by faith plus good works. However, their doctrine on salvation is quite complex and very different from the above mentioned ones, so I have decided to refute it separately.

 

 

Confutation

 

The Scripture teaches that Christ died on the cross for our sins and rose again for our justification (cf. Romans 4:25). Therefore, a man, in order to be saved from his sins and reconciled to God, must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul and Silas said to the keeper of the prison at Philippi: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31 – NKJV) and Paul wrote to the saints in Rome: “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. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame’. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Romans 10:9-13 - NKJV). Therefore, salvation, according to the Word of God, is by grace. One is saved by faith alone, and not by faith plus works. If salvation were by faith plus works, grace would be no longer grace, for it would be set aside.

Brothers, know this, that we, who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, have been saved from our sins, as it is written: “When the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4-5 – NKJV); we have been justified and reconciled to God, as it is written: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 – NKJV) and: “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (Colossians 1:21-22 – NKJV); we have been forgiven, for it is written that “in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7 – NKJV); we have been begotten by God and made His children as it is written: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13 – NKJV); we have eternal life, as it is written: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life ….” (1 John 5:11-13 – NKJV).

Let me conclude by saying the following things: the Scripture clearly states that “the just shall live by faith” (Hebrews 10:38 – NKJV) and not by faith plus works, and that “by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Galatians 2:16 – NKJV), and also that all those who rely upon the works of the law are under the curse of the law, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them” (Galatians 3:10 – NKJV). Therefore, I exhort you to beware of all those who teach that in order to be saved you must keep the law (tithing, Sabbath, Jewish feasts, etc.), for they lie against the truth and want to deceive you. Christ accomplished a perfect work through His death and His resurrection, and consequently His work does not need to be completed by anyone nor by any human work, and you are already saved by your faith in what He has accomplished. So, beloved, continue to have full confidence in what He did for you. Let no one deceive you with empty words.

 

 

 

 

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