Salvation

 

 

17. Now you say that a man is saved by faith and not by works, but you say also that there is a reward or recompense which God will give to us according to the good works we have done. Things are not clear to me, could you explain them to me?

 

 

Now, sister in the Lord, listen. When I say that a man is saved only by his faith, apart from the law, I mean that since man has sinned and is an enemy of God, in order to obtain remission of sins and eternal life, he must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died for our sins and was raised from the dead for our justification. There is no other way by which a sinner can receive the remission of his sins and eternal life. He can do all kinds of good works, sacrifices, and bodily mortifications, but whatever he does will be useless because his sins will continue to remain on his conscience and to make him feel a sinner before God, and he will continue to doubt about his salvation (that is, he will continue to say to himself, ‘I have done all kinds of good works, yet I am not sure I have eternal life, why?’). The reason why his sins will continue to remain on his conscience and he will continue not to have the assurance he has eternal life is that sins can be blotted out from one’s conscience and eternal life can be received only by faith in Jesus Christ. Many former Roman Catholic priests and also many former Roman Catholics who were not priests, after they repented of their sins and believed with their heart in Jesus Christ, have testified that even though they had made many good works and all kinds of sacrifices for the sake of their neighbour but also in order to atone for their sins, that is, to force God to remit their sins in exchange for their good works, and to deserve or to gain eternal life, they continued to feel that their sins were still with them and that they were lost, that they had not the assurance that after death they would go to heaven! This confirms that it is impossible to obtain remission of sins and eternal life by good works.

However, when he repents and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, his sins are forgiven by God, and he receives eternal life. Things radically change because he humbles himself before God and God has mercy on him. At this point a new life starts for him, a life which must be full of good works because Christ saved us so that we might be zealous for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Titus 2:14: Ephesians 2:10). Good works help to confirm a believer in the faith, and through them the name of God is glorified in him. They are necessary, they indicate that there is a living faith in the believer. On the contrary, their absence indicates that his faith is a dead faith, for James says that as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also (James 2:26). The good works which we do in Christ Jesus have a reward, that is, in that day God will reward us for our good works, according to His righteousness and faithfulness (2 Corinthians 5:10 and Luke 14:14),

However, pay attention to this: the reward that God will give to us is not eternal life because the Scripture states that eternal life is the gift of God in Christ Jesus, which is obtained by faith (Romans 6:23 and John 3:16, 36), freely, and not because one deserves to receive it from God. You may ask me then, ‘What will this reward, which obviously will be different for each one of us, consist of? To this question I cannot give an answer, because the Scripture does not say what this reward will be. However, we know for sure that “each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor” (1 Corinthians 3:8 – NKJV), and that this reward will be a righteous reward because it will be given to us by the One who is a righteous judge, who searches the minds and hearts and who knows not only our good works but also the reasons that prompted us to do them. Therefore the reward that God will give to us is the reward we have deserved (in this case we can speak of personal merits) through our labours we have done in and for the Lord. And I want to make it clear that this reward still remains something we will be able to receive by the mercy of the Lord because God enables us to do good works. Without the Lord we can do nothing (John 15:5); He is the One who works in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Therefore all the things we can do for the sake of His name can be done through His grace which is with us.

To God be the glory now and forevermore. Amen.

 

 

 

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