And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead who were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:12-15).
What is Salvation by Works? In Ephesians 2:8-9, the Bible said “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” By the “grace” of God you are saved. Period! Before we explain Rev 20:12-15, let us take a step back and analyze why we need to be saved.
This issue started in the Garden of Eden when Adam, the representative of the human race sinned and turned from God; we were turned to Satan. A law was violated and justification was realized because of our actions. In order for us to turn to Jesus, a principle has to be done so that our actions can fulfill the law for justification to be realized. So, the principle is a human have to live a perfect life, and anyone who aligns, or gives allegiance (by our actions) to this perfect human will be “turned” to him. Jesus was born as a human, lived a perfect life and died and raised again; now the principle is established, the next step to the process is to believe in Jesus and we are saved, or turned from Satan, and turned to Jesus.
The process has two steps: 1) Principle established, 2) Humans action in accordance to the principle. Let’s analyze it with the Eden experience:
1) Principle – Satan established an order contrary to God. 2) Actions – Adam and Eve acted according to this contrary established order. 3) Result – Adam, Eve, and their generations now belong to Satan.
Let’s look at the salvation experience:
1) Principle – Jesus established and lived a perfect life. 2) Actions – Humans acted according to the established “perfect” order. 3) Result – Humans (those who acted) now belong to Jesus.
“For by grace you are saved,” means that now you have an established “perfect” order by the grace and love of God that we can take some actions towards.
Our sinful “works” cannot establish that “perfect” order, this can only be done by Jesus. The Bible said in Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Other than Jesus. He established that perfect order. Then Jesus said to us as recorded in Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Perfect means that we must be Godly, doing always what is right, which also means if we sinned, we must repent and continue to live a perfect life. This is the commandment given to us by God for us to realize the second phase of the process, which is to follow the perfect order established by Jesus, and the result will be record in the Books of Life and make known on the Day of Judgment: “…they were judged every man according to their works.”
Today, many are riding on the bandwagon of Satan’s deception and are propagating his message: the message is subtle, but at time convincing. Here is the line.
a) Salvation is free! You don’t have to do anything. It is free; it is a gift from Jesus Christ.
This message is partly true, but this will keep you from doing your part. Notice, this message only points to the truth of process number one. That is, Jesus established a perfect order for us to follow. But it hides the fact of process number two, which is the action on our part to follow Jesus and do as he commands. Just imagine if Jesus established principle number one, but no one in this entire world follow him; no action, would the result of life everlasting be given to us? If Satan had established his order in Eden, and Adam and Eve did not follow him, would we be in this predicament? Therefore, the “You don’t have to do anything” message is a subtle lie to annul the plan of salvation. Do as the Bible suggested in Philippians 2:12 “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Now, since Satan’s message has flaws, he and his deceivers moved to the next subtle one, and it is this:
b) Salvation is free! All you have to do is believe in Jesus Christ. You only need to believe, and you will be saved.
This message again is partly true, but it only points to the first principle. To believe and do nothing about your belief is a false message. The Bible recorded in James 2:19 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” So if the devils also believe, does that mean that they are saved? Believing alone will not bring forth the result of the salvation plan.
Those who preached subtle lies are deceiving those who want to follow Jesus. If you read the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, the message is consistent: Obey God and follow His commandments. In John 14:21, the Bible said “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” And again in.1 John 2:4 the Bible reads “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” Following the commandments of God is a very important part of the plan of salvation. It is recorded in Revelation 12:17 that the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” The devil only makes war with those who obediently follow Jesus. Those who don’t, he have them in his control.
There are two processes to Salvation: 1) Jesus’ Redemptive Power, and 2) Our Obedience to God. The mathematical formula and logic for Salvation would look like this: A + B => C
Now, if there was no B (no sinner), there would be no need for an A (savior) , so then, Not B, Not C. Also because there were no other name given other than Jesus Christ to represent A (Acts 4:12); therefore, B cannot imply C, we need A. Most time when the Bible is referring to the process of salvation, such as “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.” The Bible is referring to the process in “A”, and showing that if there is no A, there is no C. The statement is still true: B cannot produce C.
Before the final reward is given, it must be decided who are fitted to share the inheritance of the righteous. This decision must be made prior to the second coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven; for when He comes, His reward is with Him, “to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12. Before His coming, then, the character of every man’s work will have been determined, and to every one of Christ’s followers the reward will have been apportioned according to his deeds. – (COL 310.1 – Ellen G. White)
In summary, salvation by faith and salvation by works are joint processes in the plan of salvation for humans who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. They are not afraid of the devil’s ploy that uses these terms to confuse us. We are certain of Jesus message and the plan of God for our lives. It is just as John saw it: “…And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead who were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.”