Salvation By Works?
By Carlton Foster – March 2013
|“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) Human’s actions that are in harmony with the principle. Let’s analyze it with the Eden experience:
Let’s look at the salvation experience:
“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. Jesus verified this with the example of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:8-10, “Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!’ Jesus responded, ‘Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.’”
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 recorded in the Books of Life and make known on the Day of Judgment: “…they were judged every man according to their works.”
To ask ‘can “Works” save you’? Is like asking, can you – a sinful human, establish a “perfect” order for others to follow? The answer is no! This order was ordained by God and given to one person – Jesus. Only his work of a perfect life here on earth can save us with an established perfect life. Now that this order is established, the next phase is our actions. This action is confused as human “works”. It is not the “works” of self-justification to a perfect order as the Devil is trying to confuse us; it is the actions of a perfect order to be perfect just like your heavenly Father is perfect. It is the works of obeying God’s commandments. In so doing, this type of “works” will bring together a justification for the perfect established order. Those who obeyed and followed will live forever, those who don’t will die forever – just as Satan will die forever.
Today, many are riding on the bandwagon of Satan’s deception and are propagating his message: the message is subtle, but at times very convincing. Here is the line:
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 #1, but no one in this entire world follows 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:
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, is he who 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 keeps 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 has 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:
where each letter represent:
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 was no other name given other than Jesus Christ to represent A (Acts 4:12); therefore, B cannot imply C, we need A. Most of the 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.
Paul and the other disciples in trying to convince the Jews, they emphasized the process “A”; Paul did that because they did not accept Jesus. They knew process “B” and are still waiting for process “A”. But Paul was letting them know that process “A” is the works of Jesus. If there were no sinners to redeem, there would be no need for a savior. For the rules of “Free Will” to remains true, God needs the effort of “B”. If not, we would be like robots, and His love (and almighty) would save ALL people (even the disobedient ones). We need a savior and obedient people to have a thing called “Salvation”.
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 before 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 Jesus comes, 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 in 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.”