Works and Salvation

Do works save us? Well, if someone means “works alone,” then no. And if someone has in mind the works of the Law of Moses, then no. The apostle Paul made such quite clear when he wrote: “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ” (Gal. 2:16). Or if someone means the works that men may invent and do, then most certainly, no. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul declared, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”. And also in Titus 3:5 the apostle penned: “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.”

However, if by “works” and salvation someone has in mind the “works of God,” then we better pause and take a closer look at what the Bible reveals on this subject. Surely we must humbly and happily do the works of God as revealed and prescribed in the New Testament.

Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:29).

Paul said: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

James wrote: “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:20, 24, 26).

Concerning baptism into Christ, Paul explained, “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:11-12).

Yes, the “works of God” are directly tied to our salvation. The sinner will not receive salvation if he does not “do” the will of God in heaven (Matt. 7:21; Mark 16:15-16). And the saint will not remain in a saved condition, ultimately receiving a home in heaven, if he is not “careful to maintain good works” (Titus 3:8).

And yet even when we have done our best to walk in the works of God, let us never lose sight of God’s abundant grace and mercy. As Jesus so effectively expressed it: “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do’” (Luke 17:10).