Are We Saved By Works?Written by Stephen Kingery
The subject of works is one which seems to cause some confusion among Christians. There are those who say that we are saved by faith, not by works. The Scriptures seem to affirm this, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8,9) Then there are those who proclaim that even though we are saved by faith, works have a part to play as well. Again, Scriptures seem to affirm this, "Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." (James 2:17)
Do Scriptures oppose themselves? How can this be that we are saved by faith only, yet have works play a part in it? Are both groups right? Do these Scriptures prove that it is all in how you look at it? Well, first Scriptures do not oppose themselves. And also, this subject is not hard to understand. Let's examine this subject of works, faith, and salvation and see how it all fits perfectly together.
During time that apostles were on earth teaching and establishing churches throughout world there begun to arise those who wanted to put additional qualifications on being saved. We know by studying Scriptures that there is a simple plan which we are to follow in order to accept free gift of salvation. That plan consist of (1) faith, (2) repentance, (3) confession, (4) baptism, and (5) faithful living. (See our monograph "What Must I Do To Be Saved?) This group began to teach that in order for one to be saved -- to be a Christian -- he/she must first obey "works of law." In other words, one must first become a Jew, then become a Christian. Even apostle Peter began to behave in a manner which indicated to Gentiles, that one must obey law of Moses first. In Galatians chapter 2 Paul writes of time when Peter would associate with Gentiles as long as no other Jewish Christians were around. Then when his fellow Jewish Christians were present, he behaved in a different manner, perhaps giving message that in order to be a "real" Christian, one would first obey Jewish laws. Paul then rebukes Peter for this behavior and states to him, "We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by works of law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of law; for by works of law no flesh shall be justified." (Galatians 2:15,16)
In other words, man can only be justified (vindicated) by faith (and those things which faith produces) in Jesus Christ. The law of Moses can not vindicate us from our sins. The "law" can only make us aware of fact that we are sinners. Therefore, when Bible says that we are justified by faith, and not works, it means we are vindicated by faith (and those things which faith produces) and not by our striving to obey law.
This concept that we are justified by faith is found in several passages in Bible. "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of Works? No, but by law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from deeds of law." (Romans 3:27,28) See also Galatians 3:1-5, Romans 4:1-6, & Romans 5:1,2.
So what about those other Scriptures which indicate that works do have a part to play in man's salvation. In order to better understand how this relationship exists, let's look a James, chapter 2: "But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even demons believe; and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' And he was called friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." (James 2:18-24) You are probably saying, "How can this be? Now I'm more confused than ever." Let's try to sort this out.
First, above passage is not discussing issue of salvation, but rather relationship between works (the way we conduct ourselves) and faith. Works, regardless of how we want to phrase it, can not and will not result in our salvation. We simply do not have ability or opportunity to work our way to heaven. We could spend rest of our days doing "good works" and it would not save our souls. Salvation is apart from works!
So, what relationship does works have to salvation and faith? How can we be justified by works? Let's examine few verses which precede above passage. "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to him, 'Depart in pease, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give him things which are needed for body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." (James 2:14-17) Works -- good deeds which help our fellow Christians, spreading gospel, etc. -- is what proves that our faith is alive and real. If we were to say, "I believe that Jesus is Son of God," we would call that faith which can lead to salvation. But proof of that faith, is not that we say we believe, but that we do those things which further kingdom. Works are result of saving faith. We are justified by our works, in that our works prove our faith to be real, alive saving faith; not just intellectual assent that God and His Son exist.
The Second Coming of JesusWritten by Michael Bradley
In this first verse, God says He will allow all nations of world to come against Jerusalem. This verse tells us that Jerusalem will be taken, houses will be "rifled," and women ravished. Half of city will actually go into captivity, but one third remnant will not be killed during this takeover. Remember, two thirds of Jewish people will be killed, one third will not.
Itís right at this point that Jesus will come forth to fight for His people and put an end to all bloodshed. His feet will land on Mount of Olives. Here is verse!
"Behold, day of Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all nations to battle against Jerusalem; city shall be taken, houses rifled, and women ravished. Half of city shall go into captivity, but remnant of people shall not be cut off from city. 2. Notice very graphic description of what God is going to do to Israelís enemies. This will be wrath of God in full manifestation. Now watch what happens in next verse. God calls out to birds in air and will allow these birds to feed off flesh of army that He has just destroyed. The last part of this verse will tell you what He will do with Antichrist and False Prophet.
Then Lord will go forth and fight against these nations, as He fights in day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on east. And Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of mountain shall move toward north and half of it toward south. Then you shall flee through My mountain valley ... Thus Lord my God will come, and all saints with you ... and Lord shall be King over all earth ... people dwell in it; and no longer shall there be utter destruction, but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.
And this shall be plague with which Lord will strike all people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths." (Zechariah 4:1-12)
"Then I saw an angel standing in sun; and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all birds in midst of heaven, "Come and gather together for supper of great God, that you may eat flesh of kings, flesh of captains, flesh of mighty men, flesh of horses and those who sit on them, and flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great." 3. Now what happens to Satan, Dragon who orchestrated all events of Great Tribulation? Here is what Jesus does with him.
And I saw beast, kings of earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on horse and against His army. Then beast was captured, and with him false prophet, who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received mark of beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast into lake of fire burning with brimstone, and rest were killed with sword which proceeded from mouth of Him who sat on horse. And all birds were filled with their flesh." (Revelations 19:17-21)
"Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having key to bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of dragon, that serpent of old, who is Devil and Satan, and bound him up for one thousand years; and he cast him onto bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive nations no more till one thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a season." (Revelations 20:1-3) As you will see a little further down, God will let Satan loose for a "season" at end of 1000 Millennium to set up one more battle before we finally get new heaven and new earth.
4. Here is another verse that shows Jesus will come back immediately after Great Tribulation has run its course.
"IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE TRIBULATION OF THOSE DAYS, sun will be darkened, and moon will not give its light; stars will fall from heaven, and powers of heaven will be shaken. Here is another verse on Jesus' 2nd coming and Him taking vengeance on wicked.
THEN THE SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN WILL APPEAR IN HEAVEN, AND ALL THE TRIBES OF THE EARTH WILL MOURN, AND THEY WILL SEE THE SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN WITH POWER AND GREAT GLORY. And He will send His Angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from four winds, from one end of heaven to other." (Matthew 24:29-31)
"Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when LORD JESUS IS REVEALED FROM HEAVEN WITH HIS MIGHTY ANGELS, IN FLAMING FIRE TAKING VENGEANCE ON THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW GOD, AND ON THOSE WHO DO NOT OBEY THE GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. THESE SHALL BE PUNISHED WITH EVERLASTING DESTRUCTION FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD AND FROM THE GLORY OF HIS POWER, WHEN HE COMES IN THAT DAY, TO BE GLORIFIED IN HIS SAINTS AND TO BE ADMIRED AMONG ALL THOSE WHO BELIEVE, BECAUSE OUR TESTIMONY AMONG YOU WAS BELIEVED." (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9) 5. Now here is verse that says that Jesus will be setting up a Millennium Kingdom where He will rule this entire earth from city of Jerusalem.
"And I saw saints of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for word of God, who had not worshiped beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. AND THEY LIVED AND REIGNED WITH CHRIST FOR A THOUSAND YEARS." (Revelations 20:4) 6. Now what happens after 1000 years are up? Two events will occur. Satan is let loose for a "season" to try and set up one last battle. God then finally throws him in Lake of Fire where He had just thrown Antichrist and False Prophet 1000 years earlier. And we then get a new heaven and a new earth. Here are two verses.
"Now when one thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive nations which are in four corners of earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle ... They went up on breadth of earth and surrounded camp of saints and it's beloved city. And fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And devil, who deceived them, was cast into lake of fire and brimstone where beast and false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." (Revelations 20:7) Notice in above verse that Satan once more surrounds what would appear to be Jerusalem. But this time it appears that God will stop him in his tracks before he can even attack Godís people. He is then thrown into Lake of Fire and that will be last that we will ever hear from this blasphemous creature ever again!!