We are not saved by works. Ephesians 2:8-10 “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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” There is no set of good deeds that we could accomplish that would earn us salvation from God. There is no pilgrimage to a holy place that would result in salvation. There is no set of laws that we could follow that would prove ourselves worthy of salvation. There is no amount of money we could pay. The debt that we owe to God is far too great. If we could possibly earn our salvation, we could boast about what we had accomplished. But instead, we cannot boast. We are saved by grace through faith as a gift from God.
The Bible reveals other things that are linked to our salvation. We must repent. Acts 3:19 “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” We must confess that Jesus is Lord. Romans 10:9-10 “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” The Scripture even tells us that baptism saves us. 1 Peter 3:21 “There is also an antitype which now saves us — baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” But none of these things are works that earn us salvation. Salvation is a gift from God.
Does that mean that works are unimportant? Of course not. We have been created for good works. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” We can’t continue in sin so that God’s grace would abound; we should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:1-4 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” James tells us that faith without works is dead. James 2:17 “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
God’s grace should teach us to deny ourselves evil behavior and instead be zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” We should walk in a worthy manner. Colossians 1:10 “That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Philippians 1:27 “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Since we believe, we should maintain good works. Titus 3:8 “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.”
On the other hand, if we don’t do the Father’s will, but practice lawlessness, we will be rejected. Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Practicing evil works proves that we don’t really know God. Titus 1:16 “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” Jesus will take vengeance on those who do not know God. 2 Thessalonians 1:7b-8 “When the 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.” We are branches in Jesus the vine; God takes us away if we don’t bear fruit. Jesus said in John 15:1-2 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
When we do good works, we cannot boast about what we have done. It is God who works in us for His glory. Hebrews 13:20-21 “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” While avoiding evil and doing good works are vital, they do not take away from the truths that we are not saved by works and that salvation is a gift from God.
We should encourage each other to do good works. Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” I encourage you to abound in works because your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”