First off before you read on it should be made clear that salvation is by faith alone... at least in the sense that nothing you do can earn you salvation, moreover there is no possible way for you to even aid in your salvation. Salvation is of grace, because of the redemptive work of Christ according to the will of the Father, and obtained because of the conviction and empowering from the Holy Spirit. Of course we can turn to Ephesians 2 and see with utter clarity that we are saved be grace through faith and that not of ourselves it is the gift of God. The reason I make this clear at the outset is that the remainder of this post may be misunderstood as a case for works based salvation. It is not! I repeat it is not! At the same time balance needs to be restored to our theology, this line has been drawn, between the spiritual and practical, the secular and sacred, and that line should not exist. People speak about right standing with God without speaking about right living towards God, or vice versa. Both the fundamentalists (I speak of dead fundamentalism) and the postmodern libs have drawn a line between sacred and practical and have chosen to stand on opposite sides of this line that never should have been drawn. The post modern liberal looks constantly at social justice and working for Christ in this world without spending time on the spiritual reality behind the cross, or the magnitude of what had to occur to put people in right standing with God. At the same time the dead fundamentalist uses all their intellect to hammer out a strong logical theology without ever “examining themselves to see if they are in the faith...” So let’s look at some verses (note that my comments following each verse should be true to the context of the verse, not the verse by itself, I am open to correction):
And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. (Luke 9:23 NASB)
Is taking up your cross and following a work? The plain reading of this verse indicates that taking up the cross is a requirement for salvation, unless you come up with a class of Christians that do not follow Christ, or some other wrangling.
"So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. (Luke 14:33 NASB)
Is selling of your possessions a work? The plain reading of this verse indicates that giving up all possessions is a requirement for salvation, unless you come up with a class of Christians who are not disciples, or something odd like that.
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2 NASB)
Is holding fast a work? What if you do not hold fast, the plain reading of this passage would indicate that holding fast to the faith is a requirement for salvation, unless you come up with a class of Christians that hold fast, and an entirely different class that does not.
"I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3 NASB)
Is repentance a work? This verse is in the context of tragedy, and people questioning the will of with regard to tragedy, nonetheless the clear teaching of Luke 13 is that repentance is a requirement for salvation, unless you come up with a class of repentance Christians, and a class of non-repentant Christians.
We could list hundreds of examples in scriptures where there is an apparent work commanded that must be enacted in order for a person to be saved. The classic verses from James concerning faith and works could be pointed out... Jesus’ admonitions throughout scriptures seem to point to a requirement for works in order to be saved. I would even venture so far as to say that Jesus commands us to take up our cross... means exactly that... WE are to take it up, it does not mean ask Him to take up our cross for us WE have a part in this.
So have I lost balance in this post, do I advocate a salvation based on works! Absolutely not, at least not a salvation based on our works, performed under our power. At the same time if you begin to look at all the commands to ‘work’ in the scripture, and you look at the honestly before explaining them away with some theological formula you will be drawn to ask the very question that could save your soul and put your sanctification on the fast track (I am not speaking of sinless perfection.) The question you could ask is this: “Then who can be saved?” (Matthew 10:26) To which Jesus responds "With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God." (Matthew 10:27)
So what is the point? The point is this, God performs the work, but it is performed in you and through you, both in your inner man, and your outward actions. None of these works are your performance... yet they are required for salvation and performed in you and through you by God. So are works required for salvation? Of course they are... but they are not your works that save you, but by grace God performs works in you and through, for by grace you are saved through faith, not of works it is the gift of God.
I guess what I am trying to explain is that there is a very practical side of salvation that is tangible and plays itself out in every believers life. Works are the manifestation of God dwelling in, and working through a believers life.
I would say that you can find plenty of men who have proper balance right here on SA. See Paul Washer and John Piper, or John MacArthur all Calvinist, or Leonard Ravenhill, A.W. Tozer, or Paris Reidhead all Arminian. Sorry if this who posting was a ramble, but if the Spiritual and the practical coincide in the true believers life.