Works Salvation #2

In the previous post I laid out a case for works based salvation making it clear that salvation is based on works performed by God, and not by the believer. The whole point of that post and this one is to make very clear the point that true belief results in practical application. Again, let’s reiterate, Salvation is by faith alone, in Christ alone! This is critical to understand, in fact if you believe you have some role in your salvation by performing works, or making decisions, or whatever I would like to kindly say you are wrong. Salvation is entirely the work of God, which is the stance of historical Christianity across the theological spectrum. Both Wesley and Whitefield taught this. Both CS Lewis and Charles Spurgeon taught this. This is not an Arminian v Calvinism debate.

You are saved by the work of Jesus Christ upon the cross, and your salvation from sin and the penalties thereof always result in the working of Christ within you... practically. You say you have faith without works... I will show you my faith by my works. James clears the air very well on this, as does Jesus. “You will know them by their fruit...” Moreover, if you read the entire sermon on the mount, Matthew 5-7 you will find it concludes with teaching concerning whether or a man or woman is saved. You know the verses “many will say to me on that day Lord Lord did we not... and I will say unto them depart from me...” Then the entire message of Matthew 5-7 concludes with this.

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. "And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. "The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall." (Matthew 7:24-27 NASB)

This verse is crystal clear, if you let it be. If you take off your preconceived notions about the role of works in salvation and just read the verse for what it says. First notice “these words of mine” Jesus is referring to the Sermon on the Mount in its entirety, and what is His conclusion? Those who act on these words will not be destroyed in the Day of Judgment. If you look at the preceding verses it is clear the rains and the floods are reference to the coming judgment. It is also clear that those who do not act upon His teachings will not withstand the judgment, their house will fall, and “great was its fall.” So if you take Matthew 7:24-27 as speaking about more than just right living, but speaking specifically about salvation (which is the proper interpretation of those verses) than you must say that salvation in some sense is dependent upon acting upon “these words of Mine.”

So, does a person’s actions with regard to the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount have a bearing on their salvation? Read it... and you will have to say, absolutely. (I am speaking of the teachings, knowing full well that a person does not have to read the Sermon on the Mount to be saved, but even without reading obedience to its commands should be evident.) So can the case be made the obedience is required for salvation? Absolutely! Is obedience to the commands of God a work? How could it not be? Of course it is! So are works a requirement for salvation? I know we are on dangerous ground here, and a misstep could lead us into heresy, but we must say that in some sense works are required for salvation.

Jesus teaches that faith and works are inseparable. Again, you will know them by their fruit. True works are always the result of faith, true faith always results in works. So if faith and works are inseparable, and faith is a gift given by the grace of God (which we know it is) then works as well are the gift of God. Are works required for salvation? Yes, but the ability to perform them, the desire to perform them, the means to perform them, and even the will to perform them are all given to the believer by God. A believer has no place to claim good works as their own, at the same time good works will be performed by every true believer without exception. They are required for salvation, but that requirement is met by Christ working in the believer, not the believer working for Christ.

Salvation is entirely of grace, the performance of works is entirely of grace. Everything good that could ever come out of a redeemed human is only the living water flowing from the Christ which dwells in them. At the same time, if there is no works, it is clear there is no salvation.

It is interesting to see how dead fundamentalists will take this and label it heresy. I see a number of them online calling Washer a heretic on this. Moreover, a number of dead fundis will also label Wesley a heretic, just like the Church of England did. Many men have taught that salvation results in tangible change only to be met by men who were afraid to examine themselves and preferred to just attack the preacher.

Just a closing note on this, fundamentalism is good and important. I often speak of a dead fundamentalism which permeates the internet community and wastes all its time condemning calvinsts or arminians or anyone else who disagrees with them. Blogging, and posting in forums takes no spiritual fortitude, it is the work of dead fundamentalists that listen to millions of sermons, read millions of blogs... and yet haven’t even figured out that they should love their wife, or serve their congregation, or God forbid spend some time in prayer and be open to the moving of God upon themselves. The dead fundamentalist is the one who knows all the doctrines of salvation yet remain unsaved.

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