GOSPEL MESSAGE #3 - IS SALVATION BY GOOD WORKS?

Self-ImprovementSpirituality

  • Author James Rondinone
  • Published May 14, 2023
  • Word count 2,610

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GOSPEL MESSAGE #3

SALVATION BY GOOD WORKS: CAN WE EARN GOD’S FAVOR?

Now, we’re going to take a look at the third gospel message, one that’s probably the most popular, most followed, and which makes the most common sense. Basically, this one asks if we can earn God’s favor by what we do for Him. According to various writings, which many believe to be from Him and conveyed to someone on earth, whether this is just one person or many, it’s believed that they have the roadmap to please Him.

I think if someone could convince most of us that they had writing or writings from God and if we obeyed the dos and don’ts of it, we’d become His child and go to a better place at death, wouldn’t we probably follow what was said. Don’t you agree? So, here’s the question.

Can following a set format of dos and don’ts that probably refer to behaving in a certain way and performing good works cause God to consider us as His sons or daughters and, along with this, have an eternal destiny waiting for us when we die?

I’m sure you’re aware by now that I’m using the King James Bible Scriptures in this study. Those of other faiths (religions) would say this is invalid because the writing or writings from the different books that they ascribe and advocate performing certain good works, which their god encourages them to perform, are different from the good works emphasized in these writings. I agree with them that the writings and the teachings of the King James Bible will differ from their writings because they aren’t from the same source.

However, here’s something that I’d like them to consider. This study is about finding out if there’s a definite salvation message that provides evidence in someone’s life that they’ve indeed become a child of God and will go to a better place at death. By evidence, I mean something tangible that we can’t in and of ourselves produce.

You might want to say, who are you to set the bar? I’d respond to you by saying something like, what other bar is there? If we’re left with a million faiths, each of which has its own system of good works that believes will get its followers to a desirable place, then what we’re essentially saying is there are many ways to get to there. If this is the case, then what else might be implied without us realizing it is that there’s no sure way to know whether any of these avenues will actually work. Will they cause us to become God’s child, other than saying that it’s so? Will they cause us to get to heaven or whatever the divine place is called, other than proclaiming that it’s so?

The first thing I’d like you to consider is the protocols that members of eight different mainstream faiths are asked to follow, which, if they do, they believe would procure favor with whosoever the god is of their faith. Each one will have one grammatical bullet ascribed to it. While there’s a lot more to each faith than what will be indicated, I think what’s provided will allow us to form some conclusion as to what they believe might cause their followers to become a child of God and go to a better place at death.

●Be baptized in water; obey the sacraments, observe certain religious days each year, and commit only small sins.

●Learn the first five books of the Bible, follow the guidelines of the faith, and wait for the coming Messiah.

●Follow the four noble truths and obey the eightfold path to enlightenment.

●Obey the Ten Commandments and follow the teachings of its founder.

●Observe the Five Pillars.

●Observe the 7th day Sabbath and agree with the 28 Fundamental Beliefs.

●Keeping the laws of Jehovah.

●Incorporate certain scientific approaches to help reach one’s fullest potential.

Did you notice what they all have in common? They’re all asked to merit the salvation message. Did you get what I just said? The salvation message or eternal destiny is earned. If this is true, then what this is saying is that all roads (faiths) lead to the same place at death. Is this true?

What do the Scriptures from the King James Bible tell us about the salvation message?

They’ll probably agree with this consensus, right? Are there any Scriptures that support performing good works?

Acts 9:36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and alms deeds which she did.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

1 Timothy 5:10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.

1 Timothy 6:17-18 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

It appears to be that good works are the avenue to become a child of God and have an assurance of eternal life. Right? Is there anything else that Scripture tells us about good works with respect to the salvation message?

Please turn to the book of Ephesians, chapter 2.

Ephesians 2:8-9

8a For by grace are ye saved through faith; …

This Scripture conveys to us that it’s by grace (divine favor; God’s power) that someone is saved (a present possession of salvation; saved and saved forever;131 saved and as a result are in a saved state at the present time132) through faith (God justifies man through the worthiness in whom he believes; someone of heavenly origin takes the proposal of the Word, the salvation message, and illuminates it in the person’s soul and the unbeliever chooses to believe it or not). We’re not only told how an unbeliever is saved, but the rest of the verse tells us how someone isn’t saved.

8b … and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

And that (this salvation which is by grace through faith) has nothing to do with yourselves (it’s not earned; it’s not of human merit; it doesn’t have its source in man133). It’s a gift (without money and without price) of God. This is emphasized again in the next verse.

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

This salvation is Not of works (it doesn’t involve human activity) because if it did, each of us would boast (a thing boasted of, a cause for pride134). This clearly tells us that salvation isn’t based on good works.

Let’s not draw a conclusion based solely on two verses. Are there any other passages that appear to talk about a salvation message, not of good works? There is.

Please go to 2 Timothy 1.

2 Timothy 1:8-9

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

The Apostle Paul was instructing Timothy not to even begin to be ashamed (embarrassed) of the Lord’s testimony (spiritual teaching that has influenced the ideals and practices of society135), nor of Paul himself of being a prisoner for the Lord’s sake, but joining courageously in the hardships of the salvation message according to God’s power which will help him to endure such. And then Paul talked about the fact that God saved both of them by a calling (an effectual call into salvation in which the sinner called, willingly accepts the salvation God offers him136), with a holy calling (with an invitation to a holy life which the one called is expected to live137).

And then he made this astounding statement, that this calling and salvation weren’t according to their own works or earned by anything they have done, but according to God’s own purpose and grace. The idea [is] that our own works have nothing to do [with] inducing God to call us. As, when we BECOME Christians, he does not choose us BECAUSE of our works, so the eternal purpose in regard to our salvation could not have been formed because he foresaw that [we’d] perform such works as would be a reason why he should choose us.138

Based on what we’ve learned, the gospel message of good works won’t cause us to become a child of God and secure for us a provided place that He has for us to reside at death.

We’ve come to another gospel message that’s believed to be a protocol for many faiths to be the avenue for an unbeliever to become a child of God and go to heaven at the conclusion of their life here on earth. Any idea what this message is all about? I won’t tell you. Let’s go to the next chapter and find out.

But before you do, I’ve left an article for us to read. I think you’ll find it interesting. It’s about whether performing good works or being good can get someone into heaven. Enjoy!

THE GOSPEL TRUTH ABOUT HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN

By Jack Zavada

Updated on June 25, 2019

Is Being a Good Person Enough?

One of the most common misconceptions among both Christians and unbelievers is that you can get to heaven just by being a good person. The irony of that misbelief is that it completely ignores the necessity of Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world. What's more, it shows a fundamental lack of understanding of what God considers "good."

How Good Is Good Enough?

The Bible, God;s Inspired Word, has much to say about humanity's so-called "goodness."

"Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Psalm 53:3, NIV)

"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." (Isaiah 64:6, NIV)

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone." (Luke 18:19, NIV)

Goodness, according to most people, is being better than murderers, rapists, drug dealers and robbers. Giving to charity and being polite may be some people's idea of goodness. They recognize their flaws but think, on the whole, they're pretty decent human beings.

God, on the other hand, [isn’t] just good. God is holy. Throughout the Bible, [we’re] reminded of his absolute sinlessness. [He’s] incapable of breaking his laws, the Ten Commandments. In the book of Leviticus, holiness is mentioned 152 times. God's standard to get into heaven, then, [isn’t] goodness, but holiness, complete freedom from sin.

The Inescapable Problem of Sin

Since Adam and Eve and the Fall, every human being has been born with a sinful nature. Our instincts [aren’t] toward goodness but are toward sin. We may think [we’re] good, compared to others, but [we’re] not holy.

If we look at the story of Israel in the Old Testament, we each see a parallel to the endless struggle in our own life: obeying God, disobeying God; clinging to God, rejecting God. Eventually, we all backslide into sin. No one can meet God's standard of holiness to get into heaven.

In Old Testament times, God addressed this problem of sin by commanding the Hebrews to sacrifice animals to atone for their sins:

"For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life." (Leviticus 17:11, NIV)

The sacrificial system involving the desert tabernacle and later the temple in Jerusalem was never meant to be a permanent solution to humanity's sin. All of the Bible points to a Messiah, a coming Savior promised by God to deal with the problem of sin once and for all.

"When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever." (2 Samuel 7:12-13, NIV)

"Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand." (Isaiah 53:10, NIV)

This Messiah, Jesus Christ, was punished for all the sins of humanity. He took the penalty human beings deserved by dying on the cross, and God's requirement for a perfect blood sacrifice was satisfied. God's great plan of salvation is based not on people being good — because they can never be good enough — but on the atoning death of Jesus Christ.

How to Get [to] Heaven God's Way

Because people can never be good enough to get to heaven, God provided a way, through justification, for them to be credited with the righteousness of Jesus Christ:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16, NIV)

Getting to heaven [isn’t] a matter of keeping the [Commandment] because no one can. Neither is it a matter of being ethical, going to church, saying a certain number of prayers, making pilgrimages, or attaining levels of enlightenment. Those things may represent goodness by religious standards, but Jesus reveals what matters to him and his Father:

"In reply Jesus declared, 'I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’” (John 3:3, NIV)

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:6, NIV)

Receiving salvation through Christ is a simple step-by-step process that has nothing to do with works or goodness. Eternal life in heaven comes through God's grace, a gift. It is gained through faith in Jesus, not performance.

The Bible is the final authority on heaven, and its truth is crystal clear:

"That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9, NIV)139

Endnotes

131Weust.

132Weust.

133Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament.

134Dictionary.com.

135Weust.

136Weust.

137Weust.

138Barnes.

139Jack Savada. “THE GOSPEL TRUTH ABOUT HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN.” 23 March 2022

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My name is James Rondinone. I am a husband, father, and spiritual leader.

I grew up in Massachusetts and began my own spiritual journey early on in life.

I attended Bible college, having completed a two-year Christian Leadership Course of Study and graduated as valedictorian (Summa Cum Laude).

Studying and teaching the Word of God has been a passion of mine for over 20 years.

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