GOSPEL MESSAGE #5 - IS SALVATION BY REPENTANCE, BELIEF, AND GODLY WORKS?

Self-ImprovementSpirituality

  • Author James Rondinone
  • Published June 1, 2023
  • Word count 3,589

18

SALVATION BY REPENTANCE, BELIEF, AND GODLY WORKS: IS SALVATION CONDITIONAL?

We’ve actually talked about this gospel to a certain degree earlier in this study, back in chapter 13, when we investigated whether good works substantiate salvation according to the gospel of faith and repentance. And we concluded that it doesn’t. However, there are some churches that include the performance of good works as an integral part of salvation. That’s why I call this gospel “salvation by conditions.”

When I was younger, I attended a school that taught its students how to run computer systems. This was way back in the seventies. After completing the courses of study, I was hired by a company to provide computer competence in the area of accounts receivable. However, I was conditionally hired. If I showed competence over a specified period of time, then I’d be retained.

This is the way I’d describe this gospel. If an unbeliever repents and believes, then they’re kind of saved. Over time, if they consistently evidence good works, then they’ll be officially saved. I guess we might ask, scripturally how does someone come up with a view such as this? Let’s take a look at some of the Scriptures that are used to support this perspective.

We’ll begin by going to the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 5:9

And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

What this is telling us is that at a certain time Jesus was made perfect. The word perfect means that he reached the goal of His spiritual journey, i.e., he finished his course of tremendous [sufferings] and consummated the whole by his death and resurrection.148Because of such, He became the author (source) of eternal salvation (to be saved forever) unto all them that obey him. This begs the question, what does the word obey mean? The proponents of this gospel would say that it means to do what he tells them to do.149

In this sense, eternal salvation is conditional. This would be translated by leadership as saying that it also means to do what they tell the congregation to do. This might include tithing, prayer meetings, church dinners, Bible studies, special functions, etc. I’m not saying that a believer shouldn’t be involved in any of these activities but remember these are used as measuring sticks for keeping one’s salvation.

This perception might be further supported by the verse that we’ll take a look at next which is also from the book of Hebrew chapter 13. Let’s go there.

Hebrews 13:17

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Believers are instructed to Obey (follow and obey; comply) them, i.e., the leaders of the Christian churches. Obey what? Whatever they ask the believers to do.

This begs the question. Is there another way to interpret these verses? Let’s begin by taking another look at Hebrews 5:9.

And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

In order to be saved eternally, an unbeliever has to obey something. Obey what? What does Scripture convey to us that causes someone to be saved?

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

It’s the gospel of Christ. So, in this sense, the word obey is the same as "to trust God," as "them that obey Him" is a description of those [who’ve] put their faith in Jesus Christ.150 Those are the ones who have a salvation that never ends. You might ask, are there other Scriptures that confirms this rendering? Yes, there are. Turn in your Bible to the book of 2 Thessalonians.

2 Thessalonians 1:4, 7-8 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

The Apostle Paul is holding up the Thessalonians as an example to the churches of God for their patience (perseverance) and faith (confidence in God) in all their persecutions from both unbelieving Gentiles and Jews and tribulations (trials) that they’re enduring. He goes on to tell them that it’s agreeable to justice that God pay back trouble to those who troubled them. They were encouraged to rest in the divine retribution, which will occur when Jesus returns from heaven with his angels at the close of the present age, inflicting punishment on those people who know not God. And who are those that know not God?

It’s those who obey not the gospel. As Calvin’s Commentaries puts it, if obedience [isn’t] rendered to the gospel through faith, … unbelief is the occasion of resistance to it.151 Therefore, the gospel of Christ isn’t effectual through performing good works. Now let’s take a look at the other verse from the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 13:17

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Believers are told to Obey the leaders of the Christian church. The word Obey means to obey their teachings. What kind of teachings? The teachings that watch for your souls. The word watch means to take care of or to promote. The word souls mean salvation. Putting these meanings together, we could say that to watch for your souls means to promote the salvation of the people.152 What should follow a believer’s salvation? Let’s turn to 1 Thessalonians and find out.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;

What promotes or follows salvation is sanctification. This word refers to a process that depends on God. Its learning how to overcome the propensities to evil in our [nature] and checking and subduing the unholy habits which [we’d] formed before we became Christians.153 We’re told that very believer should learn how to possess (exercise self-control) his vessel (body; sexual desires) in sanctification (holiness) and honour (honorable behavior). Another way of saying this is that the believer needs to think differently about themselves by appropriating and applying God’s Word, which is God’s medicine for every area of human weakness or strength.

When we do this, the Holy Spirit provides us with His guidance, promptings, and power. The result is that we’ll have the proper motivation operating within that impels us to perform godly works, whatever that may be. This isn’t forced on us to keep our salvation. Goods works doesn’t become the evidence of salvation but rather of godliness.

With that said, we’ve learned that salvation isn’t conditional by performing good works. Salvation or being saved is eternally based on an unbeliever’s response to the gospel of Christ. Therefore, we can conclude that only the components of repentance and faith will cause an unbeliever to become saved. However, if the inclusion of good works remains as imperative for a believer’s salvation, then it will inhibit their sanctification or spiritual growth by focusing on outward observances and not inward transformation. Therefore, the gospel of repentance, faith, and good words, we can deduce, isn’t supported by Scripture.

Believe it or not, we have one remaining gospel to look at. This one includes both water baptism and good works as necessary for salvation. But before we investigate this, I have a thought-provoking article for you to read concerning good works.

DO OLD HERESIES ABOUT GOOD WORKS STILL PLAGUE THE CHURCH?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott

Two opposite but equally deadly errors about good works have troubled the church throughout its history. We find them both to be very much alive today.

In our last [article,] we considered the true nature - indeed, the cosmic nature - of good works for the believer. Salvation in Christ is the root, good works are the fruit, and our good works are an integral part of God's plan from before the foundation of the world to redeem a people for eternity.

As we saw in our last article, the [biblical] definition of good works [isn’t] merely "good deeds." The [biblical] definition of "good works" encompasses far more - every aspect of our thinking and conduct before God. "Good works" encompass not only caring for the [poor] but behaving in a godly way toward your employer who gives you the privilege of earning that which you give to the poor. "Good works" encompass not only giving to the work and ministry of the [church] but truly loving those within it. "Good works" encompass not only distributing Bibles to those who have none, but seeking to understand, believe, and live everything [that’s] between the covers of the [book] yourself. [There’s] a "signature conduct" that the world should see in every true Christian. The world that seeks to criticize us should have its mouth stopped because it sees this kind of new life in us.

Now that [we’ve] considered the [biblical] view of good works, we also need to consider some false teachings about good works.

Let me begin with a point that I believe is crucial today. "Good works" of participation in various activities of the church are worthless if, at the same time, church members' homes are a spiritual disaster area. (I use the word "activities" deliberately. Much of what is called "ministry" in the church today falls far short of the [biblical] definition.) The sad truth is that many postmodern Evangelical pastors sacrifice their true work of building godly homes on the altar of building a larger social, service, and sometimes political organization that they mistakenly call "the [church."]

Pursuing the goal of creating what they term a "full-service" church, they require members of all ages to spend so many nights of the week in "church activities" that they leave parents no time to do the vital work of [building] a godly home. [They’ll] question people's commitment - and sometimes even their salvation - if they [don’t] support this agenda with their perpetual presence. [I’ve] even heard some pastors justify their behavior by making grossly [unbiblical] statements like this one: "The church is your home." Often these pastors [don’t] even instruct their people in how to build a godly home. Sometimes these pastors' own homes are a spiritual wreck. Men who pursue this course have much for which they must answer to God. [They’re] placing their people in precisely the position God [doesn’t] desire - where the world's accusations of hypocrisy against the people of Christ are in fact true.

Beyond this serious contemporary problem are two opposite but equally deadly errors about good works that have troubled the church throughout its history. We find both to be very much alive today. One says good works [don’t] matter because you're already saved, and the other says that works do matter because that's how [you’re] saved. Both are deadly errors.

Error Number One: "Good Works [Don’t] Matter"

False teaching number one says that since our salvation is all of grace, good works [don’t] matter in the Christian life. That was the error that the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote these words to the church at Rome:

And why not say, "Let us do evil that good may come"? - as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just. (Romans 3:8) [(New American Standard Bible)]

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. (Romans 6:1-4)

Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. (Romans 6:15-17)

[Thus,] the Bible thoroughly condemns the "come as you are, stay as you are" teaching that we find in much of 21st-century Evangelicalism.

Error Number Two: "Good Works Save"

False teaching number two says something opposite but just as spiritually deadly: that good works can save us, or can contribute to our salvation. That was the error that Paul had in mind when he wrote this to the Galatian church:

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?

This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? - Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain - if indeed it was in vain? Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." [Therefore,] know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed."

[So,] then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them." Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. ([Galatians 3:9-14])

This is also a serious problem today. As odd as it may seem, given the "come as you are, stay as you are" attitude of many postmodern Evangelical churches, reliable surveys have shown that nearly 60% of Evangelical church members believe that good works are necessary in order to be saved, in addition to believing on Jesus Christ…

And then there are other people - you'll hear a lot of this in liberal churches - who believe that when you stand before God, He weighs [the good [and the bad you've done], and if the good outweighs the [bad,] He'll let you into [heaven]. You'll hear people say, [my religion is the Sermon on the Mount]. And when they say that, they're usually thinking of the Beatitudes - "blessed are the poor in spirit" - "blessed are the peacemakers" - and so on.

But what these people [don’t] understand is that in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew chapter five, Jesus also said that if you even think about committing murder, you've committed murder. If you even think about committing adultery, you've committed adultery. The problem [isn’t] merely what you do, it's the condition of your heart.

Please pay careful attention. This is what the Bible teaches: We [aren’t] sinners because we sin. We sin because we’re sinners. We sin because we have a sin nature that has been passed down to the entire human race through Adam.

That sin nature must be dealt with. The only way it could be dealt with was through the shedding of the blood of a perfect substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ. As we read in Hebrews 9:22, "without the shedding of blood there is no remission" of sin - no release from the bondage of the sin nature, no forgiveness of sins committed.

No Such Thing as "Easy Believism"

Here is the balance the Bible maintains: Salvation is all of grace, but [it’s] not "easy believism." You cannot earn merit with God by your works, but on the other [hand,] you cannot profess a "faith" in Christ [that’s] really only a formula of [words] and then live as you please. The Bible knows nothing of either extreme.

Genuine saving faith is God-given faith. [It’s] empty-handed, naked faith. The one who truly believes is God's workmanship from beginning to end.

But as we saw in our last study, the believer has been created in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world to do good works - the works which God prepared beforehand for him to do after he has been justified by faith alone. If a sinner has truly believed - if a sinner has exercised God-given faith in Christ and not a counterfeit - then a changed life will follow that profession of faith in Christ just as surely as day follows night.

[That’s] because the believer's life is by definition a changed life – [it’s] new life in Christ. That changed life is what the Bible calls sanctification - the work of [God,] the indwelling Holy Spirit making the believer think and act and speak more and more like Jesus Christ. But those good works, the [evidence] of sanctification in the believer's life, the evidence of knowing God's will and doing it, [don’t] justify the believer in the sight of God. Good works are the result, not the cause, of salvation. Christ is the root of our [salvation;] good works are the fruit.

Are Good Works Evident in Your Life?

If [you’re] a believer [in] the Lord Jesus Christ [today] if [that’s] your claim, does your life bear it out? Are you doing your own [will] or God's will? Are you living out the works of the [flesh] or the works of the Spirit? [That’s] a serious question that every believer needs to ask. And you'll find the answer by looking into the Word of God. Galatians chapter five, beginning at verse sixteen, Paul says this:

Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Dear friend, if [you’re] a believer today, my prayer for you is that [you’ll] increase in the knowledge of God's [will] so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, "being fruitful in every good work," in gratitude for what Christ has done by grace alone, in saving you from your sins.154

Endnotes

148Adam Clarke’s CommentaryPc Study Bible version 5, 2004, 25 March 2022 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.

149Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries; Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries. BIBLESOFT. WEB. 25 March 2022 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.

150The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament 1989, 25 March 2022 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.

151Calvin's CommentariesPc Study Bible version 5, 2006. BIBLESOFT. WEB. 25 March 2022 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.

152Barnes.

153Barnes.

154Paul M. Elliot. “DO OLD HERESIES ABOUT GOOD WORKS STILL PLAGUE THE,” CHURCH?

.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ITJ1wj

Website: https://bit.ly/3mWKJ2r

New Covenant Ministries - Ministerios NuevoPacto - Harbor Church, Block Island

Sunday & Thursday Worship - Domingo & Jueves 7:00PM

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.

Article source: https://articlebiz.com
This article has been viewed 405 times.

Rate article

Article comments

There are no posted comments.

Related articles