Not By Works



The Bible states clearly that we are not saved by works. It also clearly states that without works we are not saved.

*†† (Eph 2:8-10 NIV)For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- {9} not by works, so that no one can boast. {10} For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

*†† (Rom 3:27-28 RSV)Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On the principle of works? No, but on the principle of faith. {28} For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law.

*†† (James 2:14-24 RSV)What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? {15} If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, {16} and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? {17} So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. {18} But some one will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. {19} You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe -- and shudder. {20} Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? {21} Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? {22} You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, {23} and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God. {24} You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

*†† (James 3:13 RSV)Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.

*†† (John 6:28-29 NIV)Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" {29} Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

How then can we resolve this seeming dilemma? Let me call upon an analogy to illustrate the answer.


There was a show on TV called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and each week someone was given a free home. Usually that someone was the victim of a series of circumstances that had left them with a home that was terribly ran down or not adequate for their needs. One home had been invaded by a deadly mold, another home had a foundation that was sinking, and still another was in pretty good shape but one of the people living there had lost two legs and the home was not at all suitable for a person in a wheelchair. The individuals are invariably likeable and you, of course, feel happy for them. Incredibly, the homes are built in the period of one week at no cost to the recipients! The recipients are usually deemed worthy and deserving. In this respect my analogy fails. Let me explain.


Our salvation can be likened to receiving one of these free homes. But we cannot be deemed worthy or deserving as happens each week to the people on the show. You see all have sinned and all have fallen short of the glory of God. And, the wages of sin is death! So by right we should never receive a free home because we are in fact not deserving of one. But, thank God, by grace we have been made eligible for a home through the blood of Jesus. An eternal home!

OK, so we have a free home, the builders have left, the cameras are gone, and we settle down in our lovely new home. There you go, a free home and not a thing was expected of us, right? Wrong!

*†† (Rom 2:5-8 RSV)But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. {6} For he will render to every man according to his works: {7} to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; {8} but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.

Itís not likely the people in the TV show would have been given a lovely new home unless the donors, designers, workers, and such had an expectation that the new owners would do what was necessary to maintain it. Without some work on the part of the new owners the new home will soon be lost. Most obviously they will have to pay taxes on the new home or lose it. If it becomes too ran down they could have the house condemned and lose it.


God should occupy our minds and our hearts. This requires work on our part because God will not and should not live in any unclean thing.

*†† (James 1:27 NIV)Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

*†† (Gal 5:19-23 RSV)Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, {20} idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, {21} envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. {22} But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.

Yes, God has made provisions for us to receive a magnificent free and eternal home, but that does not mean we can keep it without doing some work.

*†† (Eph 5:1-20 NIV)Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children {2} and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. {3} But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. {4} Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. {5} For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. {6} Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. {7} Therefore do not be partners with them. {8} For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light {9} (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) {10} and find out what pleases the Lord. {11} Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. {12} For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. {13} But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, {14} for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." {15} Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, {16} making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. {17} Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. {18} Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. {19} Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, {20} always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

*†† (Heb 10:23-29 RSV)Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; {24} and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, {25} not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. {26} For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, {27} but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. {28} A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. {29} How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?


Simply put it boils down to this. God has given us a future that is magnificent and an eternal home that is beyond corruption. This is the free gift we cannot obtain by our own efforts. The question only you can answer is this, ďAre you ready to do the work it takes to keep it?Ē