Scripture-Study List: Salvation by Faith and Works
The Old Testament teaches that in determining our eternal reward God will consider both our faith (our hearts) and our works.
- If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
Jesus Christ Himself taught that calling on His name–having faith–is not enough to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Doing God’s will–good works–is also essential.
- Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Jesus taught that He would return to judge men at the last day according to their works, and, presumably, according to their faith.
- For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
Jesus taught the same principle elsewhere: He will judge men according to their works (and, presumably, their faith) at the last day.
- When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
- And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
- And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
- Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
- For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
- Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
- Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
- When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
- Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
- And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
- Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
- For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
- I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
- Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
- Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
- And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Jesus also taught that calling on His name in faith–“accepting Christ as one’s personal savior”–is not enough. One must also follow His commandments.
- And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
- Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
- He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
- But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
The apostle Paul taught that our eternal reward depends, at least in part, on our works (deeds).
- But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
- Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
- To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
- But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
- Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
- But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
- For there is no respect of persons with God.
Paul also taught that faith alone–hearing the law, even accepting the law–is not enough. Works are also required for justification.
- (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
Paul also taught the Galatians that evil works can keep one out of God’s kingdom. Thus salvation is dependent on works as well as faith.
- Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
- Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
- Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
The apostle James taught that hearing the word–even accepting it–is not enough. Good works are also essential.
- But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
- For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
- For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
- But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
James taught the same principle elsewhere: both faith and works are required for salvation, for “faith without works is dead.”
- What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
- If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
- And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
- Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
- Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
- Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
- But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
- Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
- Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
- And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
- Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
- Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
- For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
John foresaw the day of judgment in his apocalyptic revelation. All will be judged according to their works and, presumably, their faith.
- And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
John taught elsewhere the same principle: men will be rewarded according to their works.
- And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
- I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
- Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
- For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
While good works are essential for salvation, one should not underestimate the importance of faith. Jesus Christ Himself explained that faith–belief–is critical for salvation.
- Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
- And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
- He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Jesus taught the same principle elsewhere: faith–belief–is critical that men might be saved.
- And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
- That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
- For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
- He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
While works are required for salvation in order to satisfy the law of justice, our works are, in the end, insignificant. We must show God we want to follow Him by obeying His commandments, but even strict obedience does not “earn” salvation. As the apostle Paul explained, despite our best efforts to follow God, in the end salvation comes through faith in and the application of Christ’s atonement. In this sense, works do not save us; not that they are not required, but that they are not sufficient. Faith is required for salvation.
- For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
- Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Paul also taught the Romans that faith is essential for salvation.
- Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Paul again emphasized the importance of faith–of belief–when He spoke of the saving power of Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 4:10:
- For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.