Why Salvation is Not by Works

TEXT: “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” (Galatians 2:21)

INTRODUCTION: When we say salvation is by works, we deny the grace of God and devalue Christ’s death. Moreover, when we say that salvation is by works we show that –

1. We are being self-centered, not God centered (Eph. 2:8-9; Lk. 18:9-14). The focus will be on our achievement not on God’s grace. That’s why salvation is by grace through faith, not by works – so that no one will have a ground for boasting before God.

2. We don’t realize how high God’s standard is (Rom. 3:23; Job. 4:17-19). No amount of good works on our part can satisfy God’s requirement of perfect righteousness.

3. We don’t realize how sinful sin is (Rom. 6:23; James. 2:10; Gen. 2:16-17). One sin is it all takes to separate us from God. And without God we don’t have eternal life.

4. We don’t realize what Christ achieved on the cross (John 19:30) (Gal. 2:21). Tetestai! (It is finished.) Paid in full. What we couldn’t do for ourselves, he did for us. He paid the penalty for our sins. He was the perfect sacrifice, the lamb of God without blemish or spot that takes away the sins of the world.

5. We don’t really understand what grace is all about (Rom. 4:4,5). Salvation is a free gift (Eph. 2:8.9).

CONCLUSION: Works are important. They are the evidence of the genuineness of our faith. But they are not the basis of our salvation. They are  the result of our salvation. What saves us is the perfect and all-sufficient achievement of Jesus Christ in that he fully paid the penalty for our sins. Our part is to repent and believe on him, to receive from him forgiveness of all our sins and power to live a new life. “And this is the testimony, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (I John 5:11) ” Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Once a person is truly saved, having sincerely trusted in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour, he will do good works out of gratitude to the Lord who saved, forgave and changed him. Jesus Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:14)

(Preached this at Massebah Christian Church – Bacolod City, last Feb. 8, 2009)

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