Salvation Without Good Works Is an Oxymoron

When people talk about "good works" in the

context of religion, we generally tend to

assume that man does these works by his

own ability and power. But that is an

incorrect understanding of what the Bible

means by "good" works. In the Christian

life, every "good" work is done by the grace

of God. Therefore, the credit goes to God.

He produces many good things through His


The first good work of a believer is to do

just that, namely believe. That is what Christ

taught anyway. Jesus was asked one time,

"What must we do to do the works God

requires?" He answered, "The work of God is

this: to believe in the One He has

sent." (John 6:28,29)

A person would have to be pretty arrogant

to try to take the credit for his belief in

Christ. I mean really. How difficult is it to

reach out and receive a free gift being given

to you? Even the belief itself is God's work

in us. This is why Jesus referred to belief as

"the work of God." We cannot legitimately

take the credit even for that initial step into

the kingdom of Christ, let alone all the good

that will follow it.

Belief in Christ "gets the ball rolling" so to

speak. The "good" works start flowing from

that point forward. You first believe in Christ

as your Savior, and then He does good in

you and through you. Anything "bad" that

remains in you or gets expressed through

you is "on you." Anything "good" that is in

you or gets expressed through you is

because of Him. He gets the credit for the

good, and you get the blame for the bad.

Welcome to Christianity.

Remember this however. The "bad" is under

His forgiveness. You are forgiven. And it is

that forgiveness and the grace of God in

your life that motivates you to want to do

good, and avoid the bad. That is the fruit of

a disciple. You genuinely want to do the

right thing. Those good motives are the

result of Christ in you.

The world has its definition of "good" and

"bad," and God has His definition. In God's

world, there is no "good" if Christ is outside

of the equation. God's Word declares,

"There is no one righteous, not even one;

there is no one who understands; there is no

one who seeks God. All have turned away,

they have together become worthless; there

is no one who does good, not even

one." (Romans 3:10-12)

Christianity is the only religion that offers

forgiveness of sins as a free gift through

faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, salvation

cannot be earned by man. Jesus already

earned it. A person can accept what Jesus

did to earn it, or he can reject Christ. But it

is impossible for man to earn his way to

heaven because a trip to paradise is not for


Repent and believe the good news. That is

the message of the New Testament. And it

was even our Lord's first sermon. (see Mark

1:15) Turn to God in sincerity and truth as

you turn away from sin. Bring your sin to

Christ, and believe that He died to pay for

your sins. That is how the grace of God

begins to flow in a person's life. "Without

faith, it is impossible to please

God." (Hebrews 11:6) This is why a person

cannot do any works that are "good" in

God's eyes until you first believe in Christ.

Without that belief, a person is not yet in

God's family.

Imagine being sick and needing to miss work

for a day, and someone else works that day

in your place. But then imagine getting paid

for the work of the other person. Did you

earn that pay? Of course not. It was given to

you based on the work of another. And that

is similar to what happens in Christianity.

Christ did the work at the cross. We get the

benefits when we believe.

What about the person who believes, but

has no good works to show for it? Well, that

is impossible. It is a straw man. If someone

truly believes, then that is a good work

right there. And if he truly believes, then

Christ will begin living in Him and through

Him. It happens that way with every single

believer. Now a "professing believer" on the

other hand is a different story. If the

professing believer does not actually have

faith in Christ, then there will be no good

works in his life. He is missing the first

good work of faith, and therefore all the

others as well.

Technically, faith is only a "good work" in

the sense that God brings us to faith. It is

His work in us. It is not a "good work" in

terms of man getting any credit for it. For

that matter, neither are any of the good

works in a believer's life. Jesus always gets

the credit, and we get the blame if things go

off track a bit. But even that blame is not

enough to make God stop loving us and

forgiving us. And God's unconditional love

motivates us all the more to try to always

do good things and resist the bad things. As

we do, the Lord accomplishes His purposes

in us.

Pretty simply right? Maybe. That all depends

on whether or not we mess it up with bad

theology. You know, theology for example

that attempts to make our "good works" the

basis of our salvation, rather than merely

the fruit of it. There is a huge difference

between the two.

If I am trusting, even in part, in my own

works for salvation, then I don't have it.

Salvation only comes to the one who

relinquishes any trust whatsoever in his own

goodness, righteousness, and effort. When

we cast ourselves completely upon Christ

and His cross, we find peace, freedom, and

forgiveness. But only when we trust in Christ

alone. That is the order in which it must

happen if someone is going to get connected

to God. To reverse the order is to attempt to

change the Gospel into Law, and that just

doesn't work.

The Gospel is good news about forgiveness

freely given. That doesn't mean it wasn't

earned. It just means you and I didn't earn

it, and could never earn it. As I wrote some

25 years ago in a Gospel rap entitled, "It's

Free," "you can't earn it, can't buy it, you

can only receive it; it's a gift, eternal life is

free, do you believe it?"

Well, do you? Or are you still trying to earn

your way into God's family? One way to be

terribly disappointed in the end is to

attempt to work your way into God's good

graces. Everyone who tries to get in that way

ends up outside the family. God wants you

in His family forever. That is why Christ died

for you.

So why not give up that hopeless pursuit of

working to earn your salvation? Just as there

is no salvation without good works, there is

also no salvation without trusting Christ

alone to save you. Do you see how those two

things work in harmony with each other?

That is just the way God designed it, and

what a symphony of sweetness it is to those

who trust in Christ alone for salvation.

[By Dan Delzell]

Kofi Oppong Kyekyeku

I am a Ghanaian Broadcast Journalist/Writer who has an interest in General News, Sports, Entertainment, Health, Lifestyle and many more.

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