Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gospel= Saved by Works?

To some degree, everyone on this earth tries to justify their existence by works. Everyone thinks they are saved, or are justified in their existence, or will go to heaven based on works. Most people trust in their own works or own goodness. At the end of the day, they believe they are good people, who have done enough 'works' to get in. Comparatively speaking, we all think we are better than most. As humans, we inherently trust in our own works to justify ourselves. 

The gospel is both similar and sharply contrasted to this. The gospel says the only way to be saved is by works.....but not your own. And here is the gospel, or good news. 

The Bible testifies against man, that in their own works, or own goodness, no one is righteousness, not one. In our own standing, we are completely and utterly hopeless. Before God, any attempt to stand on our own two feet, or any attempt to justify ourselves by thinking we really aren't that bad, or are better than our neighbor or the 'evil' people in the world, won't stand. But, God being rich in mercy and great in love, saw this problem of Sin. He sent His Son to live the perfect life, and die the death we deserve. Now, though we all are condemned based on our own lives, the good news is that we can be saved based on the works of another. The gospel is that we are saved by works....but not our own. The gospel is that Christ's work is fully sufficient to merit salvation. More so, this is a gift that is given freely by grace. It can't be earned. So why would we spend our lives striving so hard to try and earn God's favor? Why do we try to justify our existence with our own goodness? Jesus is better. Being a Christian is to forsake, or turn from your own work/goodness and to turn to Christ and His work. In the words of my favorite hymn, 'Rock of Ages'

"Nothing in my hand I bring
Simply to your Cross I cling, 
Naked look to thee for dress
Helpless look to thee for grace."


  1. Psalm 62:12 "Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work."

    Works-based justification is more gracious than grace-bases justification, in that it presents God as placable, able to be pleased. In grace-based salvation God is depicted as implacable, unpleasable, a crazed perfectionist who can think of no better thing to do with an imperfect creation than to burn it in hell forever. But in works-based salvation, God's forgiveness is able to work together with man's works without any false dichotomy between the two. The Psalmist here praises God as "MERCIFUL" for rendering to every man "ACCORDING TO HIS WORK." To the Psalmist, grace would be tyranny. If God could render to an immoral man a great paradise, then he could equally render to a moral man great torment. In such a case, God's justice would be the opposite of justice. Grace creates chaos and inconsistency: it creates unpredictability, much like a Communist economy. But in a world where God (as in Romans 2:6-10) renders ETERNAL LIFE to those who "by patient continuance in well doing seek glory and honor and immortality" and TORMENT AND ANGUISH to those who "obey unrighteousness rather than righteousness" there is predictability and true justice, and in this predictability and in this consistency there is a MERCY that transcends all the cruelty of that unpredictable and repugnantly inconsistent thing called GRACE.

  2. beowulf, I can go into much more detail if you wish, but your comment is a complete misunderstanding of the entire testimony of the Biblical Narrative. The wages of sin is death. We have all sinned. Therefore our works do not merit life.

    Also, in regard to the passage of Scripture you quoted in order to prove your point. I am afraid to say that this is taken out of context. Notice that the entire theme of Psalm 62 is David repeatedly declaring that his hope is in the Lord, that He trusts in the power of the Lord for salvation. The Psalm in itself is supposed to be an exhortation to the people of God (God's Covenant people of Israel whom He had chosen and loved) to trust in him at all times (vs. 8), whether of low estate or high estate (vs. 9), poor or wealthy (vs. 10). The punchline of the psalm isn't that God will render to a man according to his work....therefore work hard and make sure you are moral enough to earn his Favor. NO NO NO. You are completely mistaken in reading into that. Rather, the punchline is that power belongs to God, steadfast love, grace and mercy are His, therefore....TRUST IN HIM ALONE FOR SALVATION, look to HIm as the refuge, not yourself. Wait for Him because He is Good and merciful and He will redeem. He loves His people with a furious love and will not give up on them. He is working out His plans, which we are a part of so trust in him. Our salvation rests on Him (vs. 7).

    God will render to man according to his work. But that isn't the good news. That is meant to drive us to trust in God alone for salvation, because according to our works, we don't make the cut. We don't deserve to be God's people. And yes, the good works we do are by grace as well, and are an extension of God's mercy, but we are not counted as God's covenant people based on them. We are counted as his people by grace. That is why David is so emphatic about exhorting 'people to trust in Him at all times'

    I hope this was helpful, not sure if you'll even read this. I hope and pray that you reevaluate your position with the entire narrative of Scripture.