Saved by grace alone and how does what the Bible says about works fit into that?

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Saved by grace alone and how does what the Bible says about works fit into that?


Galatians 2:15, 16 says it the clearest with “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” That is our works do not save us, but faith saves us and the reason being is that God is perfect and if God is perfect in order to abide in His presence or merit His grace (of a person’s own accord) a person must be perfect. However, we know that we are not perfect and if perfect is the standard then it is impossible to reach that standard. In addition if it is impossible to reach the standard of perfection, how can one achieve the impossible and do something that is more than perfect to make up for their imperfections. That is why it is impossible to be saved by works and we must be saved by Grace alone. (Matthew 5:48 “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”)


In regard to the works that we do perhaps the saying “actions speak louder than words” is the most applicable. If we who are “Christians” do not behave as Christians what does that say about our faith? That is why in James it talks about “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-17). It is not saying that we are justified by our faith, but rather that our faith gives way to works of righteousness. That is why it goes on to say “I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). The final part of that is probably best explained as my pastor explained it. When the last day comes we are all going to be placed on trial in order to determine who goes into heaven and who goes into hell. The determining factor of our salvation is of course faith in God. However, anyone can say “I have faith in God” and in James it says that even the Demons believe that there is one God, but that does not save them (James 2:19). The reason that it does not save them is because in a trial there has to be evidence in order to substantiate a charge. The Demons (and those who are lost) only have evidence of their sinfulness and condemnation, whereas the Christian has the evidence of their works to substantiate that they are truly Christians and the followers of Christ/God. That is why in Matthew 25:31-46 it talks about how God says to those who are saved that they fed Him, visited Him and gave Him shelter whereas the unbelievers did not. The works are evidence and not what we look to as our redemption.