Q. Of all the ministers on line and elsewhere, I love reading and hearing the Grace preachers more than all the rest, but then there are those who appear to believe that it requires both faith and works to make it to heaven. These people do not come across as mean-spirited legalists who want to put us all in bondage, yet there remains this gaping conflict.
This really, really leaves us non-seminary trained torn — I can’t, in my self, resolve this conflict that I see and hear in the opposing camps. Is this issue resolvable?
A. Put in its simplest terms, it’s a cause and effect relationship. Faith is the cause of our salvation and good works are the effect. Put another way, faith precedes salvation and good works follow it.
As long as you maintain this distinction there’s no problem. But if you ever try to make our good works part of what it takes to qualify for or maintain our salvation, then you’ve rendered the Lord’s death on the cross insufficient to save us, and ultimately made yourself responsible for your own salvation.
The opinion that Paul said both faith and works are required in Ephes. 2:8-10 is incorrect in that it makes his statement self contradictory, saying that works are not required in verse 9 and that they are required in verse 10. But when you see faith and works in a cause and effect relationship the contradiction disappears.
Of course God created us in Christ for good works. Not so we could save ourselves, but so we could bring glory to Him after He saved us. Over and over the New Testament makes it clear. We’re saved because of what we believe, not because of how we behave.