Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Saved by Works

I recently came to the realization that I am saved by works. This realization did not result from a change in my theology, nor did it result in a theological change. It actually reinforced the Biblically-grounded "Sola Fide" and "Sola Gratia" convictions I have long held. Believe me, this is a core Reformed conviction.
I'll say it again another way: all who have been saved have been saved by works. No one can be saved apart from works. I know, it sounds like heresy, but take a moment to read the rest of this article before passing judgment on the idea.
Can we be saved by works and still hold to Sola Fide and Sola Gratia? Yes, absolutely!
The question is not whether we are saved by works, but whose work saves. We can only be saved by the work of Christ. We cannot be saved by our own works. This is just another way of saying we must be saved by faith alone. All we bring to the equation is faith. God brings the rest, and He does the work. Saving faith, of course, can never be produced from within ourselves. It is granted us from God, and Christ is the Author of it. Saving sinners is His work. Granting repentance and faith is His work. Bearing sin is His work. Dying for unworthy wretches is His work. Raising the dead is His work. Forgiving the guilty is His work. Justifying the ungodly is His work. Sanctifying and keeping and glorifying believers is His work.
So if you are saved, it is by works! God's works. 
And when we recognize that we are the sinners, the ungodly, the weak fools who have proudly turned from God's mercy, we cannot imagine that there would ever be any work we could do that could possibly save us. Not in a million years. Not in an eternity.

John 4:34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work."

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."

Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

To be saved by grace through faith is to be saved by good works - but not by our own works. We are saved by the works of Christ Jesus our Lord alone.
Thus we say . . .

Sola Fide!
Sola Gratia!
Solus Christus!
Soli Deo Gloria!
And all of that is a consequence of this:
Sola Scriptura!

Editor's Note: I wrote this article a while back, and had decided not to post it. However, when I saw this post from Eddie Eddings, I changed my mind. I guess we were on the same page.


  1. This is really great; the cleverness of this thought will provoke people to focus on and glorify the work of Christ!

  2. You NAILED it. This is exactly what R.C. Sproul also teaches. I like to say it now b/c it usualy raises an eyebrow until I say "just not your own works" and begin to explain the perfet work of God in Christ Jesus. It is the righteousness of Christ and HIS good works and perfect obedience to the Father and His Law that is the ground and basis of our justification and forgiveness of sins. I have fun messing with people sometimes with this one b/c most people are like "What? I thought it was by grace through faith?" "It is, but 'let me explain...!" Peace in Jesus!


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