Hi and thanks for your thoughts. I think with any
interpretation of scripture we need to be careful of two things.
1. That we are reading what scripture says and not reading into scripture what
we would think or would like to see.
2. That we take into account the context of the text. ie who the speaker is
talking to and why.
When I read the scriptures that you had sent through I personally couldn't see
anything that says or implies that a person's works play a part in their
For example, you sent through Matt 5:19 'Anyone who breaks one of the least of
these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the
kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be
called great in the kingdom of heaven.' There isn't anything in this passage
about entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, or conditions laid out for getting
into the kingdom of heaven. It is only differentiating between the least and
greatest WHO ARE IN the kingdom of heaven.
Verse 20 does speak about entrance and that is why you need to understand what
Jesus was doing in this, his first sermon to the Jewish people. The law was
given so that everyone's mouth would be stopped and they would all see that they
were guilty before God. (See Rom 3:19-20) The Pharisees where considered the
'most righteous' and religious of the Jews. They had invented there own set of
laws as to what a person could and could not do, so that no one would come close
to breaking one of God's laws. They actually thought that they could obey and be
found righteous by observing the law!!! Big mistake. In trying to do this they
had become proud and hypocritical. That is why the very first thing that Jesus
did when he came, was to show the extent of the law... ie that adultery, murder
etc are actually not just outward acts but intents of the heart. And then Jesus
gave the killer blow to His hearers in verse 20 when He said
'For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the
Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom
This would have shut everyone up because that is what he intended it to do!
Especially the proud self righteous Pharisees! Jesus had to show them the extent
of the law so that they would no longer hope in their own efforts anymore. They
would look to another way... They would look to Him! That is why, if we can pick
up where we left our scripture in Romans, that Paul went on to say:
Rom 3:21-24 'But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been
made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness
from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no
difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are
justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Both Jesus and Paul were showing that your greatest human effort is not enough.
But righteous with God can come by another way. Through a GIFT of God that you
can NEVER pay for... otherwise it wouldn't be a gift. You simply receive in in
faith and thank Him with all you have got!
You see, that is why the context is so important. You need to know why Jesus
said what He said, and you need to look at who He was talking to at the time.
With the sermon on the Mount, Jesus was talking to the Jews who thought that
trying to obey the law was enough. He had to show them the extent of the law so
that they would give up on that belief! But look at what Jesus said later when
His own disciples asked Him specifically what works they had to do to inherit
eternal life -
John 6:28-29 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God
requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he
Now concerning Matt 7:19-27... instead of something that implies salvation by
faith and works, this should be a warning not to be trusting your own works!
These people were not ever saved because Jesus said to them 'Depart from me for
I NEVER KNEW YOU!' And what were they saying to Jesus??? 'Look we did
this, we did that, all good stuff... even done in your name!' This scripture
should be a warning to be not looking to what you can do for Him but in what He
has done for you! It is true that you should be able to see evidence of a true
faith by a change in that person's life as Jesus said. But the Bible does not
teach that trying to obey the commandments in the Bible leads to salvation!
Unless that commandment is to place your complete faith and trust in the work of
Jesus on your behalf in dying for your sins.
I hope some of this helps. I realize you won't just believe
something because I have said it and that is good. I would encourage you to
continue looking these things up in the word and asking the Lord to speak to you
on this. If I could, I would encourage you to read Romans chapters 3-5 though as
this discusses salvation, righteous, the purpose of the law etc... themes we are
talking about. Also I would encourage you to read the book of Galatians because
they were faced with teachers who slipped in and taught a similar belief to
you... ie that salvation is by faith and good works. Have a look at the
directness and passion with which Paul responds in this letter.
God Bless you and all the best.
Hi and thanks for the
The questions that you
have asked seem to indicate that you think Christians want to sin,
or that you are concerned with 'how much' a person can get away with
and still get into Heaven. It is completely true that salvation is
by grace through faith and our works have no part in that salvation.
The Bible is clear on this. And it doesn't contradict itself.
Rom 4:4-5 'Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to
him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does
not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is
credited as righteousness.'
You seem to want to rely on both your trust in what Jesus did and
the good works that you are doing, for your salvation. And yet, a
gift cannot be paid for, it can only be received as mentioned above.
As shown in the above verse, while a person is in a state of
'wickedness' God does not want him to do good works at all, but to
trust in faith in Jesus' work on his behalf, and that faith is
credited to him as righteousness.
The good works that a person does as a Christian is the natural
result of having received the Holy Spirit into their lives. For
example, I became a Christian through reading the Bible. I didn't
know any other Christians in the city I was living in (I had just
gone to another city for University). I read the Bible for 6 months
and finally the conviction was so great as I constantly saw my need
of salvation, I finally repented of the life I was living and asked
God to forgive my sins and live through me. I thanked Him for what
Jesus did as I could see that there was know way I could repay, in
any measure, an infinitely Holy God. But I could thank Him for what
He had done. I was saved on that day. I was declared righteous in
God's sight, because God looked not at what I did, but at what Jesus
did on my behalf. And He came to live in my life, never to leave or
forsake me. Awesome promise, and awesome reality!
Do you think at that point my thinking was 'right, now that I am
saved, and are declared righteous before God, I can go out and sin
as much as I want! Yay!' Not a chance. I wanted to live for the one
who had saved me. God's grace is always going to be a better motive
for living the Christian life than fear. And I can tell you that I
changed heaps! Not because I was trying to 'be good' all of a sudden
either. It is true that I wanted to live for God and not myself. But
I found my attitudes to all sorts of things change. Sins that I
didn't care about before becoming a Christian, I soon could see as
wrong... and didn't desire to do them anymore. It is the natural
consequence of receiving the Holy Spirit into your life. Now the
Bible exhorts us to be zealous for good works as Christians. For
example, look at how much the Apostle Paul speaks about good works
in the one book of Titus.
2:7 '...in all things showing yourself an example of good works.'
Titus 2:13-14 '...looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the
glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave
himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and
purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous for
Titus 3:1 'Put
them in mind to be in subjection to rulers, to authorities, to be
obedient, to be ready unto every good work.'
Titus 3:8 '...I want you to speak
confidently so that those who have believed God will be careful to
engage in good works.'
Titus 3:14 '..Our people must also
learn to engage in good works to meet pressing needs, so that
they will not be unfruitful.'
We should shine the light of the truth of God through how we
live our life. We should desire to actually engage in good works to
help those around us. This is right and is pleasing to God. But this is
the consequence and outworking of our salvation, not the means of
So I don't understand the type of thought that says because a person
is saved they will then want to go and sin all they want because
they are saved by grace not works. I personally don't see that
mentality amongst born again believers. I do see Christians who
struggle with different sins... but they don't want or enjoy the
things they do.
Now going back to salvation, one other thing which people don't seem to understand about the law
of God is that it is a complete package. If a person thinks that his
good works or his refraining from particular sins helps in his
salvation then they need to know that they cannot pick and choose
which commands to keep. They have to keep every single part of it.
James 2:10 'For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at
just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.'
For this reason, Paul says, anyone who is relying in part on what
they do, ie relying in part on their good works and their obedience
to the law, IS PUTTING THEMSELVES UNDER A CURSE.
Gal 3:10-14 'All who rely on observing the law are under a
curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not
continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11
Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The
righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith;
on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.”
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse
for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a
tree.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham
might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we
might receive the promise of the Spirit.
Notice that it says that the law is not based on faith. ie they are
two totally different systems. You cannot be trusting in Jesus by
faith, and trusting in what you do (the law) at the same time. Which
you worry me as you seem to be doing this. It is good that you want
to live a life dedicated and holy to the Lord. That is great... we
should for we owe God everything! So do I. Just don't confuse your
salvation, which is through faith and grace, and cannot be paid for,
with the good works that naturally proceed from someone that is born
You also asked what my definition of faith is. The Bible itself
defines it this way - '
Heb 11:1 'Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain
of what we do not see.'
Faith in Jesus is a trusting in and a clinging to the work that He
did on our behalf. It is not just a head belief. It is not just
saying that certain facts are true. It is a giving yourself over to
that belief so that you are trusting completely in that belief for
yourself - for your own situation. Faith for salvation, as seen in
the Gal 3 passage above, is always set in contrast to the law, just
as grace is (see Rom 11:6) because there is nothing that we could
pay an infinitely Holy God for our salvation. Sin, any sin, means we
have broken all of the law as James says above. This includes pride,
greed, self centeredness, gluttony. Not just the murder, rape and
more horrific sins you mentioned. Any sin deserves death. It is a
price we couldn't pay. Thank God that he has provided a way of
salvation by faith! Thank goodness that:
Rom 10:4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be
righteousness for everyone who believes.
Also, your analogy of Jesus being both God and man, so therefore
salvation could be by both faith and works, is not valid. The Bible
does not contradict itself. You are correct that there are passages
that say that Jesus was a man, and that He was God. True. There are
not however, any passages that say that Jesus was NOT a man, or was
NOT God. It just says that He was both. So it does contradict itself
over this truth.
In just about all of the passages I have quoted above, they say that
salvation IS NOT BASED ON WORKS. That salvation comes to the man WHO
DOES NOT WORK BUT TRUSTS GOD WHO JUSTIFIES THE WICKED. It says that
the law is not based on faith. ie that they are opposites, and that
Jesus is the end of the law (the end of trying to use good works to
obtain salvation) so that righteousness may come a different way...
'A righteousness for everyone who believes'. To then say that
salvation is by both faith and works is to totally contradict these
other passages. And the Bible does not contradict itself. Nor did
the passages you gave me last time didn't say that salvation is
based on works in any part.
I can only hope that some of this helps. I'm sorry if some of the
above was a little 'strong'. It is just that trusting in yourself
for your salvation, even in part, is not a good place to be, for you
will never know where you stand with God. Like, you said that 'I
interpret Jesus as saying that Faith and Works are necessary for
salvation.' If that is true, then my question to you would be 'How
many works are necessary to obtain salvation from an infinitely Holy
God who hates all forms of sin (both internal and external)?' You
will never be able to answer that and so you will never have peace
(unless you just think that your works are 'good enough'.) It is
true that if a person claims to be a Christian then you should be
able to see the fruit of this is their life. This is the natural
consequence, as I have said, of having a true faith and receiving
the Holy Spirit into your life. But it is the evidence of salvation,
not the means of it. And a true faith will show the evidence of that
salvation through the good fruit in their lives.
All the best and may God bless.