For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Quite plainly, if salvation were on the basis of any human merit/works, grace would no longer be grace (see Rom. 11:6). Likewise, the “faith” through which we are saved must also be a gift of grace. Although salvation is conditioned upon believing, all those who are saved are enabled to do so. We are recipients, not causal agents in salvation. It is not true that a person has the ability to believe but refuses. If this were so, then salvation depends upon humans believing rather than on God who grants the ability to believe. Works are not a condition of but a consequence from salvation. “And this,” although referring to our salvation as a whole, does not exclude the faith by which it is received. Wherever God’s grace unto salvation is present, human merit is necessarily excluded. Nevertheless, all those who have received God’s gracious gift of salvation are characterized by “good works,” which do not earn salvation but are the fruit of it. Although we are not saved from works, we are saved for works.

2 Comments

  1. Excellent summary. My standard phraseology is that works are not a condition of salvation, but a necessary consequence. The New Testament knows nothing of the “carnal Christian” (a misinterpretation of 1 Cor. 3)–usually depicted as someone who “accepted Christ” at a youth rally thirty years ago, and has been living a depraved life ever since.

  2. Thanks, Win. I like the “~condition, but consequence” taxonomy.
    Completely agree that 1 Cor 3 has been sorely abused (in dispensational circles). While there are degrees of maturity, all true believers are in the upper right quadrant ([De]Cartesianly speaking)

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