“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
I was brought up in an Anglican home. But, the Children Church I attended then never taught me I was saved by Grace, they never taught me the biblical message of Grace and truth that was prominent in the Anglican doctrine… I was told that if I make noise in Church I would go to hell and I am a child of Satan… They said I should obey the 10 commandment before I can make heaven.
I heard the Evangelical message for the first time as a youth when I started attending the Adult Church but it was prominent in The YAC ministry, a ministry of young people in the Anglican Church:
‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved’ (Acts 16:31).
Evangelical Christians teach that a person is saved by faith in Christ alone, and not on account of personal good works.
To my mind this teaching was clearly wrong and dangerous. Wrong, because St James says that faith without works is dead; dangerous because it seems to encourage careless living since a person is not saved by works.
I was determined to study the Bible for myself. I found that James’ concern was to distinguish between true and counterfeit faith. ‘What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?’ (James 2:14). That kind of ‘faith’ is worthless; it cannot save anyone. True faith is recognized by the fruit it produces.
The central question was this: ‘Is a person saved by true faith alone? Or is he saved by faith plus the merit of good works?’ The answer of the Bible is clear and surprising: ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works’ (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Saved through faith … not of works! It is amazing: the Bible that so emphasizes holy living and good works, also states that salvation is not based on personal works. The Christian does not depend on his ‘goodness’ or his efforts, but trusts completely in another Person, the Lord Jesus Christ.
When the Bible says that we are saved ‘not of works,’ it is referring to our efforts. Certainly it does not imply that salvation is an easy task. In fact the work of salvation is so great that no-one could perform it except God himself by his Son. It was necessary for the eternal Son of God to humble himself and become a human being, and having lived a perfect and sinless life, he gave his life on the cross as a sacrifice for sin. ‘Christ has redeemed (freed) us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’ (Galatians 3:13). The payment for my sins was the precious blood he shed; not my works and penance. Certainly that is why God wants me to believe in him.
One question remained: Why then should I perform good works at all? Immediately after stating that we are saved ‘not by works,’ the apostle Paul writes that we are saved ‘for good works.’ Good works are the result, not the cause, of salvation.
Today I am an Evangelical Christian and I am sure of heaven. This is not presumption for I’m not depending on myself and my deeds anymore; I trust in Jesus Christ, knowing that his death on the cross is the sufficient payment for the penalty of all my sins. My sole desire is to live worthy of the One who loved me and gave himself for me.
I am concerned for Christians and others whose life is overrun by sin and yet feel that all will be fine at the end. The Bible warns them that their ‘faith’ is dead and useless to save them from hell. On the other hand, I’m also concerned about devout Christians who are afraid of God’s judgment, and are doing their best to merit forgiveness and grace. They claim to believe in Jesus, but sadly they continue to rely on their own goodness and righteousness.
I want to share the same Good News I heard in my youth and as a youth because it is the message of the Bible. If you want to be saved, believe on the Lord Jesus and stop trusting in yourself or anything you do. Stop clinging to your religion, and with empty hands receive the free gift of salvation. Then, for the rest of your life, give yourself to good works out of gratitude to our gracious and loving Father.