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Five Scriptures Where Paul Says Salvation Is Not By Works

by | Jun 1, 2019 | Blog | 0 comments

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“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” – John 14:6

There are basically two religions in the world: religions that say men must both believe in God and do good works to be received into heaven and there is Christianity that says, “Christ has done all the work, come to him by faith.”

Justification by grace alone through faith alone in the work of Christ alone according to Scripture alone to the glory of God alone is at the very foundation of Paul’s soteriology. In this article, I want to direct you to five sections of Scripture where Paul specifically says we are not saved by works and faith but rather we were saved not by our works but by grace.

Titus 3:4-8

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

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Honestly, this is my favorite passage to preach. It is such a clear gospel that hits all points of the gospel. Here we see all members of the Trinity working. Paul is essentially saying, “Salvation is not a work of men but a work of the triune God in which all three members work.”

You have God the Father saving according to His mercy through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit which we are giving because of Christ our Savior. This work leads us all the way to heaven as heirs of eternal life. Nowhere is there any room in this passage for man to work because God has done all of it.

Galatians 3:10-14

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”  Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith. But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Galatians is the book where Paul throws the gloves down and challenges works-based salvation, specifically the heresy of the Circumcision Party. The Circumcision Party was teaching that faith in Christ was necessary but one had to also be circumcised to be truly saved (Acts 15:1-5).

Paul makes the point crystal clear. If one is going to be saved by circumcision then they must keep the whole law perfectly. Since no one has done that then all those who rely on works of the law are cursed! However, salvation is not by the law. Christ has redeemed us from the law by becoming cursed for us. Hallelujah! Now we are joined to His work by faith, not by our works.

Ephesians 2:8-9

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.

To get the whole thrust of this statement we must take this verse in its proper context. In chapter 2 verses 1-3 Paul describes the total depravity of man and man’s complete unworthiness of salvation. Then in verses 4-7, Paul shows the mercy of God summarized so beautifully in those first two words “But God..”

God has purposed to display the greatness of His love, mercy, and grace in the work of Christ for undeserving rebels. That is where we come to our text. Much like Titus 3:4-8 posted above, salvation is shown to be the work of God to which we can contribute nothing. We can contribute nothing to it because God’s purpose in salvation has always been to display His greatness, not ours. Therefore the gospel was planned in such a way as to leave no room for boasting, no room for human works.

Romans 3:20, 28

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 

I would recommend reading Romans 3:20-28 all the way through but for the sake of article length I will only address these two. Paul is addressing the question: how is man made righteous in the sight of God? You could call the book of Romans the expounding on Hab 2:4, “…the righteous shall live by faith.”

Paul goes to show how the whole world, both Jews and Gentile, are condemned by God’s law for not perfectly keeping the law. Thus Paul shows us the proper use of the law, that is to show us our sin. If the law was given to show us our sin then it cannot be the means by which we are saved, rather it is the work of Christ that saves us as Paul lays out in verses 21-26.

2 Timothy 1:8-10

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,  who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,  and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 

Second Timothy is considered to be Paul’s last epistle. In this letter, he is stirring his protegee Timothy to hold fast to the gospel. He reminds him in the midst of suffering and to hold fast to the testimony of the gospel. What gospel is that? Is it a gospel of works? No. Paul calls Timothy to remember the gospel of grace that Christ is the true Savior. Without any help from us, Christ has “abolished death and brought life and immortality through the gospel”.

Final Suggestions

There are plenty of other verses. I will leave you the reader with only these five for the sake of article space. I would recommend you memorize at least one or two of these sections. It will greatly aid you in your walk and especially as you proclaim the gospel to Roman Catholics, Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and every other religion in the world that seeks to usurp the glory of God’s gospel. We are saved by God alone, for God alone, to God’s glory alone.

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