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Being saved by your works according to the New Testament



Many Christians often assert that Islam is a faith of works, a Muslim’s salvation lies in how good he or she is, if their good outweighs the bad, and that’s how they’ll be saved.

They argue that Christianity in contrast, is about the faith and ‘relationship’ one has with God.

We’ve already dealt with this Christian claim in the following article, concerning whether Islam is a faith of works:

We now turn our attention to the New Testament, because interestingly enough, the NT clearly teaches that people will be rewarded and saved by their actions:

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28-29)

So as you can see, according to Jesus those who do good will have the resurrection of life, and those who do bad will have the resurrection of damnation. Hence these verses make it crystal clear that Jesus and the Bible teach that a person's salvation does rely on his acts and deeds.

This is not the only place in the Bible where it clearly teaches that people will be saved by their actions, we also read in Matthew 16:27 the following:

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (Matthew 16:27)

So again we see Jesus clearly teaching that people will be rewarded according to their WORKS.

If it were simply about the faith, then why would Jesus be saying people will be saved by their actions? Why is he even mentioning actions and deeds if they don’t have a role, and it’s all about the faith? We wouldn’t be expecting him to say anything about people’s deeds as a basis for salvation, yet that’s what we find.

It seems that Jesus had a very different understanding of salvation than modern day evangelicals.

Finally, the strongest teaching from the Bible concerning being saved by works comes from the book of James chapter 2 verse 14 which reads:

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? (James 2:14)

So notice how James the brother of Jesus teaches that what good is it to have faith without any works and even goes as far as asking can faith alone save the person? James was clearly of the opinion that faith alone was not good enough, and that a person must have works alongside faith.

James goes even much further when he writes the following:

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (James 2:17-24)

Notice how clear and explicit James is, he says that faith without works is dead, and it is of no use. He even uses a very strong example saying even the devils believe in God, but what good is that?

It is clear that James is being so explicit because the apostle Paul was going around teaching that faith alone was good enough and works played some minor role. James obviously had a problem with such a doctrine which is why he emphasized the importance of works accompanying faith.

In fact the teachings of James were very problematic for many Christians, including Martin Luther, a Christian who heavily influenced what is known as reformed theology, a school of thought that is heavily followed by many Christians, most specifically the anti-Islamic evangelicals who preach justification by faith alone.

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