by inhonoredglory

All men desire salvation, but all men also interpret it differently. Essentially, the difference is this: Is salvation a free gift of grace, unattached to any human action? Or is it a reward for good works, deeds done upon earth by individuals? Historically, only Christianity lays claim of the former, while most other religions rely upon the latter. But is this the only difference? Do they differ in eternity? How can we tell? And can one actually lead to spiritual death?

"A Surrendered Heart" by Chip Coates

Ironically, both grace and works are rooted in works – whose is the question. Grace relies on God’s works, while works depends on man’s. As a result, salvation by grace focuses on God, in what He does, and for whom He does it, while salvation by works inevitably begins to magnify man, in what he performs and how perfectly he does it. While approving someone for performing good works for God’s glory is not wrong, the tendency of the works-based salvation is the undue emphasis on human deed over divine. The imbalance leans the works salvation toward a trust in the self over a trust in God. The tendency toward the boastful proclamation “I can save myself” replaces the gratifying prayer of “Only He can save.” A haughty attitude thus drifts in, robbing God of His glory.

But can the emphasis on man be justified? Can man, who is imperfect, truly save himself? Is his action complete, faultless? Can he stand up to God and say that he performed all good and perfect things in the way He would have – in every year of living? Can he really be secure in the knowledge of his salvation? No! Only a perfect, infallible God can enable complete, secure salvation. And this is the difference. Salvation by means of good works on earth is an imperfect, incomplete, insecure salvation; in fact, it is not a salvation at all, but a means to damnation, for what man can by his own works obtain heaven?

True religion centers on God, and true salvation is perfect. The self-focus and inability of a works salvation condemns it as a means to life in God’s heaven. Only in His grace can man hope for a blessed eternity. Because only He has the power to overcome that which reins us in sin.

For by grace are ye saved through faith;

and that not of yourselves:

it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast.1

God . . . Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling,

not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace,

which was given us in Christ Jesus

before the world began . . .2

1Ephesians 2:8-9

2II Timothy 1:8-9