Spiritual Light

instructions in the faith for spirit filled believers
This book contains perhaps the most needed understanding for God's people today. Prompted by the word of the Lord this book analyzes what the Bible says about the most fundamentally important aspects of Jesus' saving work. Precious understanding revealed by a loving God for His people!
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Book Contents
Title Page
Original Introduction
Introduction to the 3rd Printing
My Credentials
Chapter One
The Third Commandment
Credentials for Chapter One
Marriage - Taking the Name
Spiritual Adultery
Like All the Nations
For Our Admonition
Chapter Two
The Sacrifice of Christ
Credentials for Chapter Two
The Sacrifice of Christ - The Copy & the True
An Important Detail - Where was Christ Sacrificed?
The Witness
Chapter Three
Conversion and Baptism
Credentials for Chapter Three
Two Gospels
Circles - The Body of Christ
Same Wrong Error - Sufficiency of Christ
Chapter Four
Salvation and Works
Credentials for Chapter Four
Ignorant and Unstable
Hebrews - Hope - Kept by Power
Glorified - Two Rocks (Rom 10:9-10)
Acts 16 - Saved Through Faith
Error in the Name of Truth
Remnants of Works - Conclusion

Spiritual Light

Chapter Four - Salvation and Works

Ignorant and Unstable

"For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them."

(Eph. 2:8-10)

"And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation, even as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which some things difficult to understand, which they who are ignorant and unstable twist, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their own destruction."

(2Pet. 3:15-16)

There are, indeed, some things difficult to understand in Paul's letters, and Ephesians 2:8-10 is one of them. Those verses, as much as anything Paul ever wrote, have been twisted by "ignorant and unstable" men to the destruction of many a soul. Let's take a careful and prayerful look at these and similar Scriptures which will, I'm sure, open to you a new world of understanding of the Savior and of God's will for His people everywhere.

Stating The Question

In saying that our salvation is "not of works," was Paul saying that the behavior of believers is not taken into account, concerning their hope of salvation? Is he really saying, as some teach, that regardless of whether God's children do good or evil in this life, they will still receive eternal life with God? Of course not. Paul wrote:

But after your hardness and impenitent heart, you are treasuring up for yourself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds. To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, [God will give] eternal life, but unto those who are continuous and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, [God will pour out] indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that does evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile, but glory, honor, and peace, to every man that does good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile."

(Rom. 2:5-10)

Clearly, eternal life will be given only to those who do good, and eternal damnation will be given to "every soul of man who does evil." How, then, could Paul say that our salvation does not depend on works? Furthermore, if our deeds do not determine whether we will be saved or damned, how could Jesus speak of the dead being raised, "those who have done good unto a resurrection of life, but those who have practiced evil unto a resurrection of damnation." (Jn. 5:29)?

Was Peter giving empty warning to believers when he wrote:

"But as he who has called you is holy, so you be holy in all your conduct, for it is written, Be holy, for I am holy. And if you call on the Father, who without respect of persons judges according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear."

(1Pet. 1:15-17)

In John's great vision called Revelation, Jesus told him that only those who obeyed his commandments would be permitted to eat of the tree of life and enter into the city of God (Rev. 22:12-14). Besides this, how many of the prophets and apostles warned God's people that a Final Judgment was coming upon all men and that this Final Judgment will be based on their works! David (Ps. 62:12), Solomon (Prov. 24:11-12; Eccl. 12:14), Jesus (Mt. 16:27), John (Rev. 20:12-13), along with every writer of the books of the Bible, taught us that our works will determine our eternal destiny.

How then could Paul say that salvation was "not of works"?

The answer is easily seen once the word "salvation" is properly defined.

Basically, what is taught by many of the religious in this culture is that when a sinner repents and is converted, he "gets saved" at that moment. Therefore, as the current persuasion holds, everyone who believes has already received salvation, so that the body of Christ is comprised of "saved" people. But in the Scriptures we see a significantly different understanding of salvation. For example, Paul wrote, "now is our salvation nearer than when we believed " (Rom. 13:11). If "salvation" means "conversion" as Christians teach, then what was Paul saying? Our conversion is closer than when we believed? Or, when Jesus said, "He who endures to the end shall be saved", was he teaching that whoever endures to the end will be converted"? Of course not.

These Scriptures obviously conflict with the popular misuse of the word "salvation", for it never uses that word as a synonym for "conversion". Paul understood conversion to be the first step toward the salvation of God, which salvation would be given only to those who were converted and afterward were faithful to God.

Old Testament Israel again provides the prime example of this truth. Leaving Egyptian bondage, the people were led by Moses through the Red Sea into the Sinai Wilderness. There, they grieved God with sin until He refused to allow them to enter the promised land of Canaan. Every Israelite male twenty years old and older was condemned to die in the wilderness.12 Forty years later, when they all had died, Joshua led the remaining Israelites across the River Jordan into Canaan.

This journey had six major steps:

  1. Egypt
  2. Red Sea
  3. Mt. Sinai
  4. Wilderness
  5. Jordan River
  6. Promised Land

In a spiritual sense, these six steps exist in the New Testament, with different titles:

  1. Sin
  2. Repentance
  3. Conversion
  4. Life as a believer
  5. Death
  6. Salvation

Salvation is our hope; it is something we turn from sin to obtain. We cannot say that we have received salvation simply because we have turned from sin, any more than the Israelites could claim to have entered the promised land simply because they had crossed the Red Sea! Our Promised Land of eternal peace and rest is certainly promised to us who have been delivered from the bondage of sin; still, we must faithfully follow the cloud across the burning desert of this life in order to obtain it.