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Saved by Faith or Works?

Todd Friel on the Reformation

The Protestant Reformation was huge, and it all began in 1517 on a Roman Catholic Church’s door when a German monk, named Martin Luther, nailed 95 complaints against the church. The Protestant Reformation really revolved around two words: “imputed” vs. “infused,” and this was the mother, the real mother, of all battles.

The Roman Catholic Church taught that when a man becomes a Christian through baptism, a part of Jesus’ righteousness is infused or injected, if you will, into the person, and if he didn’t commit any gross sins, continued to take the sacraments, grew in holiness, and died with the last rites, then he could go to Heaven. In other words, he received a little of Jesus’ righteousness, but had to work his way toward perfection.

But then, Martin Luther, reading Romans 1:17, understood “the just shall live by faith,” and he grasped imputed, not infused, but imputed, righteousness. Imputed righteousness is when God takes our filth and our sins, and He lays them on Jesus Christ at the cross and in exchange, we receive Jesus’ righteousness. We don’t become perfect, but God sees us as perfect through the blood of Jesus Christ.

All of our sins, past, present, and future, are forgiven. No working toward perfection; we’re seen as perfect, so when we stand before a holy God on Judgment Day, we’ll go to Heaven not because of what we’ve done, but because of what Jesus has done.

Ray Comfort on Works

Now some people might hear that and think, “Great! Since Jesus paid the price for our sin, we can sin all we want, right? If we don’t get to Heaven based on good works, why be good at all?” And this is exactly what Paul addresses in Romans chapter 6 when he asks, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” His answer: “Certainly not!” So how are we to understand the relationship between faith and works? Fortunately, God summed it up in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you are saved through faith, and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Then the very next verse he explains where works come in: “For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works.” We’re saved for good works; not because of good works. Good works aren’t the way to salvation; they’re the result of it.

If you claim to be a Christian but have no good works to show for it, or worse yet, your life is marked by sin, then you might not be a Christian at all. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

If you use any of the above text, please give attribution to:

“Way of the Master” TV

This segment is taken from the “Way of the Master” TV show, Episode: Amsterdam.

Ray Comfort

Ray Comfort is the Founder and CEO of Living Waters and the bestselling author of more than 80 books, including God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life, How to Know God Exists, and The Evidence Bible. He cohosts the award-winning television program “Way of the Master,” seen in almost 200 countries, and is the Executive Producer of “180,” “Evolution vs. God,” “Audacity,” and other films. He is married to Sue and has three grown children, and hasn’t left the house without gospel tracts for decades.

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