Question Asked

Are We Saved By Works?

I have been witnessing to a friend about Jesus and she keeps bringing up Matthew 25:31-46 and says it doesn’t even mention faith in Jesus. She thinks if she is a good person she will go to Heaven according to those Sriptures. Please help me explain those particular scriptures and that the only way to get into Heaven is to accept Jesus .

Qualifed Answeres

There are two issues at work here

There are two issues at work here. First, this passage has to do with the demonstration of true faith, not the means of faith. What Jesus is saying here is that those who profess faith in Jesus will do good works. Those who fail to do those things that please the Lord (feed the hungry, care for the sick, etc.) have no faith at all.

James (the brother of Jesus) says the same thing in his book:

“So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith al all–it is dead and useless” (James 2:17).

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Comments on Original Question


Hi Noah,
We've actually been having a similar dialogue over on my blog. Check the posts on methodology/theology and then my most recent on Justification and James. There are some good insights in the comments and hopefully I do them justice in my blogs.
Hope that helps.

Hi Noah,

I'm sure you've probably quoted John 14:6 (Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.) However, some of the most compelling scripture for me is in Matthew 26:39-44. (Mat 26:39 And He went a little beyond {them,} and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.") Jesus prayed not once but three times to the Father that if there were any other way to reconcile man, that it be done instead of the cross. If there is another way, Jesus died in vain... not possible. He and the Father are one. (John 10:30 "I and the Father are one.") What a wonderful gift! And to be able to freely except the gift and be saved... wow.

I grew up thinking that my works were somehow responsible for my salvation and that God was constantly looking down at me seeing if I was measuring up to get into Heaven. Now after studying the scripture, I'm finally seeing the loving & personal God as He is. When the Lord was here on Earth the people following Him flat-out asked what they needed to do to be saved...

John 6:24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they themselves got into the small boats, and came to Capernaum seeking Jesus.

John 6:25 When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, "Rabbi, when did You get here?"

John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.

John 6:27 "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal."

John 6:28 Therefore they said to Him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?"

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."

And another...

Romans 10:8 But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,

Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus {as} Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

And one more...

Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God;

Eph 2:9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Take care,


i cant see how works wont matter. lets say you keep telling your wife that you love her but continue to have affairs and do as you please. you can then tell her that those works dont matter, because i really feel that i love you. do you think that will fly with her even though you honestly feel you love her.
there are too many areas in the bible where this idea is contradicted, including most of the book of james.
when jesus says "those who did for the least of my brothers(works) they will be saved. those who dont, wont." what else could that statement possibly mean. there are many that claim to beleive in and accept jesus, but live immoral and selfish lives. i cant beleive that will still be enough to inherit an after-life in heaven.
i beleive works and yet god's grace are what it takes to make it.

This one is easy!! Everyone I know who uses this logic demonstrates that he or she still is serving the Law. And, by doing so, yes there is a danger of staying in a sinful lifestyle. To accept grace as a free gift, and walk in the faith that we are new creations, this (feared) possibility of living in a sinful lifestyle never materialises. Nevern when one is free of Law.

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Saying that a portion of the bible isn't about faith is like saying that a cross necklace doesn't represent your devotion. The entire bible is about faith. Stories about faith are demonstrated on every page. The ability to believe what is written on the pages takes the most amount of faith.