“But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,”
This post is part 3 in a series that looks holistically at the gospel – you can read Part 1 here, and Part 2 here. So far we have seen our need for salvation (the why), and our Saviour (the who). This post will wrap it all up by looking at Salvation (the what).
Works vs. Faith
“But to him who does not work, but believes…”
Works and faith in regard to salvation are completely opposed to each other. The former brings to mind the belief that one is saved, or made right, by working for it (doing good things). Good works are by no means bad to pursue – but they should spring out of a thankfulness of our salvation, which comes not by works, but by faith. Doing good things will not get you into heaven, nor do they guarantee you a place in heaven if you’ve been more good than bad. Only faith in Christ will get you into heaven and save you. If we could earn our salvation by good works, then God would owe us salvation; but it cannot be achieved by human merits, therefore faith is a free gift to those who believe, given out of His great mercy and kindness.
“… his faith is accounted for righteousness,”
When God, who is the justifier of all who have faith in Jesus, gives the gift of faith to someone that they might believe in Him, that person will fully understand and acknowledge three main things: first, that they are a sinner (imperfect); second, that they cannot attain perfection on their own, and therefore need a Saviour; and third, they will relinquish all attempts at relying on any good work to make them ‘good’, and get them into heaven; and instead trust in Christ’s work on the cross as the means for their salvation. Faith (trust) will lead to completely understanding that it is not what we do that makes us good, or righteous, before God – but only faith in Jesus Christ and His work will result in righteousness being counted to us. This is what saves us! We do nothing to earn our salvation, it is a completely one-sided transaction – when we put our faith in Christ and repent (turn away) from a life of sin, He takes our sin, and we get His righteousness. This righteousness is what saves us from judgement and punishment, and instead places us in a perfect, loving relationship with God – what an incredible gift!
And this incredible gift is the good news – the gospel – and we should be so enamored, so amazed by the glory of God in this wonderful gift, that we share it with all people we know, and say with the apostle Paul: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes”!
I encourage you to consider deeply the wonder of God’s grace toward us; the fact that even though we have not done, and cannot do, anything to earn our salvation, yet He freely gives it as a gift through faith to all who believe. Share it with all you know, and never cease giving thanks and rejoicing in our great God!