Is it by faith or by works and faith?

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.
22On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’
23But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.

Hello! I have been taught that we are saved when we confess with a mouth and believe that Jesus is Lord and Saviour. When I read the above scripture. I see that my actions contribute to me getting in to heaven. So does it mean believing isn’t enough? If I have believed all my life and lived in habitual sin before I died, do i miss heaven?

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Charlene,

Hello and welcome to RZIM Connect. Thank you for this awesome question.

These verses refer to the fact that many people will spend their lives believing a false gospel. That is, they will believe that it is the amount of things that they did that were good which will ultimately get them to heaven.

Verse 21 - Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
What is God’s will? This is something that we must know Him and share in a relationship with Him to be able to discern. The more we know Him, through His Son Jesus, the better able we can see His will for us in our lives. It’s a journey through our lifetime of coming to know Him, and through the joy we find in coming to know Him, becoming more and more obedient and understanding of His will for us.

Verse 22 - On that day, many will say to me,”Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” 23 - And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you, depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
Getting to heaven cannot be accomplished through works. It can only be accomplished by the payment for sins through the blood of Christ. He died for our sins, and in doing that, He took the fullness of the wrath and justice of God upon His shoulders. When He was on the cross there were three hours of darkness on the earth. It was during this time that that payment was made, a payment that we can never fully understand or comprehend, nor do I believe we want to. It is only through that payment that was made that we can truly be saved, through faith, not of ourselves, it is a gift from God, not of works, so that no one may boast(Ephesians 2:8-9).
Many people get confused on this matter though, and believe that there is something that they can, or must do to be saved. It is not about doing anything. It is in fact about coming to the ultimate realization that there is nothing you can do. About realizing that it is not about what we can do, but about what Christ has done.
Not one of us does good, not even one(Romans 3:12). Even the greatest of our good works brought before a holy and righteous God is like filthy rags in comparison to Him(Isaiah 64:6).
So, what hope have we? Only Christ alone. Through Him we can be made as a new creature, presentable to God through the purification of His blood for the payment of sins. It is the only way. Many miss this simple truth, that no works will save us, and that is what Jesus was referring to here. Yes, works are a natural outworking of a truly regenerate heart, but only through Christ can we truly attain that. Otherwise, we live in the deception that it is anything other than Christ, and Christ alone, who can bring us before the Father, renewed and holy.
I hope that this helps you and pray that God will guide you to the only true answer that you need Charlene. My best recommendation? Pray to God, seek His will and His guidance. Study His word and seek to grow, and know God like your life depends on it. For all of us, it truly does. If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to ask them. God bless you and thank you.

Matthew

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Hey @CharleneNoble, thank you for asking such an important question that really is vital to understand for our faith. The big thing that the Bible teaches is that salvation is not by works but by faith:

8For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life.… Ephesians 2:9

However, some people might look at verses like this one you’ve quoted, as well as others like Philippians 2:12

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling

and interpret it to mean that there is a faith plus works element to obtaining salvation when it is really saying once you have your salvation through faith, your works will be seen because of your salvation. We know this, because Jesus spends time talking about the fact that when we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit. We don’t bear fruit in order to abide in him - that is contrary to what Jesus is saying. Likewise, doing works to obtain salvation is contrary to what the Bible teaches.

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.
22On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’
23But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.

So what is this passage saying? There will be many people doing works that suggest they are acting in the name of Jesus, however, God won’t recognise them because they never abided in Jesus, their works never came out of their faith in Jesus but came out of their own human effort. We are warned of this in psalm 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.

In summary, our works should reflect the salvation we have already obtained, and not be a means of obtaining it.

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Excellent question, @CharleneNoble - and one that has been asked by many people! Whether works contribute to one’s salvation or not, there is unquestionably a correlation!

The best way to understand everything that the Bible says about this correlation together would be: Bible statements that emphasize faith alone define salvation; Bible statements that emphasize works describe salvation.

That is, we really are saved by faith in the work of God, not ourselves, because all of our works are “filthy rags” in God’s sight. To be holy enough to deserve heaven would require us finite mortals to be as infinitely holy as God Himself. Your first childhood sin immediately disqualified you for life!

So faith in the death of Christ to completely pay for our sins, in the resurrection of Christ to raise us to new life, is the defining feature of genuine salvation.

But what kind of faith saves a person? In II Timothy 1:12, Paul says, I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him…

It is a committed faith that saves a person - not trite lip service. Jesus said in John 8:31 that it was a belief that caused one to continue in His word. A faith that doesn’t change your direction will not change your destination. A faith that doesn’t change your life will not change your afterlife.

So all of the verses in the Bible that show salvation to be by faith apart from works are defining the salvation that God sees take place on the inside. And all the verses that show the transformed life that follows describe how it looks to men on the outside.

I hope this helps you sort out the Bible’s many statements on this matter!

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Hello @CharleneNoble a great and deep question. While works are a part of the faith for sure they are not what gets you into heaven. This is made clear in Romans 7:21-25 that it’s not possible for you to earn your way into heaven because of sin. We are not capable of doing it on our own. Even when we try to do right we still do evil sometimes. This is why we need Jesus to begin with. Your works are the result of your faith in God, but works are not limited to just the miraculous nor are they to come from your own effort but instead you are to be doing these things through the Holy Spirit. Paul explained it like this in Ephesians 2:8-10:

8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 it is not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.

So the context of the passage you posted is Jesus speaking about people who only wear the title of a Chrisitan but aren’t true followers of Christ in their hearts. Here is a quote from GotQuestions:

In Jesus’ words on Judgment Day, we see several important truths: it’s not a verbal claim that one follows Jesus that saves (Matthew 7:21). Nominal Christianity cannot save. Also, it’s not a demonstration of spiritual insight or power that saves (verse 22). A person can seem like a Christian in the eyes of other people, yet still be an “evildoer” in God’s sight and sent away from His presence (verse 23). Only those who do the Father’s will and who are known of God will enter heaven.

So, what is the Father’s will? Some men came to Jesus once with a question about what God required of them: “They asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent’” (John 6:28–29). God wants us to have faith in His Son: “This is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 3:23). Those who are born again by faith in Christ will produce good works to the glory of God (Ephesians 2:10).

God doesn’t want lip service he wants heart service. He wants you to submit all of who you are to him withholding nothing. There are those who will do things in his name and still never really give themselves over to Christ, because of this he never knew them and they never really knew Christ. Doing God’s will can also be a number of different things which is why Jesus makes sure to use the examples of the false followers prophesying, casting out demons, and performing miracles. He pointed those things out so people don’t get caught up in thinking that those miraculous moments prove the true motives of a man’s heart. Only God can see that. Smiling at someone can be God’s will, feeding the poor, forgiving someone, hugging someone, showing mercy, etc. Don’t limit your thinking to just a few miracles noted. God’s will and passion for us expand way beyond that. Don’t be in fear of not doing enough to enter into God’s Kingdom. Because he is the creator he knows why he made each and every one of us and he knows exactly what you are capable of doing. He won’t have you do something that is not within reach. Nor has he made works/good deeds a requirement to be saved. If that was the case we could all boast in our deeds and abilities but we can’t. We can only boast in what Christ did for us and how that enables us to serve him. I hope this response wasn’t too long and I hope it helped some :slight_smile:

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Dear Charlene
You are struggling with something that comes to many when we grow close to the Lord including those that have gone before us. As we grow close to our Lord we begin to see more and more about us that falls short of His Will on how and what we should do. I told my children that this is more a sign of your love for Jesus than a sign that you cannot make heaven.

Again first principles is where we go in such a situation.

  1. You did not become saved by your faith or your works and faith. You are saved by grace. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)
  2. This grace from God is by its nature is a gift, not only of salvation, but is also a gift that places the Lord of Lords into your very person and makes you the Temple of The Holy Spirit
  3. This gift of grace by God is a gift given without repentance. That is God will never regret giving it to you and will never take it away from you.
  4. Your faith and your works for God are an outpouring of this gift of grace and are themselves gifts and gifting of God.
  5. Your part in all this is to submit your will to God’s Will, but this can only happen after the gift of His Grace to bring you to Himself. It is this struggle of your will that is the old man resisting submission to God that Paul talks about. This struggle never goes away in this life, but you become more sensitive to it as you grow in Christ Jesus.

Putting Christian Life in the simplest of terms. We are saved by Grace from God; We are justified by Faith in God; and We are sanctified by Works for God; and all is done under The Love and Gifting of God. I think this is one of the meanings of for in Him we live and move and exist (Acts 17:28)

Hope this helps.
Dan

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Thank you all for this!!! Thank you for taking the time to help understand. God bless you.

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