What About Works?

by Richard Church

In every dispensation God has established some action as a show of faith.

In the case of Noah, for instance, it was to build an ark. It was not building the ark that justified Noah; it was his faith. But if he had not built the ark, he would have been showing that he didn't really believe God regarding the flood. He received righteousness when he believed and showed his faith when he built the ark.

(Hebrews 11:7 KJV) By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

For the Old Testament and kingdom believers, their faith was to be shown by adherence to the Law. This does not mean that they could not keep every point of the Law, but that when they did transgress the Law they showed the proper repentance and brought the proper sacrifices, after the crucifixion and resurrection, this also included the propitiatory sacrifice and advocacy of Christ in their behalf.

(1 John 2:1-6 KJV) My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: {2} And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. {3} And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. {4} He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. {5} But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. {6} He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

For the kingdom believer, the sacrifice of Christ did not give them liberty to break the Law willfully, but it did make provision for the inadvertent transgressions to which mankind is prone.

(Hebrews 10:26-27 KJV) For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, {27} But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

I [Richard Church] don't believe this constitutes a loss of salvation, but rather the willful sin was a sign that the person had never received the righteousness which is of faith. When God says certain actions are worthy of judgment, if they do those things and expect to escape judgment, then they don't really have faith in God.

However, for us today, there is no good work that must be done to show salvation. Faith in and of itself is enough. This is what Paul means when he says:

(Romans 3:24-28 KJV) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: {25} Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; {26} To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. {27} Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. {28} Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Today it is not necessary for us to declare our imputed righteousness by our works, but rather to declare God's righteousness by our faith in the shed blood of Christ as the full and complete payment for our sins. Whereas Israel was justified by faith, and their faith was made perfect by works (James 2:22), we are justified by faith completely apart from any deeds of the Law. Unlike any previous dispensation, in the dispensation of grace, there are no works that must by done to show our faith.

To sum up, salvation is now, and has always been, essentially by grace through faith. What has changed, however, is the required response of true faith.