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Grace vs. Works


DP Veteran
Sep 30, 2005
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Something to think about, for those who insist that works mean little or nothing.

The New Testament records about 185 statements that Jesus made on this subject. No other New Testament figure speaks as forthrightly and clearly about the self-examination to which we must continually subject ourselves regarding our works and deeds required to achieve salvation. Of his 185 statements, only 33 can by any stretch of the imagination be interpreted to support the notion that we are saved by grace alone without any effort on our part. So 152 statements, or 82 percent, support salvation through grace plus works, leaving only 18 percent that appear to support the premise of grace with no mention of works, and none of those include a statement that would imply grace alone.

There are about 229 statements attributed to Paul concerning salvation, and 156 of them support the concept of grace plus works. Only 73 of his statements remain, and of those, only a very few go so far as to say that it is grace alone, that works are not necessary.
As to the statements made by Paul, we must consider to whom he was writing at the time.
Christian converts at that time were coming from two directions, the Jews and the Gentiles. The reason that Paul stresses grace so often is to counteract the influence of those Christians who were coming from the Jews; or those who felt that the Law of Moses had the power in and of itself to save them from their sins. They didn’t understand the importance of the atonement, that without the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, their works were for naught. Also bear in mind that it was the Law of Moses he was talking about, not God’s Law in general. The Jews had added quite a bit to the Law of Moses on their own.

Other New Testament figures whose teachings support the inclusion of works with grace as a requirement for salvation are Peter, James, and John. Consider also that those writings by the original Apostles are more likely to reflect the teachings of Christ that those of Paul, who came on the scene after the crucifixion.
There does not seem to be any other New Testament writers supporting the concept of grace alone. Paul stands alone in this concept.

A more detailed breakdown of the references is as follows:

Supporting the inclusion of works: (Jesus and Paul appear to be in agreement here) are:
Works are basis for final judgment, 41 by Jesus, and 39 by Paul
Commandments against sin and/or ordinances that absolve “works of the flesh”, 34 by Jesus, 44 by Paul
Commandments to develop Godlike qualities (fruits of spirit), 61 by Jesus, 68 by Paul
Exhortations to repent sinful ways, 16 by Jesus, 5 by Paul

Supporting the exclusion of works (some conflict between teachings of Paul vs. Jesus)
Man saved by grace, personal works not needed, none by Jesus, 10 by Paul
Good works result of man’s gratitude for being saved by grace, none by Jesus, 3 by Paul
Mankind no longer subject to “the Law”, 5 by Jesus, 28 by Paul
Man saved by grace, no mention of works, 28 by Jesus, 32 by Paul.
It would be helpful to know exactly who wrote the books of the New Testament, and I will list here what is thought to be accurate information.
Of the 4 Gospels, the names tell it all. Matthew was one of the original 12 apostles, as was John. Mark was a companion to Peter, and Luke was a companion to Paul.
The next 13 books, Acts through Philemon, are thought to be written by Paul, and are called the Pauline scriptures. Some say Luke may have written Acts.
The next 8 are called the General Epistles and are as follows,
James by James the brother of Jesus, 1&2 Peter by Peter, 1,2,&3 John by John the beloved, and Jude by Jude the brother of James and Jesus. The author of Hebrews is not known.
Revelations stands pretty much alone in classification, and there is much speculation as to author or authors.

Looking at the list, there are some interesting observations to make.
In 2Cor 5:10, it appears that Paul is supporting works, but verse 19 appears to conflict. He is claiming reconciliation without consideration of our trespasses (bad works), which would be grace.
Likewise, Ephesians 2:8-9 is about grace, but then verse 10 says that we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works and that we should walk in them.

Another term to consider when discussing salvation is faith. It should be obvious that works are an indication of faith, and the thing that helps us develop greater faith.

So if living righteously and doing the will of God as taught by Jesus and the apostles are good works, and sin is bad works, and we are to be judged according to our works, then surely good works is paramount to salvation. But after all that we can do, not instead of what we do, the gift of grace as delivered to us freely through the atonement is also paramount.
A gift is something that is received as well as given, and it is up to us to show that we want to receive that gift. How else can we show appreciation for that gift but by doing what we are clearly commanded to do by the words of Jesus?

The list that follows was transferred from a data base, and the sequence numbers mean nothing here. The WG column will list a W for a scripture that supports works, and a G for grace.
There may be an occasional error on my part, but most arguments will likely be due to differences of opinion or interpretation. However, there is clearly a preponderance of scriptures supporting works as an important part of our salvation. There are likely other scriptures that should be included in the list.
And, just to make it very clear, I am saying that we need BOTH, not one or the other.

works vs. grace
sequence Book Chapter Verse WG
1 Matt 3 12 W
1 Matt 4 4 W
1 Matt 5 17-19 W
1 Matt 6 24 W
1 Matt 7 13-27 W
1 Matt 12 23-26 W
1 Matt 13 24-43, 47-51 W
1 Matt 15 50 W
1 Matt 16 27 W
1 Matt 19 16-21, 25-30 W
1 Matt 21 28-32 W
1 Matt 22 1-14 W
1 Matt 23 13 W
1 Matt 24 46-51 W
1 Matt 25 31-46 W
3 Luke 1 6 W
3 Luke 2 25-26, 37-38 W
3 Luke 3 9-14 W
3 Luke 6 46-49 W
3 Luke 10 10-16 W
3 Luke 12 10, 42-48 W
3 Luke 13 6-9 W
3 Luke 14 14, 25-33 W
3 Luke 16 15 W
4 John 3 19-21 W
4 John 4 36 W
4 John 5 14, 28-29 W
4 John 8 39 W
4 John 10 38 W
4 John 14 12,15,21,23 W
4 John 15 1-8, 10-15 W
4 John 17 15 W
5 Acts 24 15, 25 W
6 Romans 2 2-13 W
6 Romans 3 5-6 W
6 Romans 4 2-8 G
6 Romans 5 8-11 W
6 Romans 10 9-10, 13 G

sequence Book Chapter Verse WG
6 Romans 11 5-6, 26-32 G
7 1Cor 3 5 G
7 1Cor 3 13 W
7 1Cor 6 8-10 W
7 1Cor 9 25 W
7 1Cor 15 58 W
8 2Cor 5 19 G
8 2Cor 5 10 W
8 2Cor 7 1 W
9 Gal 2 17 W
9 Gal 6 7-9 W
10 Eph 2 10 W
10 Eph 2 8-9 G
10 Eph 5 5-6 W
11 Phil 2 12-15 W
12 Col 3 24-25 W
14 2Thes 1 8 W
14 2Thes 2 12 W
15 1Tim 5 8, 12-14, 25 W
16 2Tim 2 13 G
16 2Tim 3 1-7 W
16 2Tim 4 14 W
19 Hebrews 3 17-19 W
19 Hebrews 6 7-8 W
19 Hebrews 10 26-31, 36, 38-39 W
19 Hebrews 11 7-8 W
19 Hebrews 12 28 W
19 Hebrews 13 4-5 W
20 James 1 19-27 W
20 James 2 14-26 W
20 James 3 12-14 W
20 James 4 3-4, 17 W
20 James 5 19-20 W
22 1Peter 1 2,17 W
22 1Peter 5 8,10 W
22 2Peter 2 9, 18-22 W
22 2Peter 3 7, 17 W
23 1John 2 3-5, 9, 28-29 W

sequence Book Chapter Verse WG
23 1John 3 3-10, 17-24 W
24 2John 1 9, 11 W
25 3John 1 11 W
26 Jude 1 3-7 W
27 Rev 1 3 W
27 Rev 2 10, 20-26 W
27 Rev 3 2-5, 8, 10, 20 W
27 Rev 14 10 W
27 Rev 21 7-8 W
27 Rev 22 11-12 W
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