THE GOSPEL MESSAGE: The Gospel Received


The scriptures are very clear in stating that salvation is not attained by doing good works. The statements in the Bible which explain this usually do so in the context of the works of the law of Moses. Many in the early Christian community came from a Jewish background and were committed to keeping the Old covenant as found in the Law of Moses with all it's various requirements. One of the biggest issues for the early church was the question of the status of the Law of Moses. Some insisted that in order to be saved a person must continue to keep the law including the practice of circumcision.

One can understand the difficulty these early Christians had in breaking away from their Old Testament roots. However the apostles clearly taught the new covenant in Christ had replaced the old covenant with it's practice of all aspects of the law of Moses. This idea of salvation by works also would include any other attempt by an individual to try and merit God's acceptance and forgiveness by means of the practice of any system of good works, morals or ethics. Some would suggest that it really does not matter what religion you practice as long as you are "living a good life". However, there is no religious system on earth including one that is called "christian" that can cancel out the debt of sin and give back to man the perfect righteousness lost to sin.

God is not calling the people of this world to adopt a religion but to come into a very real relationship with Him and His Son Jesus Christ. While Christians are called to continue to keep God's commandments this is not the means by which a person gains or keeps salvation. Consider the following scriptures:

(Ephesians 2:8-9) For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; {9} not as a result of works, that no one should boast.

(Titus 3:4-5) But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, {5} He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy.

In the next verse Paul points out that a person who wants to work for his salvation is paid what he deserves. Unfortunately the wages of sin, any sin, is death. However the one who does not work, but receives the gift of forgiveness of sin by faith, this one is considered righteous by God.

(Romans 4:4-5) Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due. {5} But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness

(Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In another place Paul points out that if a person could be declared righteous by doing works then there would have been no need for Christ to go to the cross to die for sins. This again points out the error of the one trying to work for there own salvation.

(Galatians 2:16;21) ...nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified... {21} "I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."


To say one is saved by faith and not works is not to say that one is no longer required to observe God's commandments. All are called to live in obedience to God's commandments, however, the believer realizes that this is not the basis of salvation but rather the result of salvation and genuine conversion. The numerous places in the New Testament which warn of certain judgment for those who continue in persistent and willful sin should make it very clear that we are to continue to keep God's commandments after conversion.

(1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, {10} nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. {11} And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.

(Galatians 5:19-21) Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, {20} idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, {21} envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

(Ephesians 5:5-7) For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. {6} Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. {7} Therefore do not be partakers with them;

Some might suggest that the keeping of commandments is very legalistic and that all one needs to do is love. This sounds good on the surface but fails to take into account some important biblical instruction. First, we would remind the reader that Jesus told His disciples to go and teach all that He had commanded them (Matthew 28:19-20). While Jesus commanded love He also said that none of God's commandments were to be annulled.

(Matthew 5:17-19) "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. {18} "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. {19} "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus did teach that love of God and neighbor are the most important duties of man but with that He pointed out that all the laws of the Old Testament were designed and built upon the principle of love.

(Matthew 22:36-40) "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" {37} And He said to him, "'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' {38} "This is the great and foremost commandment. {39} "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' {40} "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

Furthermore the apostle Paul also taught the supremacy of love in all things but was careful to point out that real love of neighbor is total conformity to all of God's commands given for the preservation of life and the good of our neighbor.

(Romans 13:8-10) Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. {9} For this, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." {10} Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.