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Many people believe that good works will save them. For example, an August 31, 2021 survey from Arizona Christian University reveals that 72% of persons who call themselves a “Christian” believe that people are basically good, and 58% believe that if someone does enough good works, they will get to heaven.
This theology that good works can save a person is not biblical. Tragically, anyone who relies on their good works to get to heaven travels on the road to hell.
ONLY JESUS SAVES
What Jesus did on the cross is what saves a person. The Apostle Paul made it clear when he wrote 1 Corinthians 15:3–4 (NLT):
3 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.
A BRIEF LOOK AT 1 CORINTHIANS 15:3-4
Let’s take a brief look at verses 3-4.
The phrase “Christ died for our sins” contains more than meets the eye.
The title “Christ” refers to Jesus Christ who is God the Father’s only unique Son. While retaining His deity, He became a man in Jesus and lived a perfect life so that He would be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.
The expression “died for our sins” reveals that all of mankind is sinful and in need of the Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ took the sins of mankind upon Himself so that through His sacrificial death on the cross a person has forgiveness of all their sins (past, present, and future) available to them.
The phrase “just as the Scriptures said” refers to the Old Testament prophesies about Jesus. In this case, one applicable passage is Isaiah 53:4–6 (NLT):
4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! 5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. 6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.
The phrase Jesus “was raised from the dead on the third day” refers to Jesus’ physical bodily resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection is a historical fact provable using the biblical accounts merely as uninspired ancient evidence and other non-biblical ancient documents.
The phrase “just as the Scriptures said” refers to Old Testament prophesies such as Psalm 16:10 (NLT) [emphasis added]:
10 For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
Jesus’ resurrection proves that His sacrifice on the cross was the satisfactory payment for sin in the eyes of God the Father.
The physical death and physical bodily resurrection from the dead made Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross effective for the salvation of mankind. A person’s good works have nothing to do with “making it to heaven.”
If you think that your works (including water baptism by immersion) played any part whatsoever in your salvation you need to reexamine your salvation per 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NET):
5 Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you—unless, indeed, you fail the test!
You may find that you are not saved, because you have never repented of your sins and trusted alone in what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross.
If you discover you are not saved, please skip to near the end of this article. Then, please (1) read through “God’s Plan of Salvation” so you can understand what God did for you through His only unique Son, Jesus Christ, and (2), from the bottom of your heart, pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” meaning every word. If you do, you will be reconciled to God – saved – through Jesus Christ.
Upon your salvation, you must engage in daily Bible reading and prayer. Also, you must find a spiritually solid Bible-believing church that (1) teaches that the sixty-six books of the Bible are the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God, (2) believes in the doctrine of the Trinity, which means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and each Person is fully God, and (3) teaches that salvation is by grace through faith and not by works (e.g., water baptism of any sort).
Please do not make the mistake of thinking that once you become a Christian, your life will become easy. Most likely, it will become more difficult. God’s blessing of salvation and the difficulties of life are not mutually exclusive. Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” John 15:18 (NLT). Always keep in mind that you have an eternal home in heaven waiting for you per John 14:2–4 (NLT),
2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.
I hope you found this article helpful to better understand that good works do not save a person.
CONTACT: For more information about locating a solid Bible-believing church or using ancient documents to prove that Jesus’ resurrection is a historical fact, please contact Steve Belsheim at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Devotional No. 4.Rev. 1.0)
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
The Scriptures marked “NET” are quoted are from the NET Bible® http://netbible.com copyright ©1996, 2019 used with permission from Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved”.
GOD’S PLAN OF SALVATION
In the beginning, God, who is holy, created the entire universe. As a part of His creative actions, He made humans in His image to know Him. For a while, everything was right between God and our ancestors, Adam and Eve. But Adam sinned, and his sin was passed down to all of humankind whereby we became separated from God. Nothing we could do on our own could bridge that separation so that without God’s intervention, hell would be our eternal destination.
Fortunately for us, in His great love and mercy God provided humankind with the only means of salvation, which is through Jesus Christ who is God’s only unique Son. While retaining His deity, God the Son became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law Himself and taking on Himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever repent and trust in Him for their salvation. Jesus rose from the dead, showing that God the Father accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us has been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and trust alone in what Christ did to save us.
If we repent of our sins and completely trust in Christ alone that He died for our sins and rose to life from the dead, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.
Scripture References: Genesis 1:1, 27, 31; Habakkuk 1:13; Genesis 2:7, 18, 21-25; Genesis 3:1-7, 23-24; Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:19-20, 23; 5:17-19; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 6:23; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 1 John 4:10; John 3:16-18; Mark 1:15; Romans 1:4; 4:25; John 3:5-8; 1 Peter 1:3.
Lord, Jesus Christ, the only unique Son of God, thank You for Your free gift of eternal life. I know I’m a sinner who cannot save myself no matter what I do, and I deserve to spend eternity in hell. But, I know that because You loved me so much, You voluntarily died on the cross for me taking my sins upon Yourself, and You physically bodily rose from the grave showing that Your sacrificial death was sufficient payment to give me eternal life in Heaven. I now repent of my sins and trust alone in what You did for my eternal salvation. Please take control of my life as I now receive You as my Lord and Savior. Thank You so much for saving me. I am now Yours forever! (Scripture references: John 1:1-4, 11-14; John 3:16; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:21-26; Isaiah 53:4-6; Mark 1:15; Acts 16:31; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10, 13; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; John 10:27-29).