OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew




A.   The denominational world has always set forth the argument that works do not save an individual.

1.     Ephesians 2:8-9


For by grace as ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God.  Not of works, lest any man should boast.


2.    Titus 3:5


Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.


B.   These passages do cause us to have to think.  This is especially true in light of other passages dealing with works.

1.     Acts 10:34-35


Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:  but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him.


2.    James 2:24


Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (NOTE:  The word “justified” here is the same word used in Romans 5:1).


C.   There seems to be a contradiction in the teachings of the Bible about works.  Works save and works do not save.


D.   The answer lies in the type of works under discussion.

1.     In the Bible, there are four types of works that are mentioned.

2.    There are works that save.  There are works that do not save.

3.     In this lesson, we want to discuss the differences between these works.




A.   The law of Moses was given to the nation of Israel when they assembled at Mount Sinai at the beginning of the wilderness wanderings (Exo. 19:1-6)


B.   This law was in effect from its beginning at Sinai until the cross of Jesus Christ (Col. 2:14).


Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way nailing it to his cross.

C.   Two groups of individuals tried to hold to the Law of Moses after it was done away.

1.     The Jews who did not accept Jesus as the Messiah, nor the New Testament.

2.    Jewish Christians who believed that the Law of Moses should still be adhered to


D.   The Law of Moses contained commands of God that could be classified as works.

1.     One could not be saved by the works of the Law of Moses.

a.    It was abolished.

b.    It was never designed to save individuals.

c.    Two verses:

1)     Galatians 2:16


Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law:  for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.


2)    Galatians 3:10


For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse:  for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in the things which are written in the book of the law to do them.




A.   Titus 3:5


Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.


1.     Works of righteousness in the verse are works that man has devised that he believes will save him.

2.    These are plans and schemes derived in the mind of man that he believes will save him.


B.   Bible example:  In addition to the Law of Moses, the Jews believed that they could be saved just because they were descendants of Abraham.

1.     John confronted this teaching when the Pharisees and Sadducees came to his baptism (Matt. 3:8-9).


Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:  and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father:  for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto father Abraham.


2.    Jesus highlighted this when He taught Nicodemus about the “new birth.”

a.    Nicodemus was a Pharisee.  Most of these men trusted in the flesh, that is, their ties to Abraham to save them. 

b.    Jesus let him know at the very outset of their discussion that his birth would not save him.  He needed to be born again (John 3:3, 5).


Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.


C.   Two examples from today.

1.     Many denominations have devised their own “plans of salvation.” 

a.    These plans are not found in the Bible.  They cannot save. 

b.    Example:  Salvation by faith only.

1)     When the word “only” is used in reference to something saving a person, everything else is excluded. 

2)    When individuals say one is saved by “faith only,” there is absolutely nothing else that can save that person.

3)     There are other things that are needed in order for a person to be saved.  One of them is confession (Rom. 10:9).


That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.


2.    There are some Christians who are in sin, but do not want to repent of their sin.  They believe if they can just be faithful enough in all the other areas of Christian living that God will save them in the Last Day.  This is their scheme of salvation, not God’s.  God demands that they repent of their sins in order to be saved (Luke 13:3).


I tell you, Nay:  but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.




A.   From eternity, God devised a plan whereby man could be saved.  That plan is found in the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16-17).


For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:  for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also the Greek.  For therein is the righteous-ness of God revealed from faith to faith:  as it is written, The just shall live by faith.


1.     Therein, the gospel, is the righteousness of God revealed.

2.    In the gospel, God has given a plan to make man righteous.


B.   When men obey God’s plan, they are working the righteousness of God (Acts 10:35).


But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.




1.     A man must believe in order to be saved (John 8:24).


I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in our sins:  for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.


2.    Since this is a part of God’s plan, belief is called a work (John 6:29).


Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.


3.     All of God’s commands become works that man must carry out in order to be saved (James 2:24).


Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.


a.    These works do not merit our salvation by any means.

b.    They are God’s requirements, however, for salvation.  We must do them in order to be saved (Acts 2:40).


And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.




A.   One of the reasons God saved us was for us to engage in good works.

1.     Eph. 2:10


For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.


2.    Titus 2:14


Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.


B.   Some may be of the opinion that these works have no bearing on one’s salvation.  Jesus, however, differs with them in one of His teachings about the judgment (Matt. 25:31-46).

1.     One group in this account inherits the heavenly kingdom (Matt. 25:34).

2.    The other group is told to depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41).

3.     What was the difference in the two groups?  The performance of good works.

a.    The saved did good works (Matt. 25:35-36)

b.    The lost did not do good works (Matt. 25:41-43).


Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlast-ing fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:  for I was a hungered, and ye gave me no meat:  I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:  I was a stranger, and ye took me not in:  naked, and ye clothed me not:  sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.




A.   Any time a person comes across a passage that involves works, deeds, or fruit, he needs to ask himself:  “What kind of works are under discussion?”


B.   There are two kinds of works that do not save.

1.     Works of the Law of Moses

2.    Works that man has devised to save himself

3.     We could add a third, if we included the “works of the flesh” (Eph. 5:19-21).


C.   There are two kinds of works that do save.

1.     Works that God has commanded to be done to save man.

2.    Good works that the Christian is to perform to the glory and honor of God.