Salvation Then Works
April 3, 2003 • By Ed Wrather
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. - Ephesians 2:8-10.
Marine Lance Cpl. Jose A. Gutierrez of Lomita, California was a “green card soldier” who had volunteered to fight for his adopted country. Sadly, Cpl. Gutierrez died during the first three days of the Iraq war in 2003. The United States has now granted posthumous citizenship to Cpl. Gutierrez who was from Guatemala where he was orphaned as a young boy. He entered the U.S. illegally in 1997. Why would someone not even a citizen join the Marines? According to Gutierrez’ foster brother, Gutierrez joined the Marines “to pay back a little of what he’d gotten from the United States.” There are now (2003) 37,000 non-citizens serving in the armed forces of the U. S.
The Bible makes it clear that you cannot be good enough or do enough good things to make you worthy for Heaven. Why? The Bible says in effect that if we could do that then we would all be boasting about all the good things we had done when we arrived in Heaven - “it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Why then would anyone want to do good works as a Christian if it does not save you or work to facilitate your entrance into Heaven? It is much like the story of Lance Cpl. Jose A. Gutierrez. Gutierrez was not serving in the United States Marines because he was compelled or because of a legal obligation. Gutierrez was serving in the Marine Corps because of his great gratitude for what the United States had done for him - “to pay back a little of what he’d gotten from the United States.”
After receiving freely, the gift of eternal life from our God through Jesus and being adopted into the family of God with all of the privileges of belonging to the royal family of the King of kings we feel great gratitude. As a result of that great gratitude of the unmerited favor we have been granted - good works begin to flow out of our lives. We have a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17) that desires to please our Lord. It is not forced labor. Instead, it is a labor of great love and gratitude for the sacrifice of our Lord that resulted in our salvation.
Have you been trying to work your way to Heaven? It will never happen. Have you been trying to do more good things than bad things so the scales will tilt in your favor bringing you salvation? You have been deceived. Turn to the Lord Jesus and receive the free gift of salvation and then do your good works out of the great gratitude for His wondrous mercy toward you.