Lately I’ve been contemplating the questions out of the Bible that very few Christians seem to have rational or compelling answers for. At least most of the answers I’ve heard from the pulpit and in books in my lifetime don’t address these questions in a satisfying way. Some of them we skip over because they seem too hard to answer.
This is where I’d like your help. If I was searching for faith, how would you answer me if I brought this question to you? If I was your best friend, stumbling through a hard time in my life, how would you help me make sense out of this seeming Scriptural paradox?
Today’s Million Dollar Question:
Is salvation a free gift or of works?
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph. 2:8-9
Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. …Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. Heb. 4:1,11
You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. James 2:24
So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Doing this, you will never stumble or fall away. And God will open wide the gates of heaven for you to enter into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:10-11
Food for Thought:
Over the past two years, I have learned a Hebrew perspective on Scriptures. Here is the short answer to my question (my beliefs), and if you want more clarification on my views, please feel free to email or post a comment. Please note that I am not saying anybody else is wrong. We are all sharing our perspectives based on our own studies.
Salvation is definitely a FREE GIFT!! I will be dogmatic about that. Paul makes it clear that if we could earn it, Jesus died for nothing.
As to the role of works, this will come as a brand new thought to many. The reason for all the confusion in the NT on works — all those confusing verses, especially passages like Hebrews 4 — they are not about “eternal life” but about the “Millennial Kingdom (MK).” This is a fulfillment of the Mosaic Covenant (back in Exodus). The Mosaic Covenant is a promise of rewards for belief and obedience. You will notice that Jesus and Paul especially, often speak of rewards and prizes. In fact, much of the time when Jesus spoke of the “Kingdom” to the Jews, He was speaking of the MK, not about the eternal Kingdom. That is why Jesus related so many of His “Kingdom teachings” to works.
A picture of this in the OT (there is always an OT picture for any NT teaching) is Joshua and Caleb. Out of millions of Israelites, they were the only two who believed God could and would conquer their enemies in the Promised Land, so they were the only two who got to enter. The PL was NOT a picture of the eternal Kingdom, but the fulfillment of the Mosaic Covenant. That is why only 2 got in — there are very few who finish the race as winners, as Paul admonished.
The “Sabbath Rest” in Hebrews 4 is another name for the MK. This entire chapter is about this future PL. The Millennial Kingdom is patterned after the 7th day of creation, and is a fulfillment of it on a grander scale.
If you want more on this teaching, I have written a study about it. Just request it and I will send it for free. It walks you through step by step with many Scriptures.