Romans 4.13-16 & 6.1-4 – Salvation and works
Posted: 21 August 2010 in Romans

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all.”

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

In the first of the two passages above, Paul is setting forth a well known principle of Christian theology – namely that salvation is by faith through grace. Ever since the fall, all men, without exception, have been guilty of routinely disobeying God’s commandments. Therefore, if works of the Law were the means of salvation, all men would stand condemned, and, furthermore, God’s purposes in bringing his elect to salvation would be frustrated. So salvation instead comes through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

However, whenever that principle is enunciated, the objection is soon heard that it amounts to antinomianism – the heresy that says we can do as we like, disobey God, and lead a generally immoral life, because after all, the elect are going to be saved anyway.

The reason that objection doesn’t hold water lies in the nature of saving faith. Any genuine bestowal of grace works a change in the heart, and brings about a real desire to work for God’s praise and glory. This desire is not now a self obsessed attempt to work our own salvation through works, but it is, instead, the result of the Holy Spirit working in us to turn our stubborn heart towards God.

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