Will Good Works Save Me?

I was speaking to a non-Christian who had not attended in a long time and he said, "I'm hoping good works will save me." This person certainly is not alone in their wish. Millions harbor the same desire to be saved without any commitment or change in lifestyle. Spending any time with Scripture will show this is certainly wishful thinking. God called us to live for Him through dying to self (Romans 6:1-11).

We ask, "What are good works?" They are considered to be kind deeds done to others. What would this include? How far should this go? If I go to the grocery store and a lady in front of me drops her grocery list and I pick it up for her, have I earned heaven? What if I help a child across the parking lot? Will that earn me heaven? What if I offer to carry someone's case of beer and cigarettes to the car? Will that earn me heaven? What if I go to a crack den and offer to hold the spoons and mix the drugs? Will that earn me heaven? What if I offer to feed the fish while an assassin goes across the country to execute someone? Will that earn me heaven since it is a good deed? What if I offer to sweep up for free at a brothel? Will that good deed earn me heaven? What if I volunteer to keep the supplies ready for satanists to worship Satan? Will that good deed earn me heaven?

My point is that "good deeds" are terribly subjective. Everyone will have their own definitions. There won't be any standard. What if I hold the coats while a Christian is executed in China? Will that good deed earn me heaven? Paul certainly did not think so.

In Acts 7:58, Saul (whose name would later be changed to Paul) held the coats of those who executed Stephen for preaching the gospel. In the next chapter he hunted down Christians and had them executed. Of the entire ordeal he later said he was the chief sinner of all men (1 Timothy 1:15). Paul by no means felt good deeds where going to save him. They won't save us either. If so, there was no point in Jesus coming to this earth to die for our sins.

God could have had a prophet tell us that good deeds will save us and saved millions of martyrs for the Cross. There would have been no use to spend the blood and pain of men getting the Bible into our hands. There would have been no reason to start the church because anyone could do good works without the church.

Jesus said we must do good works toward other men if we will be saved (Matthew 25). But, they are to be extensions of our faith and not in place of it (Ephesians 2:10). In fact, the previous two verses say, "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" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

If we will be saved by good works then we will be lost by bad works. So, do we get merits for good works and demerits for bad works? Does that mean if you help ten old ladies across the street then you can push two down the steps? Won't it just be a mathematical equation? And who decides what are bad works? And what if some decide they are good while others decide they are bad? How do we solve that dilemma? Why didn't God just give us an exhaustive list?

It all becomes very messy. It won't matter though as it is not true anyway. Praise the Lord.

Richard Mansel

Published in The Old Paths Archive