What does the Bible teach about salvation? (Leader’s notes)

1.    What does this verse teach about salvation?

Eph 2:8-9  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God– not because of works, lest any man should boast.

Leader’s Notes: We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere “to the end” and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. (Source: Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1821)

2.    What do you understand by the word grace?

The following verses may help us to understand what grace is not.

Rom 11:6  But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

Rom 4:4-5  Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (KJV)

If grace is not that, then what is grace?

Leader’s Notes: Grace is something we receive but did not deserve it. If we have to work, what is due to us is our entitlement, our wages and it is no longer grace.

3.    What do you understand by the word works?

Eph 2:8-9  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God– not because of works, lest any man should boast.

Tit 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 (KJV)

4.    Why must salvation be through faith and not works?

Rom 3: 22-24 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Isa 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. (KJV)

Leader’s Notes: Righteousness cannot save us because no one’s righteousness is sufficient to meet God’s standard.

5.    Why do Paul and James seem to contradict each other on whether faith alone without works is sufficient to save us?

Eph 2:8  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God– not because of works, lest any man should boast.

Jam 2:14  What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?

Since the Bible cannot contradict itself, how do we reconcile these two seemingly contradictory statements?

Leader’s Notes: Since Paul and James cannot be contradicting each other, we must conclude that the words used by them are the same but refer to different things. Paul says that faith alone can save us and James says that it can’t. Therefore, the faith that Paul talks about must be different from the faith that James talks about. In fact, Paul is referring to genuine faith, which can save us. James is talking about phoney faith, which cannot save us.

Jam 2:14-16  What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food,  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?

The person that James uses in his example says he has faith. Does he really have genuine faith? He then goes on to give an example of a person who seems to show concern by what he says but he does not lift a finger to help. Does this person really have genuine concern?

Another term that looks the same but mean different thing is works. When Paul says that works does not save us, he is referring to good works. But when James says faith must be accompanied by works, he is referring to consistent actions. In fact, some versions translated the word as actions.

James 2:17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (NIV)

So James is actually saying that genuine faith will always have consistent actions to back it up. In the absence of consistent actions, that faith is phoney or dead.

6.    If salvation is by faith, why did the Bible say that Abraham was justified by works?

Jam 2:21  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?

Answer is in the following verse:

Jam 2:22  You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works.

Leader’s Notes: Abraham was justified by works because his consistent action of offering his son Isaac demonstrated his genuine faith. Interestingly after James says that Abraham was justified by works, he quoted Gen 15:6 in James 2:23 which brings us to the first instance when God pronounced Abraham as righteous for believing in His promise that he would have many descendants. This is because he wanted us to know that Abraham was pronounced righteous long before (in fact 40 years) before he even offered Isaac on the altar. His offering of Isaac was however the action that demonstrated that God was right after all – that Abraham’s faith was genuine.

7.    Does relying on faith to save us mean that we are not interested in doing good?

John 14:15″If you love me, you will obey what I command.

Leader’s Notes: Not at all. But the motivation to do good is different. We don’t do good because we believe we can earn our salvation. We do good because we love God and do not want to violate His moral principles.

8.    If a person be saved and yet not have the slightest evidence of moral uprightness in his life?

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Leader’s Notes: It is not possible to have experienced salvation and not have the slightest positive change in our life. Yet we understand that the process of positive transformation may be slower in some people and quicker in others.

2 Cor 3:18 All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory. (GNB)

9.    Whose righteousness do we rely on to save us?

Rom 5: 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

(1 Cor 1:30 NIV)  It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

10. Can we rely on another person’s righteousness to save us?

Rom 3: 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one.

Isa 64: 6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

Ps 49: 7-9 No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him- the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough- that he should live on forever and not see decay.

Leader’s Notes: Other than the righteousness of Jesus, we cannot appropriate the righteousness of anyone else on ourselves. This is because no one else is righteous. This is contrary to what the Catholic Church teaches.

947 “Since all the faithful form one body, the good of each is communicated to the others…. We must therefore believe that there exists a communion of goods in the Church.

11. Is it possible for one to lose his salvation?

According to this verse, we are saved through what?

Eph 2:8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.

If faith is the key to salvation, how could we lose this salvation?

Leader’s Notes: Since faith is the key to salvation, we can lose our salvation if we lose the faith that we once had in Jesus to save us.

1Jo 5:13 (ALT)  These things I wrote to you*, the ones believing [or, trusting] in the name of the Son of God, so that you* shall know that you* have eternal life, and so that you* shall be believing [or, shall continue believing] in the name of the Son of God.

12. Does the Bible teach that we can lose our salvation through repeated sinning?

Do the verses below teach that we can lose our salvation through sinning?

Heb 10:26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

Leader’s Notes: From the context, we can see that the “sinning” that the verses refer to are the sins of rejecting Jesus and his redemptive work on the cross. This is tantamount to losing faith in Jesus altogether and therefore results in the loss of salvation.