Why did Apostle Paul say in Ephesians 2:8-9, "you have been saved through faith not of works"? Which works is he referring to?
And  where does Church membership come in here?

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'Sola Fides'

Letter to the Editor:
GOD'S MESSAGE, October 2012, p.3

I LEARNED THAT your Church opposes the teaching that faith alone matters in salvation.
Some religions indeed dismiss it as flawed ..... But how can it be faulty when it is the Bible
itself that teaches it? John 3:16 states: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only
begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 substantiates, "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.” Notice the phrase,
"you have been saved through faith not of works”. So where does Church membership
come in here?

"The Believer”
Address withheld upon sender's request

Editor's reply:

If the verses you quoted were the only verses in the Bible, then perhaps faith alone would be
sufficient for salvation. But that is not the case. For instance, the following are also biblical
verses—they are teachings of no less than the Savior Himself also about attaining eternal life
or salvation and becoming His true servant:

"If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” (John 12:26, New King James Version, emphasis ours).

”... The time is coming when all the dead in their graves shall hear the voice of God's Son,
and shall rise again—those who have done good, to eternal life ...” (John 5:28-29, Living
Bible, emphasis ours)

Following Christ and doing good, which the Bible teaches as essential to attain salvation, obviously entail actions or works. So why did Apostle Paul say in Ephesians 2:8-9, "you have been saved through faith not of works"? Which works is he referring to? In chapter 3 of his letter to Titus, Apostle Paul discusses the same topic and clarifies:

”he saved us. It was not because of any good deeds that we ourselves had done, but because of his own mercy that he saved us, through the Holy Spirit, who gives us new birth and new life by washing us (Titus 3:5, Today's English Version).

"Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient; we were misled by others and became
slaves to many evil pleasures and wicked desires. Our lives were full of resentment and
envy. We hated others and they hated us.” (Titus 3:3, LB)

By "works which cannot save", the apostle clearly refers to the "good deeds that we ourselves had done”—something which really will not matter to salvation because no matter how we try to do good, by ourselves, we are just often "misled by others and became slaves to many evil pleasures and wicked desires”.

Disproving further the interpretation that faith alone matters in salvation, Apostle James emphatically expressed:

”What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says ‘he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
. .. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:14, 17, 20, 24, NKIV).

”So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead. You fool! Do you
want to be shown that faith without actions is useless? . . . You see, then, that it is by his actions that a person is put right with God, and not by his faith alone” (lames 2:17, 20, 24, TEV)

So what about membership in the Church Of Christ? Where does it come in? Actually, the verses you quoted (Ephesians 2:8-9 and John 3:16) lay basis to the importance of being
members of the true Church. Christ distinguishes those who truly “believe in God's only be-
gotten Son” and thus ”have been saved through faith”:

”But you don't believe me because you are not part of my flock. My sheep recognize
my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (lohn 10:26-27, LB).

The ”flock” referred to where Christ's sheep or true believers are members of is none other
than the Church Of Christ:

”l'ake heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood" (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation).

Biblically speaking, therefore, one cannot be a true believer of Christ—and thus, could not have received God's gift of salvation—without being a member of the Church Of Christ.

To learn more on God's commandments and good works one should follow in order to attain salvation, we invite you and everyone to attend our worship services and studies on biblical doctrines.


Note: Some cited verses are printed in full to facilitate study.

Bible Study Suggestion: If you have further questions, please feel free to visit the Iglesia ni Cristo congregation nearest you. A minister or an evangelical worker would be happy to answer any biblical question you have in mind. For the latest Worship Service Directory of Iglesia ni Cristo Locales and Congregations outside the Philippines, please visit www.iglesianicristoworshipservice.com or just click link at home page.

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