Following are a list of verses sent to me for explanation. The person sending the verses said he was confused by the doctrinal conflict between “once saved always saved” and “works for salvation.”
Wrested Verse 1: Philippians:2:12, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
A: This “working out your own salvation” is not about obtaining salvation but rather manifesting the salvation you already have. As for obtaining salvation, consider the following verses:
Romans 3:28, Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Romans 4:2, For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
Romans 4:5, But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Romans 4:6, Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Galatians 2:16, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Galatians 3:11, But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
Wrested Verse 2: Romans 5:9, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
A: Paul is reasoning here that if God helped us while we were yet sinners and enemies (v. 8), how much more then we can expect Him to be there when we need Him at the end of physical life. This is the argument for eternal security.
Wrested Verse 3: Matthew 7:21, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
A: Verses 22-23 show that the problem was that these people were relying on their good works to be saved: Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
As for doing the will of the Father, Jesus said in John 6:40, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Wrested Verse 4: James:2:14, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”
A: James is challenging lip service here. True, saving faith in God results in evidence of works. Thus, the works are because of faith and salvation, not in order to gain faith and to be saved. The rest of the passage shows that the works are to prove to men (James 2:18) not to God that you have saving faith. Abraham is the example used in James 2:24. However, Romans 4:2 explains that the justification Abraham had with God was not by works: “For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.” Abraham was justified in the eyes of God by believing without works, and in the eyes of men by his works.
Wrested Verse 5: First Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
A: Our labor in the Lord in not in vain because the Lord acknowledges all that we do for Him. This has nothing to do with our salvation.
In light of the above Scriptures that I cited on how salvation is not by works, it is evident that interpreting questionable verses, such as those being asked about creates contradiction in the Bible. This exposes the false doctrine that works are necessary for salvation.
Wrested Verse 6: First Corinthians 9:27, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
A: Being a castaway refers to being rejected as a credible witness to men. This is not referring to being cast away from God to hell.
Wrested Verse 7: First Timothy 4:1, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;”
A: It is possible for Christians to return to a carnal lifestyle. This is why Paul warns of being chastised by the Lord (Hebrews 12:6) and of suffering loss (1Cor 3:15). Note that the judgment of Christians in 1Cor 3:15 does not result in loss of salvation: “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” It is possible for Christians to be dull of hearing (Hebrews 5:11), carnal (1Corinthians 3:1, 3), and even forget they were once purged of their sins (2Peter 1:9).
Wrested Verse 8: Second Timothy 2:11, “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:”
A: We are dead in Christ when we repent of our sins, die to ourselves, and believe in Christ. This is salvation without works.
Wrested Verse 9: Second Timothy 2:12, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:”
A: This is why salvation requires believing in Christ and accepting Him. Once you are saved, you have a new inward man that cannot and will not deny Christ ever again thereby securing your salvation forever: Romans 7:22, “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:”
Wrested Verse 10: Second Timothy 2:13, “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”
A: Nor will our inward man: see Romans 7:22 & 1John 3:9
Wrested Verse 11: Herews 6:4-12
A: Hebrews 6:3 is the key to understanding what is being talked about. Going on unto perfection, maturity, and spiritual understanding is the issue not salvation. Christians must repent of doing wrong also. But this is not for salvation. Thus, continuing to learn of the “meat” of the word is a privilege not a right. This has nothing to do with salvation.
Wrested Verse 12: Second Peter 2:20-23, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”
A: This refers to the life and judgment of carnal Christians. Instead of improving life in Christ and gaining heavenly rewards, a wayward Christian will be chastised of the Lord (Hebrews 12:5-8) and will suffer loss of reward (1Corinthians 3:11-15). Under these conditions, a Christian is better off at the beginning of his Christian life before being chastised than after returning to his old ways under the chastisement of the Lord. Likewise, a Christian’s initial gain of inheritance is better than the loss he will suffer for returning to a sinful life. Obviously, the loss is bad, but First Corinthians 3:15 reassures that the loss will not include one’s salvation.
Wrested Verse 13: Philippians 3:14, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
A: This has nothing to do with salvation. This is analogous to a runner saying he presses toward the finish line. Obviously, he is running to win the race and to do well, not in order to be a runner. Likewise, Christians run their race to do well not to be saved.