"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." ~ 1 Peter 3:15-16

What Must We Do To Be Saved?

Are there any requirements that we must do after we are saved by faith alone, in order to enter heaven? While most believer would readily agree that we are saved by grace through faith alone, apart from works, but why do we so often revert back to doing something in order to enter heaven after affirming that we not saved by doing something?

To those who think that we must do something in order to enter heaven, I would ask the following. If we still need to do something after we are saved, are we then saved in the first place? If truly we are saved but are still required to do something, what then do we need to do? What is the standard or is it enough to just do our best? How should we do it and can we do it?

The great consolation is that we all would agree that fruits should be present after one is saved, no matter which view one subscribes to. This also means that all would agree that we should not live in sins after we are saved, though we would also agree that we may fall into sin at times, and hopefully not too often!

I think the key then, is to understand the relationship between the saving faith and works. We are saved by faith alone but not by faith that is alone. This simply means that when one comes to a saving faith, fruits will follow as a result of the faith (or as evidence for our faith). And that fruits is merely a result of our faith (causation relationship), but not part of the salvation equation. In another word, fruits are not a necessary condition for salvation, but rather a necessary consequence of saving faith.

Remember John 15:1-8? The branch does not bear fruit in order to be connected to the vine. Rather, it bears fruit precisely because it is connected to the vine. So being fruitful is a result of being in Christ, and not a requirement to be in Him. In fact, the real focus is not even on being fruitful (though it is the evidence of our faith), but on being in Christ.

By our own strength we can do nothing, and it is only by being in Him that we may be fruitful. We would all have failed in our strength if being fruitful is truly a requirement for being in Him, just as He said, "(v5) ...apart from me you can do nothing". In fact, this phytology tells us of the preeminence of Christ, His supremacy and our utter dependence on Him. May God grant us the revelation to see the spiritual reality of the indwelling Lord, when He also said "(v5) ...I in them" on a progressive measure.

So what exactly motivates us to be fruitful or do good works? Is it ritualistic or legalism that drives us? Do we do good works because of our fear or the guilt for not doing them? Are we trying to earn and merit our salvation? Is it good enough to do good works, regardless of the attitude?

To those who think that grace is tantamount to a licence to sin or attempting to downplay the seriousness of sins, then Paul may have something to say in Romans 6. Perhaps then, we do not really understand our own depravity and the demand of the Holy Law, and thus missed the Gospel of Grace altogether?

In any case, if your spiritual life happens to feel more like performance than freedom, like an empty ritual rather than a joyful journey, then perhaps Wayne Jacobsen's book here may be of little help to you. Be blessed.