Hi to all my Forum Friends,
In the Religion Forum discussion titled "Premillennialist Folly" a Roman Catholic Friend asks:
If bad works could lead you to Hell -- why can't good works help you into Heaven?
First, bad works are NOT what earns a person a berth in hell. That honor is ONLY for those who deny Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior -- and refuse His "paid in full" gift of eternal life, a gift which is available to all people. But, a person must make a definite choice between heaven and hell.
And, the second part of your question: "why can't good works help you into Heaven?"
Well, the main reason is because God tells us, in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."
Then, a Forum Friend who constantly disagrees with the Bible offers this in rebuttal to my answer above:
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
I doubt God considers street-corner preaching of heresy, lies, and hypocrisy to be works.
My Friend, let's try to clear the air since you don't seem too sure about the location of the Scripture passage you quoted. It is from James 2 -- and the apostle Paul begins this passage with a rhetorical question in verse 14 -- and then gives the obvious answer in verse 17:
James 2:14-17, "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? (15) If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, (16) and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? (17) Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."
Notice that Paul teaches that the "faith" is dead -- but says nothing about the person's salvation. In other words, a Christian believer who has been given the blessed gift of eternal life, "paid in full" by the precious blood of Jesus Christ -- and who does not love Jesus Christ enough to do good works, good deeds, in His name -- that "faith" is dead.
But, that person still has the gift of eternal life purchased for him/her by Christ . What kind of Savior would He be if He gave a gift -- and then took it back?
Works are the "result" of our salvation -- not the "cause" of our salvation!
And, Paul clarifies that teaching in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15:
1 Corinthians 3:10-15, "According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it [the house we call our salvation]. (11) For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, - wood, hay, straw, (13) each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire [Refiner's Fire, Malachi 3:1-2]; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. (14) If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. (15) If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss [of rewards in heaven, i.e., Believers' Judgment]; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire."
I believe we can see how these two Scripture passages complement one another. Faith, i.e., salvation -- without good works to follow -- is dead (James 2:17). When the believer stands before Christ at the Believers' Judgment -- those "good works which follow salvation" will be tested as by fire. The works may burn up -- but the believer is saved (1 Corinthians 3:15).
My Friend, I pray this clarifies for you the position of salvation and works in the life of a Christian believer.
God bless, have a wonderful, blessed day,