I think we start from this point:

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

John 14:6, KJV.

We will also want to work with the fact that Jesus Christ and the Father are one. If you address the one the other is included automatically:

“Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake [Christ’s work on earth].”

John 14:11, KJV.

Next, I propose that it is our ultimate goal as Christians to be with our Father in Heaven. Given our fallen, sinful state, this requires help from the Christ, an act called salvation. The New Testament (NT) has a lot to say about salvation but the various Christian sects or churches try and reduce it to a single principle, often creating confusion and division in the process.

I’ve decided to resolve the issue for myself. Here are the various components of salvation gleaned as I am reading through the NT. All are necessary but are any sufficient, meaning a means to salvation alone?

The Necessity Of Belief

Belief in Jesus and belief on God (the Greek uses the same word for the prepositions “in” and “on”) is a necessary condition for salvation. In these passages from Mark and John we are told that belief is a necessary condition. Baptism is also a necessary condition. Further, it is not only baptism by water but also by the Spirit.

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

Mark 16:16, KJV.

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

John 3:5, KJV.

Baptism of the Spirit happens when we invite Christ, through faith, into our lives.

True belief comes unto us through a gift of grace (Acts 18:27). In fact Paul describes salvation itself as a gift of grace:

“But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

Acts 15:11, KJV.

The importance of belief is laid out by John in several passages which say that belief in Him (Christ) or God who sent Him (Christ) would be saved.

“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.”1

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”2

“And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”3

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”4

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”5

John 6:401, 6:472, 11:263, 3:364, and 5:245, KJV.

But belief as Christ uses it has a rather deep understanding. It is not a one-time event that you execute and you’re fixed for life. Rather it has an implication which you must fulfill. The third passage from John above gives a hint of its nature. We must “live” in Christ, something that wonderful passage from Revelation describes.

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

Revelation 3:20, KJV.

Other similar passages are:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

Romans 1:16, KJV/

“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

Acts 16:31, KJV.

Further, there is only one name, the belief on which comes salvation and that is Jesus Christ. This creates a problem for all other religions.

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Acts 4:12, KJV.

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Romans 10:9, KJV.

And the name of Christ is sufficient.

“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Acts 2:21, KJV.

When we truly believe in Christ, we open that door. It might be a transforming experience or a seeming non-event. But the step once taken means that Christ is within us. It is then that our job is to nurture that small seed by beginning to clear all from our life that may inhibit its growth.

31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:

32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Matthew 13:31-32, KJV.

In other words, just as Christ is in God and God is in Christ, when we truly believe, Christ is in us and we live in Christ. However, this state requires something on our part: that we do the will, the works of the Father. This is accomplished by the transformation of our belief through grace into faith.

The Role of Faith in Belief

Although the two words seem similar they have a subtle difference that is important. In short, faith is belief transformed into action. This point is discussed in What Is the Difference between Faith and Belief?

A good example of faith in action is found in Matthew 9:20-22 (also Luke 7:50) where a woman, believing that Jesus could heal her, touched his garment and was healed. Whereupon Jesus told her “your faith hath made thee whole”. It was not the belief alone that healed her, otherwise she would not have had to act and touch him. It was her belief with the action upon it that caused her to be healed.

6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God [grace]:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:6-10, KJV.

Verses 9 and 10 are key to a scriptural error found in Protestantism on salvation. Verse 9 says that the works of man account for nothing. Verse 10, however states that in the transforming act of belief in Christ we are to do good works that God has ordained for each of us. As James notes:

“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”

James 2:17, KJV.

“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

James 2:24, KJV.

In Romans Chapter 4, Paul discusses the role of faith in the imputation of righteousness to us. But before we get to a discussion of righteousness we will look further in the next section into the necessity of works for salvation.

The Role Of Works

Our works are those things that we do. It is important to distinguish works that are considered “good” but are of man, and those which are good and are ordained by God (Ephesians 2:10). An example of the former would be a gift to a University or medical charity. A gift of the latter is necessarily personal but might be helping a family buy their groceries this week.

Works of man are of no value before God but works that are done by the law that is written in our hearts and by the Holy Spirit are accounted to us. Paul further explains the importance of works done under the law in Romans 2:10-16.

“But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

John 3:21, KLV.

Good works are expected of us and are arguably essential:

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16, KJV.

In deed Matthew chapters 5-7 lay out the behaviour, hence works, expected of the Christian. Chapter 7:21 in particular states that doing God’s will which implicitly includes works, is a requirement to enter the kingdom of heaven.

“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.”

Matthew 7:21, KJV.

Works do follow us:

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”

Revelation 14:13,KJV.

The final judgment by Christ is described in Matthew 25:14-46. At the end time, all souls will be judged by their works, not works done under the Old Covenant law, but for works done under the New Covenant law (Matthew 22:37-40). This decision whether a soul goes to heaven or hell is based on their good works (or lack thereof). This is laid out very explicitly in Matthew 25:14-45. I would suggest that the righteousness referred to in verse 37 is that of those who were justified by faith but failed to live a life in Jesus under the law of the New Covenant.

37 “Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?”

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

Matthew 25:37, 40, 45, KJV.

“And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”

John 5:29, KJV.

It is also clear that we shall be judged of our works:

“And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:”

1 Peter 1:17, KJV.

So the works of man cannot save us but belief with a life without Godly ordained works is empty and may not save us either.

The Role Of Justification and Righteousness

It is important to understand the meaning of justification and righteousness as used in the biblical sense since the modern usage is different. The site, Bible Gateway, has a very good explanation of justification and an extensive discussion on its use although, as it notes, outside of Paul in the Book of Romans, it appears very few other places in the bible.

JUSTIFICATION (δικαίωσις, G1470, justification; δικαιοῦν, to justify). In Christian theology justification is that act of God by which the sinner, who is responsible for his guilt and is under condemnation but believes in Christ, is pronounced just and righteous, or acquitted, by God the judge (Rom 3:28; 4:25; 5:16, 18; 8:28-34). In the Scriptures God justifies by grace, for Christ’s sake, through faith.

Bible Gateway

Although justification is just one element of the process of salvation, its apparent centrality to some Christian sects may lead you to seek a greater understanding of it. To this end, here are a couple of other references: What is justification?, Why is justification by faith such an important doctrine?, and What is justification according to the Bible? These references, however, convey what I consider to be a myopic view of salvation. It should be a bit of a red flag that it is a doctrine that Christ did not teach in the Gospels as the means to salvation.

In short we might describe justification as the imputation by grace of righteousness to a person. We see that righteousness is required of us.

“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:20, KJV.

Of justification, in Romans 2, Paul makes clear that we are justified according to our good works under the law:

10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

13 For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

Romans 2, KJV.

Verse 13 requires some explanation because it appears to contradict 3:28 that says: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Gill’s exposition gives us some interesting insight:

for the law is spiritual, and regards the inward as well as the outward man, and requires internal holiness, as well as external obedience; and the apostle is speaking of justification before God, who sees the heart, and not before men, who judge according to outward appearance: nor are such designed who are imperfect doers of the law; for the law requires a perfect obedience, and what is not perfect is not properly righteousness; nor does it, nor can it consider an imperfect righteousness as a perfect one;

Gill’s exposition

So the problem is no man can be a perfect doer of the law in all cases as was Christ. However, we can do good of God and such action is accounted to us as righteousness or justification.

Romans 3:20-31 is Paul’s great treatise on justification by faith above works. Justification itself is generally not part of the teaching of either Christ or the other apostles although Matthew mentions it briefly:

For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Matthew 12:34, KJV.

And of course we have justification by faith:

“But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.”1

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.2

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.”3

Galatians 3:111, 3:242, and 2.163, KJV.

Galatians 3 explains why works under the old law cannot be justified when done according to the law. The law was given through Moses to the Jews who were living in sin that they might know their sin and rise above them. Yet their sin remained with them such that no man could be righteous in God’s eyes. Only Christ was without sin and could be accorded righteousness by God. I’ll extend this line of thinking in the summary at the end.

One other aspect of a life given to Christ is that of sanctification or holiness (read What is sanctification? What is the definition of Christian sanctification?). This is a short discourse on sanctification which for us is an act of grace in part and a lifetime of good work on our part according to God’s purpose for us individually, works that are justified to us.


Christ died for all men (1 John 2:2) and from the righteousness received from God through his death (for all men) on the cross, his righteousness is bestowed upon all men who accept him by belief and faith.

Other Constraints

Blasphemy against God or Christ may be forgiven. The only blasphemy that cannot and will not be forgiven is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. In other words, even though you attain salvation by faith or any other means, it can be thrown away by some blasphemous act against the Holy Spirit.

“And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.”

Luke 12:10, KJV.

Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

Matthew 12:31`, KJV.

“But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:”

Mark 3:29, KJV.

Also, those who are justified by faith into Christ and return to a life based on the law and not the direction of the Holy Spirit through Christ, may become fallen from grace and presumably salvation:

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Galatians 5:4, KJV,

By wilfully remaining in or returning to sin, we can throw away our salvation: Hebrews 10:26, 2 Peter 2:21, and Luke 9:62. As John tells us:

“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”

2 John 1:9, KJV.

When we do sin in our new life – and we all will, not yet being perfected, – repentance, along with the intention to sin no more is the necessary response.

“I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

Luke 13:5, KJV.

Finally, the state of our heart is critical for salvation. We must accept Christ in our belief and faith as would a little child.

“Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”

Luke 18:17, KJV.


With Christ came a New Covenant that subsumed the Old Covenant or law of Moses. The New Covenant is that all who by an act of Grace believe in Jesus Christ shall have eternal life. They are instantaneously justified or made righteous in God’s eyes through Christ’s righteousness which is accorded to us as our sins are forgiven.

That is only the start, however. For those of us who are now living in Christ and He in us, we are expected to live by the law that Christ gave us:

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 22:37-40, KJV.

We are cleansed of sin at the moment of Grace but remain sinners plagued by a sinful nature. We are committed to a life in Christ doing the good works ordained to each of us by God and revealed by the Holy Spirit. We fall, but with Christ’s help we pick ourselves up, repent of our sin, are forgiven, and strive to do better next time. Our successes, our good works under the New Covenant, are accorded to us as righteousness.

Be faithful to Christ and do not turn away lest you throw away your righteousness and salvation. For he who has gained salvation and does the works of the world but not those works ordained by God may still be saved but he will not gain the gifts in heaven that were his to be by doing God’s good works. There are enough admonitions that I would not take a chance on this.

“If any man’s work shall be burned [by the final judgment by fire], he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

1 Corinthians 3:15, KJV.

A Modern Day Parable

A piece of paper blew in front of a homeless man living on the street. He picked it up and found that it was a lottery ticket. He took it into a nearby store and found that it was a winning ticket for a million dollars. Before he called the lottery corporation to collect his winnings he decide to take time to think about how he would spend this new wealth. Some time later the man died in an accident, still a pauper. In his pocket was found the lottery ticket that he had failed to collect on.

Lest anyone think that salvation is a lottery, I will explain the parable. Living on the street means that the man was living totally in the world with no time for God or religion. In that sense he was spiritually poor. The lottery ticket represents Christ’s gift to all mankind of salvation through the forgiveness of all our sins. The man was aware of this gift from the Gospels but had put it aside to consider while he continued living as he was. What he never did before he died shortly after in an accident was to go to the author of the gift, Christ himself, to claim his reward. He died unexpectedly and unsaved.

This is your lottery ticket. But your sins are not forgiven until you cash in the ticket. Christ issued winning tickets to all men. Not all men will try and cash their ticket before they die. When you stand before Christ under judgment, not having cashed your ticket, he will say “I never knew you (Matthew 7:23); depart from me”.


A Personal Testimony of Belief by Grace

As a young man, I chose to make a retreat to an Anglican monastery in Ontario, Canada. In the morning, I was alone in the chapel praying. I was struggling with the very scripture that I opened this article with. I was asking God to understand who was this person who claimed to be the only way to God? It was such an arrogant claim that any man should make. How dare he?

Then the miracle happened. There was no vision or apparition, no external or internal event to announce that God was about to act. It was simply like flipping a light switch. Instantaneously I knew that Jesus was correct with all doubt gone. There was no argument to persuade me, no long conversation. One moment I didn’t understand. The next moment I knew implicitly the truth of whom Jesus was.

The world continued on as if nothing happened. I, by an act of Grace from God was changed forever.

Articles in This Series

Refer to the series index in Notes on a Spiritual Journey.


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I started a blog in 2011 called The POOG, an acronym for "pissed off old guy". This is the current incarnation.


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