By Eric Johnson
A false stereotype some may have about Evangelical Christianity is that good works are not important. Hence, it is thought by those outside Christianity that all a person needs to do is walk down a church aisle, say a little prayer, and presto, salvation is secure and a person can now live like hell. After all, if salvation is free, why would good works even be necessary? Please toss this mistaken idea out the door. I have never heard this message preached at any church I’ve visited. It is true that salvation comes by grace through faith and that this does not come by works. (See Eph. 2:8-9.) This is what is known as justification, which is being presented to God as if sin was never an issue. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, a person becomes a new creation in Christ where old things pass away and all things become new. The believer is given a new nature and becomes “born again,” something not conjured up through a person’s good works. Yet verse 10 says that the believer is “God’s workmanship,” created by Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared from the very foundation of the world. And James 2:14-26 says that faith without works is dead. These good works are part of what we call sanctification. As Philippians 2:12 says, Christians are to work “out” (not work “for”) their salvation with fear and trembling. Good works are the fruit of a true salvation; while they are not what a person does to cause justification, it certainly plays a major role in sanctification and proving the new birth to be genuine.