Define Vague Terms

This originally appeared as an email delivered on
Saturday, July 22nd, 2017.

During a conversation at the fair the man agreed with salvation by grace not works. I knew to wait til the other shoe dropped.

“…but, you must do good works to PROVE you are a Christian.”


If you talk to many people about the gospel of grace you will inevitably get this response: works do not earn salvation, but you must have them to prove your salvation.

While this old bromide sounds reasonable, it is guilty of changing definitions in mid-sentence.

Listen to it again when the definitions remain the same.

Salvation is by grace without your works, but you must do works to prove you are saved by grace without your works.

Now the problem is glaringly apparent. How can your works prove it is not your works that save you?

The only proof of salvation by grace without your works is a testimony of trusting Christ’s finished work alone. Without Christ, without the cross, without the resurrection, without faith there is no salvation.

People who give lip-service to grace will slip your works into the meaning of “salvation” or “Christian”, because everyone knows that Christians should do good works (Eph 2:10) and it allows them to challenge the salvation of anyone who is not doing enough.

The person you are talking to has a different definition of what it means to be a Christian or to be saved than you do.

To help make them see, replace the word “Christian” or “salvation” in your conversation with the proper definition. Works (what you do) and grace (what someone else does on your behalf) are contradictory (Rom 11:6).

Don’t assume someone is saved (trusting Christ’s work alone) because they use the same terms. They may define them differently.

Don’t let undefined terms keep someone from being saved by grace without works. Define the terms, then use the definitions when you talk to them.

For His glory and grace,

Justin saved Christ did it all for me” Johnson

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