Are Works Necessary to Gain Heaven?

October 9, 2015

Here is what John Piper says:

“The stunning Christian answer is: sola fide—faith alone. But be sure you hear this carefully and precisely: He says right with God by faith alone, not attain heaven by faith alone. There are other conditions for attaining heaven, but no others for entering a right relationship to God. In fact, one must already be in a right relationship with God by faith alone in order to meet the other conditions.” (Emphasis mine)

This is the age old issue. Really, this is what separates Protestants and Catholics. Are we saved by faith alone though grace alone through Christ alone? The key word is “alone.” Catholics would say we are saved by grace, but there must also be works.

While we are saved by faith alone that faith is not alone, it works. Jesus is clear about things like the necessity of forgiveness. Paul is clear that believers turn from sinful behaviors (1Co 6:9-11). So, would we say that works are necessary for “attaining heaven”?

The quote above is from a forward that Piper wrote for a no doubt great book on justification written by Tom Schreiner. I encourage you to read what Piper wrote. What is fun is that others have weighed in. Mark Jones, who has written a book on antinomianism, expectantly defends Piper. Jordan Cooper, a Lutheran, has also engaged with Piper and Jones. While not uncharitable, he does argue with Piper’s language. Cooper doesn’t disagree with the idea that faith works, however, he thinks that Piper’s verbiage doesn’t clearly communicate the truth of the gospel.

I encourage you to work through both Jones and Cooper. I think they both would agree about the role of works in our salvation. They disagree, however, on how to nuance the truth.

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2 Responses to “Are Works Necessary to Gain Heaven?”

  1. phfs9 Says:

    I understand the necessity to discuss and determine and breakdown all ideas, statements, writings, things and words in the Bible. However, the simple truths are the ones that always seem to strike the Christian chords in me the strongest and the most often. Fact is, if my heart is in the right place everything else seems to fall into proper place according to scripture. Believing in and loving God truly in my heart leads all else to fall into proper place in my life….be it works, forgiveness, or anything else. When I make sinful mistakes I am automatically reminded that my heart is not in the right place. If my belief in God is true then my heart is true then my works and forgiveness is where God wants them to be.


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