Saved by Grace- Judged by Works?

For as long as I can recall there has always been this tug-of-war between grace and works.

Someone will proclaim that we are saved by grace, only to hear, yea, but what about good works? Someone else will emphasize the need to obey and do the will of God, only to be cautioned that we cannot earn heaven.

So which is it?

We are saved by grace. To that there is no doubt. If you are not convinced just read Ephesains 2:8-10.

But yet it seems we are going to be judged by works. The great judgment picture that Christ paints in Matthew 25:31-46 indicates that, as does his words in Matthew 7:21-23. Then there is Paul’s plain statement of this fact in 2nd Corinthians 5:10.

So, are we saved by grace and yet judged by works?

P.S. I added a pic of Mother Teresa because in my lifetime I have not known of anyone who sacrificed more and worked harder in the name of Jesus.


17 Responses to Saved by Grace- Judged by Works?

  1. lesjr says:

    That’s a great question, Danny. So answer it for us…

    Seriously, we are saved by grace. And yet, God has gracioulsy provided kingdom work for us to do. Here’s my question: if I ignore the work placed before, have I trampled grace and thrown it away?

    Les, Jr

  2. dannydodd says:

    Another good question Les.

    And I am seeking answers from you! 🙂

  3. alsturgeon says:

    I like C.S. Lewis’ answer: this is like arguing over which blade on a pair of scissors is more important.

    Seriously, I think we have a warped view of salvation. We’re still dealing with buying fire (read: hell) insurance instead of “saving” people in the here and now – being saved from the world we live in. We’re saved by the grace of God from a hopeless way of life by way of love. Continuing to live the hopeless way is simply ludicrous (Romans 6). Doesn’t even make sense. As James said, one w/o the other doesn’t exist (in his words, “is dead”).

    Me thinks our biggest problem lies in the realization that the Gospel/Kingdom concerns a way of life NOW instead of what happens after we die.

  4. Royce Ogle says:

    Paul’s reference is clearly directed to believers who will stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ to give an accounting of our works. This will not be for salvation but for rewards and places of service in God’s eternal kingdom.

    The lost will appear at the Great White Throne judgement and also give an account for deeds done. And even they are not damned because of those deeds. “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelations 20) Many scholors believe there will be degrees of punishment in eternity future for those who reject Christ.

    Jesus made one thing clear. Those who have Him will not be condemned and those who do not have Him are condemned already, they don’t have to wait for condemnation.(John 3:18) The divide between life and death is what one has done about the revelation God has given Him. Those who embrace the light and come to it are saved and those who hide in the darkness and reject the light are already lost.

    Grace and Peace,
    Royce Ogle

  5. That Girl says:

    That’s why I read your blog… for answers – and now YOU’RE the one asking the questions.

    Obviously, we’re saved by grace and there are a lot of things that God has asked me to do. I know that obedience is a huge part of love and service never hurt anyone… well…?

  6. benoverby says:


    To be direct, yes, we are saved by grace and, yes, we are judged by works. We’re saved by grace alone by faith alone but our faith is NEVER EVER ALONE. The best illustration for this is Solomon and the two prostitutes. He commands the baby to be split in half and the real mother responds sacrificially. What was Solomon looking for? Evidence of relationship. Evidence. That’s what springs out of our faith and it will be, as was the case with the real mother, our vindication. The real mother didn’t earn her child before the judgment seat of Solomon. She simply acted out of love. The judge rewarded her accordingly. She had no room to boast in the grace she received. When we appear before the King we will have to give an account of our lives. He’ll be looking for evidence of our relationship with Him. If we’ve been trusting Him, then His Spirit will have produced much fruit in our lives, we will know the king intimately, and we will be vindicated. Others, who’ve perhaps done lots of great things but not produced vibrant fruit of real relationship will not even be recognized by the King.

    The fact is, we had better take our “works” seriously.

  7. gkirkendall says:

    Mark Twain said that when you arrive at the Pearly Gates, do not bring a dog. For “Heaven goesby favor. If it were by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”

  8. dannydodd says:

    Interesting comments all. Ben answered the question most directly and Royce offered a little different twist. (Royce I would be interested in reading in more detail your ideas on this).

    As for my answer- to me there is little doubt that grace and works are partners. Grace saves and allows us to enter into a “sonship” relationship with the Father. Works are a result of that relationship, that is, as we learn more about the Father we naturally begin to take upon ourselves his will and characteristics- those modeled in the life of our elder brother, Jesus. We begin to value what heaven values and do what heaven desires. Doing the will of God becomes a part of us. Doing then never becomes burdensome. Actually doing becomes a matter of grace on our part towards others.

    So when judgment does arrive, God will hold us accountable for what we have done with the grace he has given us. Have we shared it by offering a cup of water to the thirsty or visiting those in prison or by ministering to the sick?

    At least that is how I see it.

  9. Donna says:

    Good post and discussion. I think we are saved by grace, for who among us deserves to be saved really? But our works are the result of the Spirit that lives inside of us. To refuse to work would be quenching the Holy Spirit of God. Not, that it will save us, but because we are saved we let the Spirit lead us into a life filled with service to others.

  10. dannydodd says:

    Well said Donna- brief too, not like us preachers! lol

  11. Dee Andrews says:

    I really like this line of yours, Danny:

    “Actually doing becomes a matter of grace on our part towards others.”

    In fact, that kind of thinking is exactly why I started the Grace Notes blog! Exactly!

    That is also how I have come to see my own life, which has been lived as a Christian for my entire life and as a baptized believer for more than 50 years now. I consider all I try to do for others to be a direct reflection of the grace that has been shown me by the Father, so how can I not share that gift with everyone else?

  12. teresa lewis says:

    “Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone!”

    (Lucky me!)

  13. dannydodd says:

    Preach on sisters!

  14. Tammie says:

    This comment has nothing to so with this post but I wanted to say Hi to Danny and what a small world it is…I found your blog on Matt Dadd’s blog with whom I when to HUGSR. His wife, Missy, and I got our counseling degrees about the same time and we knew a lot of the same people from Harding (of course, I knew the parents – they knew their kids or had the parents as teachers). You know that Diana has sold her house in Indianola and now lives outside Corinth. Mama and Mutt have moved up there too. Mama had her gall bladder out today. Everyoe is there with her except me…I’m laying on the couch with a back injury from a wreck a couple of weeks ago but I’ll be fine-I’m just milking it for all it’s worth. Come to see us in Bartlett sometimes!

  15. dannydodd says:

    Great to hear from Tammie! I did know about Diana’s move to be near your mom and Mutt. Please give them all my love!

  16. Royce Ogle says:

    I fear that some of us have completely missed what Christ has done for us. 1 Corinthians 30-31 states it well. “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”

    Christ does not give us a new shot at becoming righteous, He is our righteousness. If you have missed this you have missed the Biblical doctrine of justification. Just as Abraham was declared righteous (Romans 4) we to are declared righteous when we trust Christ based completely upon His merit and work and not our own.

    Do we work? We are created to do just that (Ephesians 2) but we don’t do what we do to gain salvation, or to keep it, we simply could never do enough. What wicked sinners need is a new heart, not a new start, and that is what God gives.

    Grace to you,
    Royce Ogle

  17. I tgged you…now it’s time for a fun post!

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