John 5:28-29 28"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29and come out-those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. New International Version
John 5:28 - 29
ESV - 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 And come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
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The cited passage is not speaking of being saved through works. (I would say that one could also gather the same mistaken impression indicated in the question through a misunderstanding of Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46).) The works spoken of in both passages are the evidence of pre-existing saving faith, rather than the means by which salvation is achieved. As the Bible makes clear in other passages such as Ephesians 2:8-9, even the faith that saves Christians is not of themselves, but is a gift from God, and adding works to the process in any way would give people grounds for boasting. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, no one can lay any foundation for salvation other than the one that God Himself has laid (that is, faith in Christ). Even if Christians fail to "build" anything on that foundation through their own good works subsequent to being saved through faith, they will still be saved (although Paul likens the salvation of such people to passing through a fire that will consume everything except that foundation, leaving them with no claim to the eternal rewards that God will grant to the redeemed based on their works following salvation).
The apostle James tells us that faith without works is dead, it is no faith at all. James said he would show us that his faith is authentic and genuine by the good deeds that he does. James 2:14-22 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
In John 5:28-29, Jesus talks of two resurrections: "the resurrection of life," and " resurrection of damnation." The two events are separated by the 1000 years (Rev 20:5). God’s people will be raised at the first resurrection (the resurrection of life). Those who rejected God will not be raised until the thousand years are finished, at the second resurrection (the resurrection of damnation.) (Rev 6:15-17; 20:7-12). At the end of time is going to be a judgment and what we did in this life will be analyzed (Eccl 11:9; Matt 10:42; 16:27; 19:17; John 14:21; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 1:17). In this judgment God is not going to excuse sin, no extenuating circumstances will be admitted in this court - we either accepted Christ and all sin is forgiven, or we stand alone to face the record of our sin. However, we are all sinners (Rom 3:23), and no good work can save anyone (Isa 64:6) - only Jesus’ blood can wash away all sinful deeds (1 John 1:7; Rom 4:7) and our names are written in the Book of Life. Malachi 3:16-17 talks about a Book of Remembrance where the faithful acts done by God’s people are being recorded. There is also a Book of Life where the names of the forgiven are written - they are covered by Jesus’ righteousness (Rev 3:5; 17:8; Daniel 12:1; Luke 10:20; Phil 4:3). Only the names recorded in the Book of Life will survive the judgment (Rev 21:27). In Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul explains how the sinner is saved and if we keep reading, we see the purpose of our salvation: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” NIV (Eph 2:10). So, we are saved by grace through faith to do good works. For God’s people, there will be no records of transgression, all sins will be covered, erased - Jesus paid the price or our lawlessness (Isa 43:25). Going back to John 5:28-29, Jesus here is saying that in the judgment the Book of Remembrance will show the good deeds the saved accomplished – they’re not saved because of their good work, but the good work is proof that they are saved (Luke 6:43-49).
John 6:29 Jesus, answered, and said unto them, this is the work of God, that ye believe on the one He has sent. 6:40 And this is the will of Him who sent me, that ALL that seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up on the last day. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, that WHOSOEVER, BELIEVETH in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. Faith alone. Romans 4:5 thru 8. But to the one that worketh not, but believeth on Him who justifieth the ungodly, his FAITH is counted for righteousness. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth righteousness, apart from works. Blessed is the man whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Our sin debt was paid in full by Jesus one blood sacrifice for all our sins, past, present, and future sins we have not even thought of yet. When Jesus said, it is finished, our sin debt was paid in full and when we believe it He imputes His perfect righteousness to us. John 3:18 Believers can no longer be condemned. First Corinthians 15:1-4 That Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, that He was buried and rose again on the third day, according to the scriptures. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, and we all sin, and we all die, but the GIFT of God is ETERNAL LIFE, through Jesus Christ our Lord. You can not boast in free. And we are all still sinners because we can not be made perfect in the flesh. First John 1:8 and 1:10
No, salvation is through faith alone. See Ephesians 2:8-9 See also Romans 3:27-28; Romans 4:1-8; Psalm 32:1-2; Romans 9:30-32; Galatians 3:10-14. The reason Jesus talks about good works here was to say that good works will be rewarded (John 5:28-29 See also Luke 6:35; Romans 2:5-11; Galatians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 6:17-19). Jn 5:29 who have done good, walking in the commandments of God; not because they have done good, as if their goodness had merited any such thing, for eternal life is the gift of God, Romans 6:23. --Matthew Poole Agreeing with Tim Maas, I'll add a similar concept of Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe: "Jesus’ reference to good works in John 5:28-29 is to that which occurs after saving faith. To be saved, one needs the grace of God (Eph. 2:8-9), but authentic faith expresses itself in good works (Eph 2:10)."
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