Are Christian’s saved by faith or by works?
If you ever want to see an ecumenical meeting erupt into the theological equivalent of a West Texas cage fight (aka session of UK Parliament), then toss this question out for discussion.
Once long ago, I took out a concordance and I made a list of all the things that I found in the Bible which “saves” us. Here’s a sample from just the New Testament:
human testimony (about Jesus)
a message (about Jesus)
handing over to Satan (didn’t see that one coming did you?)
childbearing (still haven’t heard a good explanation of that one!)
Yes, I know that piling up verses in which the word “save” appears in one form or other is not a good way to do biblical exposition, however the point is not to nail down a single answer. The point is this: since all of these saving actions/agents are mentioned in the Word of God, there is a way in which they all save us. As someone said before, Peter does not trump Paul. When Peter says that we are saved by baptism, he is not contradicting Paul when Paul says we’re saved by grace through faith. They are both apostles of Jesus and they are both right. When Jesus says that we save our lives by losing them, he’s right too. When Peter tells the crowd to “save yourselves from this corrupt generation” we have to conclude that there is some way in which we are capable of / responsible for doing just that. We’re saved by everything and in every way which the Bible says we are. Simple and yet not.
Instead of feeling like we have to be loyal to one of these two positions (or some third one I’ve left out), we’d be wiser to broaden our loyalty to the whole Scripture and leave room in our rhetoric and doctrine for all of the saving actions/agents which God tells us about in His Word.