Salvation by Works

One Men’s Devotional states: “God’s love for you is deeper and more profound than you can imagine. God’s love for you is so great that He sent His only Son to this earth to die for your sins and to offer you the priceless gift of eternal life. Now, you must decide whether or not to accept God’s gift. ... It’s a decision that you cannot ignore. It is a decision that is yours and yours alone.”

To a Calvinist, this would amount to a works-based salvation unless Irresistible Grace is added. The way that the Calvinist system works is that mankind is spiritually dead, and is incapable of believing in Christ, unless God does it for them, irresistibly, but then Calvinists also deny that God coerces them against their otherwise depraved will:

One Calvinist preacher declared: “You think you had a hand in your salvation!” (The Chosen Fool)

So even if we admit that we cannot save ourselves, and are in need of a savior, Jesus, to save us, we are still nonetheless our own savior, since we were wise enough to chose to turn to Him for help.

One Calvinist states: You make faith into a work by ascribing it to your own wisdom, and by not acknowledging that it is the gift of God.

Of course, salvation is the gift of God, as per Ephesians 2:8 and Romans 6:23, but what Calvinists really mean is that faith is the gift of God in the sense of being the irresistible gift of God, and is thus no longer a work. So that’s what it is really all about for a Calvinist. It is about Irresistible Grace, or bust.

Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.

The gift is salvation:

Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The free gift is salvation, and it is through faith.

​Romans 4:5: “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” 

Calvinists, repeat after me: “If it is through faith, then it is not by works.” However, Calvinists only believe that faith is not a work if faith comes by Irresistible Grace.

​(1) Salvation is by grace through faith, and not by grace unto faith.

(2) The Calvinist formulation nearly requires that it is God who is doing the believing, and not the person.

Calvinism is indeed a matter of salvation by Irresistible Grace FOR faith, because they are Calvinistically elect, rather than being a matter of salvation by grace THROUGH faith. What this boils down to, is that God engages in a participatory relationship with man, enabling him, and that upon faith in Christ, one then receives the deposit of the Holy Spirit: 

Ephesians 1:13: “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believedyou were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.

To a Calvinist, a person is first sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit, who is then irresistibly regenerated to believe. So for the Calvinist, the verse works in the opposite way that Calvinism needs it to.

For additional discussion on this topic, see here.

Question:  What is a works-based salvation?

Answer:  To a Calvinist, any religion that teaches that salvation comes by anything other than an Irresistible Grace, necessarily results in a works-based salvation, because once you incorporate any act of the human will, even so little as a person’s submission to God in passive non-resistance, you still have some element of human contribution. So when Calvinists say that salvation is all of God, what they mean to say that God does everything, including the act of faith on behalf of the person, in which God is said to overcome the resistance of the elect. However, Calvinists also succumb to quite a bit of Double-Talk in this regard since they will deny that God coerces the person to believe, and believes on behalf of the person. However, even worse for the Calvinist, is the fact that the Bible never describes works in this manner. So the Calvinist contention is 100% extra-biblical. It is a complaint not rooted in Scripture.
Leighton Flowers explains: “Imagine the prodigal son, after returning home in his humiliation, and being received by that warm welcome of his father, running to him and embracing him and giving him the golden ring and killing the fatted calf and having the party and hanging out in the corner of the party and bragging to his friends, ‘Well, you know, I did come home, after all. You know. I just want to brag about me coming home out of my pigsty. Look how great I am.’ It’s just silliness. It was totally and completely the choice of the father to run to him, to embrace him. He didn’t owe his son that, on the basis that he came home. He chose to do that because he is a gracious father, and that alone is what saved the son. He deserved to be stoned upon his return, probably, because of what he did to his father. But he was received in grace because the father is gracious. (Dr. Michael Brown with Leighton Flowers on Soteriology101, 43:04-43:52)