SALVATION NOT BEING FAITH WITH GOOD WORKS
"The works of law" is an expression we find in the Bible (Gal. 2:16). We have covered this aspect already. A more common understanding of the condition of salvation is that salvation is by faith and also by works. Salvation by faith is a doctrine of the Bible, and man cannot argue against it (Eph. 2:8). But man says that it is also by works. Let us now consider what the Bible says about this. We are often polite and accommodating in our speaking, but the Bible is not polite in its speaking. It is very definite. Ephesians 2:8 and 9 say, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works that no one should boast." These verses tell us that salvation is absolutely by grace and through faith. The word through means to traverse. It is like saying that the electric light shines by electricity and through the wire. It is also like saying the water from the faucet comes by the reservoir in the water department and through the pipes. Man is saved by grace, but the channel through which salvation comes to us is faith. The channel is not works but faith. It is through faith and has nothing to do with works. It is not adding faith to works. One has to know that faith and works are basically opposed to one another. The grace of the Lord Jesus is based on the love of God. When we believe, grace and love flow into us. As a result, we are saved, have life, and are justified. None of the above are communicated to us through works.
Thank the Lord that salvation is not because of work. Why should it be so? The answer here is that no one should boast. What Ephesians 1 tells us is that God wants to have all the glory. That is why He does all the work. Suppose a certain brother is very capable and educated and has suffered much for the Lord. If another brother comes to me and says, "Brother Nee, I praise you and glorify you for the fine work that this brother has done," we would surely say that he is mentally ill. Glory can only go to the one who has done the work. There is no such thing in the world as one working and another getting the glory. Those who work deserve the wages. Whosoever works, the same should get the glory. Why has God done all the work of saving us? It is so that He would get all the glory. The reason God gave us grace is that He would get all the glory. He does not want us to work, lest we boast in ourselves. To boast is to glorify oneself. If we have done anything that deserves any glory, we will not thank and praise God before Him. Right away we will say, "No doubt, the salvation is given to me by You. It is Your work. But I have added my part to it. If I had not added my part, I would not be like I am today." Man loves to overestimate his own merits. He likes to overemphasize his own outstanding points. If God said that He would accomplish ninety-nine percent of the work of salvation and leave one percent to us, this one percent would silence the heavens. The angels would not praise anymore, and the stones would not cry out anymore. Instead of the stones becoming the sons of Abraham, the sons of Abraham would become the stones, for out of the one hundred percent, some would lay claim to one percent. They would then tell the wonder of their own work and say, "I passed through that in this way, or in that way. How did you get through? What contribution did you put in?" Everyone would be boasting about his own work, and God would have no possibility of getting the glory.
(Gospel of God, The (2 volume set), Chapter 9, by Watchman Nee)