Judged According to Works? (Vos)

Posted at The Reformed Reader:

The Bible teaches that sinful people cannot earn salvation or contribute to their salvation. Justification and eternal life are free gifts of God received by faith alone in Christ alone (Rom 4:1-8, Gal. 2:15-16, Eph 2:8, etc.). Or as the Heidelberg Catechism says, the good we do can’t make us right or help make us right with God because he demands entire perfection, but “even the very best we do in this life is imperfect and stained with sin” (Q 62). However, doesn’t God promise to reward obedience (Mt. 5:12, 10:41-41, Heb. 11:6, etc.)? Geerhardus Vos explained this well:

“That being judged “according to works” also applies to believers is apparent from Matthew 25:34–40; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12. However, this is not to be understood in the sense that works provide the basis for the decision whether one has earned or not earned salvation. Works will come into consideration as a manifestation of genuine saving faith. Work in the scriptural sense also means not just an external display but the expression of one’s life that flows out of the depth of the heart. So understood, works are in fact evidences for the presence of faith. ...
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