When one starts defending the gospel against the deadly OSAS (Once Saved Always Saved) doctrine, the one thing that seems to get so distorted is to accuse the other of a “works salvation.” Apparently “works” is confused with “faith that is active.” They charge that Paul and James contradict each other. This is untrue. James and Paul believed the same thing. The most quoted verse is James 2:21, but they will not continue with vss. 22-25. James and Paul agree. (Rom 4:3; James 2:23)
“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”
And when they get to Rahab? The poor woman, they stumble and fall all over her. One young gentleman wrote,
I think we know that Rahab the harlot was not saved because she turned from her sins. ‘Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent [them] out another way (James 2:25)?’ Did you ever wonder when Rahab stopped being a harlot? Here’s the verse where Rahab is justified, “And the city shall be accursed, [even] it, and all that [are] therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that [are] with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent (Joshua 6:17).” This is the last mention of her, “And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel [even] unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho (Joshua 6:25).” If she repented of her sin, why is she still a harlot? I must’ve missed the part where Rahab got down on her knees and said,”God, I’m sorry for having sex with strangers for money.”
The OSAS doctrine is such a deception that people can’t seem to get counsel from the whole word of God. They get stuck on certain verses and can’t release themselves because they are too busy defending a doctrine that is not Biblical. As seen from above, they don’t even make sense when trying to defend this awful doctrine.
The Bible says nothing about “working for your salvation,” because one cannot earn it, it’s a free gift; however, once a person believes on Christ, his faith will be proved by his works! It is not enough to just believe, but there must be obedience to God. Even the Bible says, “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that OBEY him; (Heb. 5:9)
We are saved by GRACE THROUGH FAITH. We cannot save ourselves, nor is salvation of works, but once one is saved, he’ll prove his faith by his works. The Bible says we can KNOW those who are saved (1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 5:2; 1 John 5:18 , etc.). It just doesn’t stop at believing in God in a moment of time, or saying the sinner’s prayer that is not followed by any change in character.
Grace has been dangerously distorted by such teachers as Charles Stanley, Bob George, Chuck Swindoll, etc.. And the reasons why this straw man argument of a works salvation accusation is given is because grace has been presented as a license for immorality for so long, and without challenge, that it seems strange to people in our day to hear the real truth, even it it is directly read from the Bible!
I asked this same gentleman I quoted above, “A man admits that he’s a sinner and believes on Jesus Christ for salvation. He does good for a number of years, but hard times come and he goes back into his life of sinning. He wants nothing to do with Jesus anymore, he divorces his wife, and sleeps around with other women. Is this man still saved?”
Needless to say, the question is always avoided. Why? Because, by conscience and Biblical truth, they know it’s wrong, but the doctrine of OSAS must be defended at all cost!
True grace that brings salvation teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. It teaches us to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. (Titus 2:11,12)
Though we are saved by grace through faith, the Bible is clear that sin can bring a true saint to his spiritual death (Rom. 6:16; 8:13; James 1:14-16; Luke 15:24, etc.). It is possible for a true saint to “depart from the faith” (1 Tim 4:1). These warnings have been given to the saints. There are certain sins that will keep one from inheriting the kingdom. The sins of the flesh will do that (Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Rev. 21:8, etc.). Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14)
Our faith will be proved by our works as James says. “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” It said nothing about working for salvation, but works will prove our faith. Faith and works go together and make faith perfect! Abraham believed God and showed it by his actions. He obeyed God.
As for Rahab?
She had a statement of faith. The agreement followed her confession (Jos.9-11) Her faith too was proved by her works. God’s word shows that this “harlot,” despite whatever her past was before her conversion to Israel and the true God, was later considered among the righteous in Hebrews 11.
By the way, she ended up marrying an Israelite, Salmon, and by means of that marriage became one of the actual physical ancestors of Jesus (Matt. 1:5-6)!
The Bible shows Rehab as an example of active faith.
“By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” (Heb. 11:29-34)
Did Rahab or Abraham “earn” their salvation? No. They believed in God and showed it by their actions (works). Faith without works is dead. Without works, your faith is not made perfect.