Biblical Evidence for Salvation as a Process

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14)

(photo: Titian, “Simon Helps Jesus Carry the Cross”)

(All verses KJV unless otherwise indicated as RSV.)

The following is a portion from my book, Revelation!: 1001 Bible Answers to Theological Questions. I utilized a technique of providing Bible passages (usually one verse; sometimes a few together) that would constitute “answers” to a large number of one-sentence questions.

I think somewhere in the back of my mind, I was also perhaps vaguely recalling, particularly, The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism (New York: Doubleday Image, 1981), by my mentor, the late Fr. John A. Hardon, S. J. He divided his book into major categories, then subcategories, and 1,701 individual questions. His answers were relatively simple “catechetical” replies that present the basic Catholic teachings or “answers.”

Works that “simplify” theology as much as possible for the masses will tend to be of this “summary” nature. The question is whether simplification is a good thing overall or a bad thing. I think it’s obvious that it's a good thing. There’s always time to go more in-depth on issues, as a student or inquirer progresses in theological understanding.


Faith and Works: Two Sides of One Coin


How do we know that faith and works are intertwined and inseparable?

James 2:17-20, 26 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. [18] Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. [19] Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. [20] But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? . . . [26] For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.


Is faith itself described as “working”?

Galatians 5:6-7 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
[7] Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?


Is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit tied to our obedience; not just belief?

Acts 5:32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.


Do we have to obey the gospel in order to be saved?

1 Peter 4:17-18 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? [18] And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 


Do we prove that we are Christian believers by keeping the commandments?

1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.


Salvation as a Process


Does one have to “endure” to be saved?

Matthew 10:22 . . . he that endureth to the end shall be saved.


Does St. Paul strive after salvation?

Philippians 3:11-14 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. [12] Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. [13] Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, [14] I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.


Can salvation be nearer or further away from us?

Romans 13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.


Can we “grow up” to salvation?

1 Peter 2:2 (RSV) Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation;


Must we “continue in the faith” in order to be saved?

Colossians 1:21-23 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled [22] In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: [23] If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard . . .


Must we remain “steadfast until the end” in order to be saved?

Hebrews 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;


Do we need to “hold fast” to salvation?

Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.


Do we need to “continue” in the faith?

James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.


Do we have to be faithful till death in order to be saved?

Revelation 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.


Can our “crown” be taken away if we're not vigilant?

Revelation 3:10-12 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. [11] Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. [12] Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God,  . . . 

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