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New City Catechism - Question 33
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Posted by Paul Tauges, Senior Pastor


New City Catechism - Question 33


Q33: Should those who have faith in Christ seek their salvation through their own works, or anywhere else?


A: No, they should not, as everything necessary to salvation is found in Christ. To seek salvation through good works is a denial that Christ is the only Redeemer and Savior.

KIDS’ ANSWER: No, everything necessary to salvation is found in Christ.



Galatians 2:16

"yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified."



Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5; Romans 4:4-5



As we think about the place of good works in salvation, it is essential that we make a distinction between good works before conversion and good works after conversion.


Good Works before Conversion

According to the Scriptures, there are no works of righteousness that you or I could ever perform that would earn our salvation. In the sight of God, all the religious achievements, humanitarian good works, or moral goodness of men could never meet God’s standard since they arise from hearts that are corrupted by sin. We are all morally unclean and, therefore, our works are insufficient to outweigh our sin (Isa. 64:6). Therefore, throughout the Bible, salvation has always been by faith alone in God’s redeemer. When a person possesses saving faith, they are no longer resting on their own good works, but in the perfect, finished work of Jesus Christ when He atoned for our sin upon His cross (1 Pet. 3:18).


Good Works after Conversion

According to the Scriptures, the only way we can do good works which are acceptable to God is if they flow from a heart that is resting in the righteousness of God, which is a gift of His grace (Rom. 3:21, 5:15-17). I like to say it this way: Good works are the fruit of saving faith, not the root. The apostle maintains this important distinction and connection in what are perhaps the most well-known verses on this topic.


For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Eph. 2:8-10


Notice that good works before conversion are not acceptable as the path to God. Biblical salvation is only by grace through faith (vv. 8-9). However, good works after conversion are not only acceptable to God, but they are foreordained by Him. In other words, we are not saved by good works, but we are saved to good works.


  • By maintaining this distinction, we protect the purity of the gospel of grace, as that which only God could have achieved.
  • By maintaining this connection, we preserve the power of the gospel, as that which truly transforms the hearts and lives of sinners who are redeemed.


We should never seek our salvation through good works. To do so would be to say Jesus died needlessly (Gal. 2:21). However, we should expect that good works will follow true salvation. If faith does not produce good works then it is dead (Jas. 2:26).




We believe that man was created in the image of God, but fell into sin, and is therefore lost, and that only through regeneration by the Holy Spirit can salvation and spiritual life be obtained.  (Gen. 1:26272:7223:1-6Rom. 3:9-12,235:12,186:23;  Jn. 3:35-7)


We believe that Jesus Christ is true God and true Man, having been conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of  the Virgin Mary.  He who knew no sin died on the cross a sacrifice for our sins according to the Scriptures.  Further, He arose bodily from the dead, ascended into Heaven, where at the right hand of the Majesty on High, He now is our High Priest and Advocate.  (Is. 7:14Mt. 1:18-25;  Lk. 1:26-36;  Col. 2:9;  1 Jn. 5:20;  Mk. 10:45;  Heb. 2:9;  Lk. 24:23-40;  1 Cor. 15;  Acts 1:1-111 Pet. 3:221 Jn. 2:2Heb. 4:167:25)


We believe that the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection provide the only ground for justification and salvation for all who believe, and only such as receive Jesus by faith are born of the Holy Spirit, become children of God, and are saved for eternity.  (Heb. 9:22;  Mt. 26:281 Pet. 1:18,19Rom. 3:2425Rom. 5:1,  918Jn. 1:123:16Eph. 2:8,9)


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