Faith vs Works for Salvation

Our family was reading recently about when God sent fiery serpents amongst the Israelites as a punishment because of their wickedness.

The part that I found interesting was that God told Moses to create a brass serpent and fasten it to the top of a pole. Then, when someone was bitten by one of the serpents, all they had to do was look at the brass serpent and they were healed.

This story is of course very familiar to me, as I have heard it retold since I was a child. However, when we read it through this time, I saw it from a different perspective.

I realized that this was an excellent analogy to help me better understand the age old arguments about faith versus works for salvation.

In the brass serpent story, God prepared the way to be saved, but there was still a task to be performed in order to RECEIVE that salvation.

Just as many symbols that were given to the Israelites, the brass serpent was in similitude of Jesus Christ.

We have all been bitten by the fiery serpents we call sin. Our Heavenly Father has prepared a way for us to be healed from those deadly bites. He raised up His Son, even Jesus Christ. He has prepared a way for us to be saved. And as free as it is for the taking, He still requires us to do something to RECEIVE that salvation. First, we need to have faith in Jesus Christ that He can actually save us. Second, we need to look unto him. Jesus Christ is our perfect example. They way He lived His life is the perfect example to us for how we should be living our lives.

Thus, faith leads to good works. Good works are fruit of faith. That is why James told us that faith with out works is dead. Because if you truly have faith in Jesus Christ then your actions will mirror His actions.

We certainly cannot save ourselves without Jesus, yet He also cannot save us without our acknowledging and accepting that salvation and performing the tasks that He requires of us (His commandments). He has made salvation freely available for us, but we still need to RECEIVE it. We need to have faith in Jesus Christ that He can save us, then look unto Him as an exemplar of how we should live our lives, and live accordingly.

5 thoughts on “Faith vs Works for Salvation”

  1. Couple this awesome story with the sacrament and there are many new and exciting perspectives to think about.


  2. thebigdog, did you have any particular perspectives using that combination that you would care to share?

    When I think of the sacrament, I am remember that we take the bread and the water in remembrance of the Body and the Blood of Christ. As I worthily partake of the sacrament (meaning that I have done my best to repent of my sins) my soul is cleansed and I am renewed through the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made in my behalf.

    I can see that from a certain perspective, the sacrament is much like the brass serpent that Moses raised up. The sacrament is also a tool of salvation, just as the serpent was.

    Both the serpent and the sacrament are symbols (or types) of Jesus Christ himself. They are used to help us look unto and remember Him and what He has done for us.

    Good though, thebigdog. Thank you.

  3. That is correct, the sacrament is all that you have stated. Let me share this. During the sacrament prayer we promise “to take upon us”. At this point, we are not taking upon us, in the very moment, but we are promising “to” take upon us. I will have to check and see which Apostle talked about this in greater detail. But we actually, “take” upon us the name of the Savior when we attend the temple. So tying this all together and thinking it about in the terms of faith and works, we must have the faith and the work to look at the “mark” and not away from it or “beyond” (script reference here but i cant remember it) it (Him). Also, during the sacrament we promise to remember Him daily. They had that experience and we have one similar each day. We have to look each day, strengthening our faith and doing the works that are needed. Just some of my thoughts.

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