As you have hopefully traveled down the road toward salvation, listening and learning from various people about immersion, repentance, faith, confession of His name, calling on His name, the Sinner's Prayer, and all of the other things that people will tell you that must do, say, or pray in order to be saved, oftentimes you have heard it stated that you cannot be saved by works.
Well, that basic statement is true, if by the statement the person meant that since salvation comes from the grace of our Eloah, whose name is Yahuwah, and grace is an unearned or not merited (free) gift, then salvation cannot be earned by any kind of work that you can possibly do. If you could earn salvation, it would no longer be a free gift, but would become payment for the work that you had done. Salvation would accrue to those who worked the hardest at being good and not to those who put their trust in Yahushua.
Now, what exactly did the person mean by the statement? Do any of the above mentioned items, faith, confession, immersion, etc., come under the heading of works? Did that person mean that there is absolutely nothing that you must do?
If that is the case then you don't even have to believe, for belief itself becomes a "work." If you won't take my word for it, would you believe Yahushua?
Yahuchanan (John) 6:28-29 Then they said to him, "What shall we do that we might be engaged in the works of Yahuwah?" 29 Yahushua answered and said to them, "This is the work of Yahuwah that you have faith in Him whom He has sent."
(Work and works in this verse are all from the Greek word ergon. Definition below.)
ergon, er'-gon; ergo (to work); toil (as an effort or occupation); by implication an act.
Yahushua answered their question about works with a positive answer that makes the flat statement that faith in Him IS A WORK.
Hmmm. I thought you said works will NOT get us into paradise?
Yes, I did say that and it is still true.
We are saved BY grace THROUGH faith.
Grace is free gift and therefore cannot be earned. If it could be earned it would not be free and therefore would certainly not be a gift. But in order to receive that gift, we must reach out and take it when it is offered. He is not going to put in our pocket for us just because we believe it is there. If we fail to respond to His invitation the gift can never be ours. If we are not partakers of His grace we can never be "saved". If we have accepted and received that free gift from the Father of Lights then we are members of His family and in His bosom. We are "saved."
Ephesios (Ephesians) 2:4-8 But Yahuwah, who is rich in mercy, for with His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with the Anointed, (you are saved by grace) 6 and has raised us up together and made us sit together in the celestial sphere in the Anointed Yahushua 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us through the Anointed Yahushua. 8 For by grace you are saved through faith and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of Yahuwah.
(Note that he said "when we were dead in our sins." If we are dead in our sins, we must be alive only after those sins are gone. This will be made more clear below.)
The kinds of works that are spoken of in scripture as the ones that will NOT save you are:
1. Works of the Law.
No matter how strongly you adhere to the law of Mosheh (Moses), without faith in Yahushua you cannot be saved. The apostle Sha'uwl (Paul) is the perfect example of this. He was a devout Yahudiy (Jew) before his experience on the road to Dammeseq (Damascus), but he was not headed for paradise. He kept the law perfectly, but the law could not redeem him. Only the blood of Yahushua could do that.
2. Works of righteousness.
People who do good things today are good examples of righteousness. Really nice people who do things that you and I just wish we could do to alleviate human suffering. But if they are outside the body of the Anointed, their doom is as certain as those who are atheists or sit at home doing nothing. No amount of good works will ever gain admittance to paradise for anybody.
The kinds of works that are spoken of in the scripture that will meet His conditions for accepting His free gift are:
1. Faith - that Yahushua is the Son of Yahuwah (Yahuchanan 6:28-29). You absolutely must believe that Yahushua is the Son of Yahuwah. If you don't believe this, nothing else matters. You can never be redeemed.
2. Repentance - a turning from the life in the world to a life dedicated to Yahuwah. Basically "rethinking" the way you live (Acts 2:38). When you truly believe that Yahushua is the Master, you will want to quit living your life in this world and begin to follow Him. You will quit sin and take up the works of righteousness. These works of righteousness did not and cannot save you, but you will do righteous works BECAUSE you are saved. You will obey Him because you love Him (Yahuchanan [John] 14:15).
3. Confession - of His name as Master (Rhomaios [Romans] 10:9-10). If you do not confess His name before men, He will not confess yours before the Father.
4. Water immersion - for the remission of sins. Without water immersion (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16), which is your death, burial, and resurrection in His likeness, you cannot be born again and still are in your sins (Rhomaios 6:3-11, Kolassaeus [Colossians] 2:12). If you are not born again, you are not in the body of the Anointed (1 Korinthios [Corinthians] 12:13, Galates [Galatians] 3:27).
When you are immersed in accordance with scripture, your spirit is washed clean of its sin and you can then stand in the sight of Yahuwah (1 Keph [Peter] 3:21). Immersion is the complete submersion of your "dead man of sin's body" under the water, just as interment of a physically dead body is the complete submersion in the ground (or tomb). In the watery grave of immersion is where our sins are washed away (Acts 22:16), and therefore we cannot be alive until AFTER we are immersed for the remission of those sins (See Rhomaios 6:6-8 also).
Understand clearly that these listed works are those that reflect positively on the one doing them, and but are the result of love for, faith in, and obedience to Yahushua as our Savior. None of these works in and of themselves can or will "save" you, but these are the works that you will do to meet His conditions for salvation. There are other works that you will do after you have met His conditions that will determine your reward in the last day.
In reference to one of the original questions above, "Do any of the above mentioned items, faith, confession, baptism, etc., come under the heading of works?", the answer is yes. They are all works by any definition of the word. The only one that is a work that does not go toward accepting His conditions is the Sinner's Prayer. All of the rest are valid and required actions on the part of the candidate for salvation.
The Sinner's Prayer is not one of the works that leads to acceptance of salvation through the grace of Yahuwah. The proof of this is that this prayer (or any other prayer for that matter) is nowhere mentioned in the scripture as having anything to do with gaining admission to the body of the Anointed. The idea of a prayer of salvation is completely foreign to all of scripture and is the invention of the traducer himself, Satan. This prayer and its application without obeying the precepts of the scripture will lead many people right to the door but not allow them entry. Those who advocate this method are going to be dealt with severely (MattithYahuw [Matthew] 23:13).
So what are you going to do? Are you going to believe a man that tells you that you can pray a prayer that he recites to you and be saved? Or are you going to believe the word of Yahuwah and truly be admitted to his family in the manner He requires? It's your choice, and those who advocate the Sinner's Prayer will attempt to gainsay everything in the scripture about the steps I have listed, but read it for yourself and see if it's not true.
Remember also that the scripture from Rhomaios (Romans) through Revelation is all written to IMMERSED BELIEVERS and is for the edification of the ASSEMBLY. Nothing you find in those pages will tell you HOW to be saved, only how to STAY that way. The book of The Acts of the Apostles is the guide to attaining to salvation, after you have read the gospels to understand WHY you need salvation. Don't take any man's word for it. Believe Yahuwah. He is true and man is a liar.