Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

acts of obedience or works of righteousness

In a previous lifetime I was introduced to the idea of a purported distinction between “acts of obedience” and “works of righteousness”. This distinction was deemed necessary because of verses like Ephesians 2:8-9  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.  Obviously a doctrinal position which teaches that one must do something to be saved must somehow differentiate between this act of doing and what is disallowed in Ephesians. Thus the teachers of such a salvation must engage in semantics of this sort.


Supposedly, acts of obedience are distinguished from the prohibited works because they are not the basis for boasting; they are simply a repentant response to God’s Grace and Mercy. This might appear reasonable as a distinction at first blush, but upon further examination one must realize that if my salvation involves my doing I will inevitably feel proud of my accomplishment and disdainful of those who have not done the same. Thus enters self-righteousness which is the ultimate form of boasting.


Ironically, the works of righteousness which cannot lead to salvation would include spontaneous acts of kindness and charity plus ordinary day to day adherence to the Golden Rule as a governing value in one’s life. Instead, salvation is supposedly vested in arbitrary rituals and required actions. I suspect I am not alone in not being able to see how required “acts of obedience” would not reduce my salvation to something of which I would boast. After all, everything ultimately depends on me, so why wouldn’t I take credit for doing the necessary, right things.