Did Cornelius need to work before or after his salvation?



I just wanted to say thank you for the sermons you provide online. I actually came across your web site this evening as I was searching for resources on Cornelius and his salvation, as I think his life greatly parallels many in today's culture.

I do have an inquiry from the 15th paragraph, which I'm posting here:

God had works for Cornelius to do, just as God has works for each of us. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). These works do not merit the worker's salvation, but salvation will not be given if the works are left undone. Cornelius would not have been saved if he did not obey the commands of God.

Referring to the bolded text above, do you feel these works are the actions of obeying God's commands to seek Peter, or does this refer to works after salvation, which seals our sanctification? Specifically speaking, in our own lives what works must not be left undone in order to secure eternal salvation through the precious blood of Jesus Christ? I should preface that I am a born again Christian. After many years of believing I was saved from a simple pray at age six, I came to the realization in late 2009 that professing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is much more than a simple prayer. I have been longing to better understand the salvation of Cornelius for some time now, and I found your sermon quite helpful. Would you please clarify your statement above?


First off, many wish to distinguish justification, salvation, and sanctification as if these occur at different moments in time. Each of these words has different meanings, but God uses them to refer to the same moment in time. See "Are we judged based on justification or based on sanctification?" for details.

It has become a mantra among various denominations that salvation is by faith alone, despite the fact that James says the opposite: "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone" (James 2:24). In the confusion caused by insisting something that is not true, people have come to believe that effort on man's part is not in God's design for salvation. To show the fallacy of the "alone" doctrines, I would like you to look at: "What Saves a Person?"

In regards to Cornelius, would he have been saved if he did not seek out Peter? What if he wasn't interested in hearing Peter's message? What if he refused to be baptized? In each of those things, Cornelius had to do something. What he did showed his faith. Refusing to do those things would have demonstrated a lack of faith. "Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. Yes, a man will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith" (James 2:17-18).

Many people are surprised to learn that the Bible never states that salvation comes to a person through prayer. There is no mention of a sinner's prayer. See "Praying a Sinner's Prayer" for details.

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