The Bible says: 

16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[a] Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:16 NIV)

I take works of the law to be moral law here. That is love for God and our neighbor are the works of the law.

But if someone loved God and their neighbor their whole life, wouldn't God accept them?  

What is a Protestant answer to this question?

  • 1
    @Mike, I take it that your question is ultimately linked to the idea of universalism, the idea that everyone ultimately gets saved. Those who hold to this view may generally invoke the concept of two resurrections, one prior to and one after Christ's millennial reign. Ultimately, any kind of argument in favour of universalism would seem to have to go through linguistic analysis of the Greek "aion". I hope everyone gets saved, but I don't know.
    – user1539
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 5:52
  • 3
    The way you set this up, it is a poll. A don't do this kind of question here. I know you asked for Biblically based answers, but both ends of this -right out wrong- are going to claim biblical basis and it's basically an interpretation poll with no right/wrong answers.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 5:57
  • @Caleb - ok think I get the point. try to think of a consructive question next time.
    – Mike
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 6:25
  • @Caleb - I rescoped question for a constructive answer. Cheers
    – Mike
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 0:15
  • NO! ....................
    – user1774
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 13:48

1 Answer 1


A prominent concept in the Bible is that we cannot earn our way to heaven, no matter how hard we work or how much good we do. The person who lives the holiest life ever lived has still sinned. The good does not outweigh the bad, any more than giving to charity does not get you out of a speeding ticket or allow you to cheat on your taxes with impunity.

God does not owe mankind anything at all. Salvation is a gift--not an award. So, again, no matter how much "good" you do in your life, loving God and your neighbor or sacraments or vows of poverty or anything else, you cannot earn a place in heaven.

God "accepts" those who put their faith in Jesus and His work on the cross--not those who put their faith in their own good works of loving God and loving people.

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood —to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

  • well that seems pretty clear.
    – Mike
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 13:06

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