Amish Don't Teach Salvation Through Works, by A Reader in Indiana
By Paul Miller
November 1, 2021
Dear friends, I don’t know of any Amish church denominations that teach salvation through works. I think you know better. I’m sure you weren’t taught that growing up. The following verses were taken from a book of Anabaptist history.
Thus the godless (Catholics and Reformers) say to the godly (Anabaptists): O yes, you boast about your good works, act like the hypocrite in the temple, and think that therefore you are without sin. To this we reply that we can take no credit for good as natural men, but we give all glory and praise to God to whom it rightfully belongs. For it is obvious that man in himself cannot think anything good, let alone do it, as Paul says. For because of the grace of God, we know that the words which we do and carry out as men count for nothing before God on that day. In as much, however, as God does them in us through His grace and His spirit by whom all the believers are governed, they are good, just, pleasing, and acceptable to God (Hutterite leader Jacob Hutter, in a writing entitled Plots and Excuses, 1535).
You see, kind reader, we do not seek our salvation in works, words, or sacraments as do the learned ones, although they accuse us of that very thing, but we seek them only in Christ Jesus and in no other means in heaven or on earth. We rejoice exclusively in this only means. We trust by the grace of God to continue thus unto death. But that we abhor carnal works and desire to conform ourselves to His Word and commandment, according to our weakness, we do because He so taught and commanded us. For whosoever does not walk according to his doctrine proves in fact that he does not believe on Him or know Him and that he is not in the communion of the saints (Menno Simons, 1552).
The Anabaptists believed that salvation was not primarily a status but rather a transformation. The Reformers saw repentance as an admission of guilt, while the Anabaptists saw repentance as admitting guilt and turning away from old life. The Reformers saw faith primarily as passive acceptance of God’s offer of salvation while the Anabaptists understood faith as the positive response of an open heart and life that invited the transforming work of God.
In this response is commitment to discipleship. The Anabaptists “walked in the resurrection” while the Reformers rested in “grace.”
— (from a reader in Indiana)
We agree on much. I am glad to know that you and many others do believe as the Scriptures say—that salvation is by grace through faith, and not of works. I pray that more and more see and know this truth every day. Sadly, there are still very many who do indeed trust in works. For example, some believe that only those who are in a certain church or denomination will go to heaven. They are trusting in religion rather than in Jesus. Some people believe that if they attend church and pray, if they join the church, if they follow certain rules, etc., they will be saved. Certainly we can agree that this belief is not trusting in Jesus alone.
Regarding Jacob Hutter’s words, it is true that man cannot think anything good unless changed by God by being born again. However, I am not sure it is very Christian to call the Reformers godless. They definitely had their faults, as did the Anabaptist leaders (and as we all do), yet they certainly were not godless.
As for the words of Menno Simons, may we all seek salvation in Jesus Christ alone, as he stated. Let us pray that many more will be turned from death to life after they believe in Christ, just as they were in the book of Acts, and then serve Jesus with the rest of their lives because they have been made new creations in Him.
In heaven, there will be no Anabaptists or Reformers, no Baptists or Presbyterians or Lutherans, no Amish or Mennonites or Methodists. There will not even be Protestants. There will only be Christians—those who were saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, based upon the Word of God alone.
Let us then unite in the same righteous cause—and proclaim God’s truth to all we meet. If we come across Christians who trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, then let us join with them as brothers and sisters. If we meet those who trust in their church or a denomination or their works or their rules and think they cannot get to heaven without these things, then let us tell them the good news that Jesus came to set them free from bondage and to give them new life, hope, help, joy, peace, love, and eternal life.
Certainly many religious, good-intentioned, hardworking people are unsaved and lost, as Jesus explained. Certainly many nice church people call Jesus Lord who do not know Him, who trust in their religion and works and self.
Let us rejoice, though, that many of both the openly wicked and the openly religious have turned from self and sin and have found new life and changed hearts through Jesus Christ alone. Let us, then, live for Him and work for Him now while we can—telling others all around us the good news. Let us not keep this to ourselves, but let us be bold witnesses to our friends, our family members, our neighbors, and even to strangers. Let us join together in serving our Lord and Savior.
— Paul Miller
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