I am trying to clarify my thinking in this business of being "saved" My protestant friend say Jesus saved us by His death on the cross and true belief in Him is all we need and we cannot add or subtract from salvation. I.E. 'works' etc, are immaterial. I have been telling them that Jesus' sacrificed was to re-open (give us an opportunity) our path to heaven and what we DO in life can alter that path. Works vs no works.They say that if we believe in Him we will want to do and live a righteous life and if we don't ,we did not believe in the first place. There is a confusing nuance here that eludes me. Are we in a battle of semantics or is there truly a clear distinction?
Your explanation is correct. The "saving" was to provide the opportunity to merit Heaven through Faith and good works. It is in this context that James 2:20/DRV is to be understood: "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" The same teaching is contained in Apocalypse (Revelation) 20:12/DRV: "And they were judged, every one according to their works."
You are right: the Protestant explanation is non-sensical as it commits the logical error of petitio principia; it begs the question.