Faith vs Works

This question comes up often: are we saved by faith alone, or are works also required?

First look at the fruit of the spirit (Gal 5:22-25). This is how a Christian is identified. It also says we live by and with the Spirit. In Jn 14:21 Jesus says if we love him we will obey him. Back up to v20, Father in Jesus, Jesus in us. Back up to V15-16. We get the benefit of the Spirit. This leads back to the fruit, which we will bare because the Spirit abides in us. Jesus never separates love from service, nor should we. Can you loose salvation, I certainly think by deliberate choice you can. We are warned the only unforgivable sin is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. What does that mean? I think one of the best answers is found in James 1:13. If you say the Holy Spirit (eg God) is evil, does evil, you blaspheme. Words and actions are equivalent, I think, to making a statement because actions speak louder than words. Otherwise why would James say faith without works is dead. It is true. If you believe, if you “love” God, then by the very definition of love you will take action. Your actions are the workings of your heart. If your actions are not hidden from men, how you anyone think your heart is not hidden from God? We are told in Jn 10:27 that if you know Jesus, you’ll hear and listen to him. Jesus says when we are facing him there will be some who call his name but he will say he never knew them and it will be because they never served him because they never served others.

Jn 13:33-34 says we’ll be recognized by the love we show one another. LOVE IS A VERB! Jn 14:21. Jn 14:12 says if we believe, we will do what he says. 2 Cor 5:17 – we are a new creation. The old man is dead, we are born again. Halaluja! We can’t worry about being doers, because if we really do believe, we will bear fruit unless our natural man comes back. Remember when Jesus washed Peter’s feet? Peter objected, but Jesus said do it or else. Peter then overcompensated by saying wash me fully. Jesus then said Peter didn’t need to be washed all over, just the dirt on his feet. When we walk with Jesus we get dirt on us because we walk in the world. We’re warned to be in but not of the world.

Eph 2:8-9 states we’re saved by faith rather than works. Eph 2:10 goes on to state our very purpose in life, AND THIS IS THE ANSWER TO THE GREAT QUESTION: WHY???, Eph 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Yes, we’re saved by faith, but we exist for service. Does this mean a Christian can’t sin? Not at all. It simply means it is our very nature to want to be more Christlike, to grow and mature, to run the good race, to share the Good News. Jesus promises us salvation if we believe (put our faith and trust and hope) in him. Jn 3:16. He also promises the Holy Spirit. He tells us we can’t hide our goodness, we can’t hide him. Jesus is the light of the world. You can hide from the light, but you can’t hide the light itself.

Our faith is manifest in our obedience. Obedience is deliberate action on our part. Works may include obedience, but in the broader sense it means doing what we think will please God (or what what we think appears to please God). There is a huge difference between following rules for our sake and doing what our Lord asks of us for His sake.

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About Lance Ponder

Christian author of "Ask James one"; public speaker; husband and father. Available to speak on Creation and the Gospel.
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8 Responses to Faith vs Works

  1. Michael Knudsen says:

    Great thoughts, Lance! There is so much meditation to be done on faith and works. Although it’s not technically “works” that save us from sin, you have to admit that if you are engaged in serving others and doing good things, you have less time to think about and commit the type of sins that usually result from idleness, selfishness, and being in the wrong places. Why is faith without works dead? I feel it’s because without works you become a “hearer of the word” and not a “doer”. Like the people who show up at church on Sunday to hear a good sermon, then go right home and return to their life of sin. You can claim to be a Christian, but the master said, “if you love me, keep my commandments”. His commandments include loving God and your fellow man, and as you so nicely put it, “love is a verb”.

  2. Todd Beal says:

    Lance,

    | There is a huge difference between following rules for our sake and doing what our Lord asks of us for His sake. |

    I enjoyed your practical breakdown of faith versus works. I would like to see the essence of this post incorporated into our churches as part of a “Christianity 101” program. I feel so strongly that the church desperately needs to get back to doctrinal basics: Faith versus Works being one of those basics. If we have no foundation we will surely fall. Much of today’s church is case in point.

    May I use your quote in my book and on my blog?

    • Lance Ponder says:

      Yes, of course you may.

      I like the idea of that Christianity 101. I know some churches have done better than others at covering the basics, but in general I would say there’s a real lack of foundational knowledge. As we read in Hosea, God says His people are dying for lack of knowledge. We are not saved by knowledge, but we can certainly find ourselves in peril for lack of it.

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