There is an ongoing conversation regarding faith and works that should be addressed but it is definitely simpler than a lot of people make it. According to scripture one without the other is counter-productive. In James 2, which we will elaborate on below, James literally is saying what good is having faith if it doesn’t enlighten you enough to move. Having faith in a chair to support you isn’t enough to just say, if you never take a seat. Anyone who hears this faith, knowing you never sit, doubts the faith that you have expressed. The same goes for our faith in the gospel. If we never live out our faith by remaining obedient to God’s word, what good is our faith in the first place.
Works on the other hand can be done without faith, but there is also an issue with this way of living. It becomes a way to try and prove you are faithful by the amount of work you do. If you gave millions of dollars to a homeless shelter, “a work”, but treated homeless people poorly, there is no evidence that your money meant anything to you. So if you came out and said you had compassion for homeless people and you wanted to do something about it yet you treated them in a way that supported something different, one would doubt your faith and question the “work” of giving your money.
Let’s take a look at some supporting scripture on this topic of faith and works!
"Faith = complete trust or confidence in Christ Jesus Works = work done out of obedience to the gospel"
Justified by Faith
Paul says a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:26-28)
- Here he is speaking about the faith we should have for the sake of salvation
- Before a man embraces the gospel all of his “work” is pointless
What Good is Faith without Works?
James says what good is faith without works. (James 2:14)
- Here James is speaking about the same faith from Romans but this “work” he is speaking of is out of obedience to the gospel
- He goes on to say if someone is in need and you tell them to go get food and you have food to give, what is the point of your faith… then goes onto say that kind of faith won’t save you
These two scriptures say the same thing but from a different perspective.
- We are to have faith in Jesus and do good works out of our obedience.
- One without the other is wrong.
- You show your faith but the obedient work you do for / from the gospel
An example James uses is Abraham sacrificing his son
- the work of sacrificing his son is called murder without faith
- Having faith without giving up his son is called doubt
- Abraham demonstrates both faith and works when God told him to sacrifice his only son
- He had faith that God could raise a man from the dead. That he will work everything out for his good as promised.
- When he put his son on the alter to be sacrificed. And he did and was blessed
Another example James mentions is the prostitute Rahab hearing and doing – Joshua 2
- Rahab heard of Gods powerful presence of Israel and trusted the instruction – faith
- Rahab did what she was told by giving the messengers another way out so they would not be seen – works
- both were required and her promises were fulfilled
- Have there been instances in your life where you have people say something that contradicted their actions? How does that make you feel about their faith on a particular topic?
- Is your faith showing itself through your actions and obedience to the gospel? Why or why not?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for blessing us with your Word specifically regarding faith and works. Allow it to shape our actions so that our faith can be known as authentic according to our obedience to the gospel. Lord let our faith in you be big enough to take action like Abraham knowing what you have already promised. Allow us to hear instruction, like Rahab, and move because of the Faith we have in you. I pray all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen.