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Faith Without Works is Dead

Put your money where your mouth is.  So says the Bible.  James 2:17-18 (King James Version) reads: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”

And so begins the debate: are we saved by grace, or through our own efforts?  Any Christian necessarily believes we are saved through the sacrifice of Christ, but is it sufficient to merely believe?  Must our belief affect our behavior?

Some scriptures would seem to indicate that faith is all we need.  Christ repeatedly said to those He healed “Thy faith hath made thee whole.”  Galatians 2:16 reads: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

So, clearly, works are not enough without faith.  Being a moral person will not be sufficient if you do not believe in Christ.  That still does not answer the question of whether or not works are necessary.  Lets look at another situation in which faith and works come into question.

Politicians make a great many promises about what they believe in and what they will do.  We might believe their faith.  But once in office, do they make good?  Do we think well of a politician who says nice things but doesn’t follow through?

Now a more extreme example: a man who abuses his wife or girlfriend.  After every incident, he apologizes, apparently sincerely.  He promises to be better.  Maybe things even are better for awhile.  But if, after every apology, the abuse continues, will she still believe his promises?  Wouldn’t those concerned for her welfare urge her to leave him?

When we meet Him in the hereafter, will God be impressed by pretty words or impassioned apologies?  No.  He will expect us to have obeyed His commandments and behaved as Christians.

Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  This applies to every area of our lives.  In other areas of our lives, faith and works combined is called integrity.  Faith without works is called hypocrisy.

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4 Comments

  1. Mikey G says:

    Without doing the scripture barrage which has never helped anyone as far as I know I will say my best understanding (which of course comes from scripture as enlightened by the Holy Spirit).

    We are only saved by faith in what God has doe through His Son, Jesus Christ. That is it nothing else, short of absolute perfection, could suffice. The idea that the holy, perfect Judge of the universe would be impressed by our good deeds or could say our good deeds merited eternal reward is sort of ridiculous. If we ever imagine we can be saved by our own actions we are not in the Gospel and are imagining ourselves as as great as God.

    Salvation only by faith… however salvation is not merely fire insurance for the afterlife. According to the Bible faith not only saves us from future judgment but also transforms us into a new kind of person, changes us to become like Him. This process is sometimes slow and won’t be finished this side of death but is a part of the promise of salvation: God in our heart now.

    Godly actions are not a prerequisite of salvation but rather are an after effect, something we ought to expect. Good works flow from salvation, not lead to it.

    Also in the Gospel our good works are a part of God’s plan for our lives. The pithy bumper sticker version is to say “we are not saved BY good woks but are saved FOR good works.”

    • I was not trying to imply that our good works save us, rather that simply believing in Christ (or saying you believe in Christ) would not save us either. We have to make an effort to live as He would have us live. This isn’t to “earn” our salvation; it’s to show God that we really mean it when we say we want to be like Him. Similarly, sinning with the idea “I’ll repent later” is not likely to end well either.

  2. […] Faith Without Works is Dead (selfeducatedconservative.wordpress.com) […]

  3. […] Faith Without Works is Dead (selfeducatedconservative.wordpress.com) […]

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