The question of faith vs works is essential to our understanding of our faith.
The answer we find must form the very basis of our faith.
This topic is so crucial, in fact, that it was one of the major points of discussion during the Reformation.
What are we asking when we question if we are saved through faith or by works? It’s simply the question of if believing in Jesus is enough to bring us to salvation, or if there are certain things we must do as well.
What are some of the “works” that different Christian traditions believe one must do to earn salvation?
Baptism is a good example. Some traditions believe that if you do not become baptized, even if you believe in Jesus, that you will not be saved.
Other traditions will say the same kind of things about other rites of the church, such as confession or communion.
The Bible clearly teaches that salvation comes through faith alone, and not through works.
Ephesians 2:8-9 reads, “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”
The word to focus on here is grace.
Grace means that salvation is a gift and a blessing from God, not something we earn in any way whatsoever.
The very idea of grace implies that it’s not earned, deserved, or acquired in any other way than being freely given.
Also, Romans 11:6 reads, “Since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it is really-free and undeserved.”
Romans 3:28 also says, “We are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.”
Then Galatians 2:16 teaches, “We know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”
Paul is an interesting example to look at when it comes to the question of faith vs works.
When we first meet him in the Bible, his name is Saul and he’s a Pharisee.
The Pharisees were known to believe in faith through works, being wholly devoted to following the laws of the Old Testament as closely as humanely possible.
But, when Paul comes to faith in Christ, he understands that his former ways were not how one receives salvation.
When he writes much of the New Testament, he makes sure to include the correct teaching in his letters to the churches across the ancient Mediterranean world.
In Philippians 3:9, Paul writes, “I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith.”
Now, just because works don’t save us, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be committed to doing good things in the name of Christ.
Just because we have salvation through faith doesn’t mean that we can simply go about our lives sinning without remorse.
Titus 2:14 says, “He gave His life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us His very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds."
Our good deeds should be a natural response to the free gift of salvation and our relationship with Christ.
If our faith is genuine, it will result in our emulation of Jesus and His character.
When we are truly connected with Him, we will naturally be inclined to partner with Christ in the task of continuing His redemptive work across the world and the building up of God’s Kingdom until His return.
So, we can conclude that we are saved through faith alone and not by any kind of works.
The good things we do in this life will be a direct result of our faith, not the determiner of it.
May we cling to Christ and look to Him for our redemption instead of trying to earn the gift He freely gives to us.
We’d love to hear your stories! Let us know in the comments below.
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