Works vs Faith

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. (James 2:17-26 ESV)

So as a Lutheran this passage made me squirm in my seat. And a lot of my friends commented lately and I was taught if a passage of scripture makes you uneasy, you have to dig in deeper…

So Luther and Paul taught us “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV) Ok actually it probably wasn’t Paul but somebody writing saying they were Paul, but in the epistle to the Ephesians we are told we are not saved by works. It is by faith. James tells us “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” So which one is it?

Both Ephesians and James are a part of the cannon, and are scripture that are good for reproof and teaching, so is is faith alone, or is it works, with faith?

Now I know some of my friends would read the above and be squirming in their seats. But you left out Ephesians 2:10 as any good Lutheran would do. As Lutherans we are quick to pull the faith alone card and say we are saved by faith, and not by works so there is nothing I can do. We use this to get out of doing any kind of work for the Lord. But that is a misuse of scripture, because the verse after Ephesians 2:9 is Ephesians 2:10 which says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” You see we are saved by grace through faith not by our works, but we were created to do the works of God. We need to do works.

James is right that a faith without works or action is not doing so well, it may not be dead yet, but it will be taking a ride on the cart very shortly. We have to show our faith through the life we live.

The thing that makes me squirm more than James saying our works justify us, is the other side of the coin. You see we are saved by grace through faith, and then we tell others what they must do to achieve heaven… We tell them how bad they are and our actions of exclusion keep them away from the relationship that saves them. We do not allow people access to God, by the actions we do. So when our actions get in the way of people coming to God, how do those works impact us?

We are quick to say we want to see faith in action, but the world sees our faith in action and they wonder why they want to be a part of it…

How can our works, our actions actually show the love we have been given?

Published by asacredrebel

Lions tamed Dragons slain Leaders equipped Disciples trained Jedi Christian Living the Gospel out loud!

One thought on “Works vs Faith

  1. Nice article! Great point about keeping Ephesians 2:10 in the mix and not stopping at verse 9 since this points out God’s purpose for us. I have always resolved this matter by viewing works as an output of justification not an input as you stated in your article. But the James passage that we are justified by our works did cause me to pause. In the end I fall back on the Biblical truth that faith cannot help but do good works — and only people who have been saved (justified) can do good works — so from that sense “doing good works” and “being justified” same synonymous.

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