Faith and Works

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Faith and Works

Salvation by faith and works is a subject that confuses many.

What we can know for sure, is that salvation is by faith alone.

Faith and WorksFor it is by the Grace of God that we have the remedy for sin, but the remedy is not imputed where there is no faith. Without faith, grace cannot possibly be imputed, nor can it ever be, therefore it is by Faith that we are saved, that it might be by grace.

“Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed…” Romans 4:16

But how are we to define faith, and fully understand what it is that faith comprises?

To answer this question we must study further.

Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” Mark 1:14, 15.

Repentance is associated with faith and is urged in the gospel as essential to salvation. Paul preached repentance. He said, “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” Acts 20:20, 21.

There can be no salvation without repentance, for no impenitent sinner can believe with his heart unto righteousness.

Repentance is described by Paul as a godly sorrow for sin that “worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of” 2 Corinthians 7:10.

This repentance has in it nothing of the nature of merit, but it prepares the heart for the acceptance of Christ as the only Saviour, the only hope of for lost sinner.

As the sinner looks to the law, his guilt is made plain to him and pressed home to his conscience, and he is condemned. His only comfort and hope is found in looking to the cross of Calvary. As he ventures upon the promises, taking God at His word, relief and peace come to his soul. He cries, “Lord, Thou hast promised to save all who come unto Thee in the name of Thy Son. I am a lost, helpless, hopeless soul. Lord, save, or I perish.” His faith lays hold on Christ, and he is justified before God. {FW 99.3}

But while God can be just, and yet justify the sinner through the merits of Christ, no man can cover his soul with the garments of Christ’s righteousness while practicing known sins or neglecting known duties. God requires the entire surrender of the heart, before justification can take place; and in order for man to retain justification, there must be continual obedience, through active, living faith that works by love and purifies the soul. {FW 100.1}

James writes of Abraham and says:

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” James 2:21-24.

In order for man to be justified by faith, faith must reach a point where it will control the affections and impulses of the heart; and it is by obedience that faith itself is made perfect. {FW 100.2}

The gospel is God’s remedy for sin; its work is to bring men into harmony with the law,–to cause the workings of the righteous law to be manifested in our lives. But this is wholly a work of faith,–the righteousness of God is revealed from “faith to faith,”–faith in the beginning, and faith to the end,– as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

And how is that faith received?

“Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” Romans 10:17

We must set our hearts to understand what it is that comprises the faith of Christ; for unless we do, we shall never see the Kingdom.

“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?” James 2:14Faith and works

James is here speaking of the inseparable nature of faith and works.

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26.

Faith which is unaccompanied by works is no faith at all, for “faith without works is dead.” And that which is dead has no existence.

“Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works; show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.” James 2:18

Of Abraham it is said that his faith was imputed to him for righteousness. But James takes the same subject up and says, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” James 2:21.

At first, this would seem to contradict Paul’s statement of Romans 3:28.

“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.” Romans 3:28

But there is no contradiction, as James immediately adds: “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.” Verses 22, 23.

By this we see that Abraham’s faith could not have been imputed to him for righteousness, but for his disposition to work. And since justification has reference to the law of God, it is evident that the works that make perfect the faith that secures justification, must be the works that the law requires.

It was the same with Rahab.

James says, “Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way.” James 2:25.

And Paul says, “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” Heb. 11:31.

Now both of these texts are strictly correct. Rahab was justified by faith; but she would not have been justified by faith if her faith had been merely a simple assent to the fact that God was leading the Israelites. Such a belief as that; would not have been real faith.

It was because she did the works that were required of her that it was seen that she had a strong faith, she heard that God was leading the Israelites into the land of Canaan, and she risked her own life to protect them, and to serve the Lord in His work. And in this secondary sense she was justified by works, since it was her works that testified to the existence of her faith.

In this way we can see that Abraham and Rahab’s faith could not have been imputed to them for righteousness, but for their disposition to work.

These scriptures show how inseparable faith and works are. So closely united are they that the possession of one, presupposes the possession of the other. Yet it must not be forgotten that faith is first. There can be no works where there is no faith.

Now since “faith without works is dead,” it follows as a necessary conclusion, that if a person’s faith is genuine (and if it were not, they could not have been pardoned), it will now be proved by works of obedience.

And therefore the characteristic of the justified person; is that they will be obedient to the Word of God, and that includes obedience to the whole Law, for we know that Jesus came not to change it, but to fulfil it, that is to ratify, establish and teach it. Matthew 5:17.

Which is exactly what He did.

Some will argue that the words of Paul and Silas to the keeper of the prison can be taken to nullify other clear teachings of the Scriptures, but no Scripture can be rightfully interpreted in contradiction to any other.

We read: “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” and, “the just shall live by faith.” 1 John 5:4; Romans 1:17

Now this is literally true, and it is also true as Paul confirms, that “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Rom. 10:9.

As also when the jailer asked, “What shall I do to be saved?” Paul answered him truly, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Acts 16:31.

This may be said to comprise all that is necessary for salvation, because works are included in faith; it follows it as surely as the flowers bloom after the showers of spring. If a man has the faith of Abraham, he will do the works of Abraham; if a man truly believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, he will bring forth works “meet for repentance.”

The purpose of the judgment is to reveal to the universe if repentance, confession, faith and baptism were genuine or not.

The proof of true conversion is a sanctified life, a life that produces works that flow from repentance. God saves us by grace through faith, but He will judge us by our works, because works reveals whether our faith is genuine.

“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent.” Revelation 2:5

For more study on the subject of faith please check out the following links.

Repentance towards God


Faith: What is it, and how do I get it?

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