The role works play in making our Christian faith transformative
In part 1 of this two-part series, we discovered several very clear scriptural statements and lines of reasoning that showed us we are justified by faith. Having established that, the most obvious next question is, what about works? How does the Bible define “works of faith”? Is it a work of faith to go to church, or is that just a result of faith? Is financially contributing to your church considered a work of faith, or is it just a good thing to do? Are there certain things every Christian is required to do, or is it all based on who you are? To what degree is our pathway to heaven based on works? How do we know if we are doing enough?
The bottom line is, you can't live a life of faith without works.
As Christians, we often to get focused on a specific scriptural phrase and make it the centerpiece for our belief system. This can be a good or bad thing. To focus on the scriptural phrase “God is love” is a good thing, as the rest of the Bible powerfully confirms this. The flip side is when we point out that the Bible says we are "justified by faith" and end it there. Another Scripture says that God justifies, so does that mean faith doesn’t? James repeats that works are part of justification. Does that mean God and faith play no role? Of course not.
If someone says you need food to survive, they’re right. Someone else says you need water to survive, and they are right. Yet a third person says you need shelter to survive, and they are also right. The fact is, you need all three. Similarly, you simply cannot live a justified life without
- faith in the ransom of Jesus
- God applying that ransom to you individually, and then
- doing the works of a justified person.
So, what are the works a true Christian must engage in?
It turns out there are many and varied. We see evidence of these works of faith throughout the entire New Testament. Jesus began our understanding of them by showing us a big picture approach. When he taught the Sermon on the Mount, he said his followers were to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Basically, he was telling us that we have powerful influence on the world around us. We need to work at preserving godly righteousness by being “salty” and lighting the way to godliness by shining out God’s truth through our lives.
These are the big picture start. Check out our December 14, 2020 podcast, “Is It Faith or Works That Gets Us to Heaven? (Part II)” for more. We uncover many of the Christian works we are called upon to do and lay out the details on what they require. Join us as we walk through the practicality of actually being a Christian!
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