Jesus for Life
FAITH and WORKS
We are justified by faith, and not by any works we may do. [Even our faith itself is a gift from God!]
Because we have been justified, we AFTERWARDS work for God naturally, in appreciation of His gift and His love.
Scripture teaches us that God justifies sinners as a gift of His grace.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, 'We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.' (Acts 11:18 - NLT)
The Bible teaches us that there is no work we can do to merit any reward from God. If we do not embrace Christ Jesus as our one and only saviour, as we are all fallen sinners, we have no hope of salvation.
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. (John 3:18)
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)
The Bible teaches us that justification CANNOT be earned; it is a gift. God justifies sinners as a gift by His grace.
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. ( Romans 3:22-24)
Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. (Romans 4:4)
If God does something by grace, then it is not on the basis of works. This is why God does not ask sinners (all of us) to work for our justification, but to believe. He justifies those who believe in the one he has sent.
And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:6)
he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:26)
Then they asked him, 'What must we do to do the works God requires?'
Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.' (John 6:28-29)
For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. (Romans 3:28)
What does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.' (Romans 4:3)
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (Romans 5:1)
However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. (Romans 4:5)
The Bible tells us that the ONLY requirement for our justification is faith. Some say that James 2:24 tells us that both faith and good works are necessary for our salvation. However this is taking the verse completely out of its context.
You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. (James 2:24)
James is writing to people who already profess to be Christians. In James 2:14-26 he argues that if our faith is true faith, then it will show itself to others in good works. Our 'good works' are not prerequisites to our justification, but the consequence of our justification. James shows us that true faith shows itself in good deeds. A 'faith' that is only 'talk' is a dead 'faith' and a useless 'faith'. James gives us the example of Abraham as a person who had real faith which was manifested by good works.
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.'
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder.
You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,' and he was called God's friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:14-26)
It is important to note that James 2:24 is not an explanation of how Abram was justified by God. The chronology of Abram's life makes this clear. When Abram was 80 years old we have Genesis 15 when Abram was justified for his faith. When he was maybe 108 years old we have Genesis 22 when Abraham was blessed for his faith and obedience.
After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
'Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.'
But Abram said, 'O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?' And Abram said, 'You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.'
Then the word of the Lord came to him: 'This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.' He took him outside and said, 'Look up at the heavens and count the stars — if indeed you can count them.' Then he said to him, 'So shall your offspring be.'
Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:1-6 )
'Do not lay a hand on the boy,' he said. 'Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.'
Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, 'On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.'
The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, 'I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.' (Genesis 22:12-18)
As recorded in Genesis 15, when God promised Abram that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars of heaven above, Abram took God at his word. The Scriptures say that Abram “believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). This was the basis of God's justification of Abram. The Lord, in response to Abram's faith, credited righteousness to Abram's account. God declared Abram to be righteous in His sight simply because he believed. No good works were involved.
If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about — but not before God. What does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.' (Romans 4:2-3)
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
The good news of Jesus Christ is that God receives sinners just as they are. He justifies the ungodly. That is good news, for until a person is born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, he cannot be anything other than what he actually is; an ungodly sinner in nature, thoughts and actions.
However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. (Romans 4:5)
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.' (Romans 1:17)
For this reason, God does not require sinners to reform their lives before He will justify them. Instead God calls sinners to repentance.
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. (Acts 17:30)
Repentance is a response to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. It is a change of heart and mind affecting an individual's view of both God and himself. The person stops making excuses for his evil conduct. He takes sides against himself and acknowledges his guilt before God. He tells God he is sorry for his rebellion and that he is willing to submit to the Lord's rightful authority over his life.
(Jesus said to his disciples:) But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. (John 16:7-11)
First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. (Acts 26:20)
... for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead — Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10)
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – (Romans 6:6)
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:5-11)
Of course, not everyone repents. Many people believe they will pass the test without a total reliance on Jesus' saving work on the cross. They consider themselves to be pretty good people. And, sadly, the Bible tells us that these people will perish at the last day.
Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. (Romans 10:3)
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15)
But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.' (Matthew 9:13)
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men — robbers, evildoers, adulterers — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
'But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'
'I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.' (Luke 18:9-14)
An example of faith in action:
Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, 'If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is — that she is a sinner.'
Jesus answered him, 'Simon, I have something to tell you.'
'Tell me, teacher,' he said.
'Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?'
Simon replied, 'I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled.'
'You have judged correctly,' Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.'
Then Jesus said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.'
The other guests began to say among themselves, 'Who is this who even forgives sins?'
Jesus said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.' (Luke 7:36-50)