Thursday, September 8, 2016

Faith and works

James 2:14 "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?" ESV

Ephesians 2:8-9 " 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." ESV

These two verses seem to contradict one another, but actually, together, they help to make the idea of grace, faith and works very clear.

Fact: Grace is God's work. God extends grace to us in spite of our sin. The fact of grace is what saves us, no matter what we do. We can choose whether or not to believe (or have faith) in this fact.

If we have faith that God extends grace to us, that belief requires effort. If we do not put effort into believing the fact of God's grace, our faith become useless, but useless faith does not negate the fact that we are saved by grace.

Faith requires much work, but it is not that work of faith that saves us. I have had people tell me that I have a lot of faith. But what they are actually telling me is that they have seen that I have put a lot of work into my faith. My faith in itself is small, and I have to constantly feed it in order for it to survive. Feeding our faith requires that we love God and pray or communicate with Him.

In James 2, James asks the question, if a person has faith but does nothing to bolster his faith, is that kind of faith able to save him? James intends for the answer to the question to be no. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2 that it is GRACE that saves us by the process of (or through the works of) faith. Not by any works of faith alone.

So, if we do not actively exercise our faith by seeking God regularly, does that mean that we will not be saved? The answer is no. God does not require that we pray to Him every morning in order to be saved. But, without praying and getting to know God better (which is the work of faith), we will not know the joy that comes with living a life close to God.