There has been an argument on this topic since Jesus’ time. Which is most important, faith or works. By which are we judged? By which do we show ourselves to the world? By which are we separated? By which are we justified? By which to we set example for others? The list goes on.
Some point to the importance of works saying that when God says “Well done good and faithful servant” he will be referring to the works that have been done. Some put so much emphasis on works that they spend their whole lives doing good works. Is this bad? In and of itself, I would say no. There are amazing people who have done incredible works that I’m sure God is very proud of. There is absolutely nothing wrong with works.
Then there are others that say it’s all about faith. Simple have faith and that’s all you need. Simply believe and you have eternal life. Remember, Jesus said “Your faith has made you well”. Paul points out in Romans 3:28 “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” After all, if it were about works, some could boast better works than others. Would you have to do more works to cover one sin than another sin? If you later sinned again, does that mean more works? Would it ever be done? No, therefore it’s all about our faith.
The truth is these are both true (and yet false). You see there are actually a couple steps required for us to be eternally reunited with God the Father.
- First we must have faith. The very moment we acknowledge Christ as our Lord and Savior, accepting Him into our heart, we are saved. This is a moment in time, our salvation is done, once and permanent. Our name is now written into the Book of Life.
- Second, we ‘work out our faith‘. If we really believe what we say we believe, then we will show that in an outward fashion. This will come in several ways. In our love for others, we will seek ways to serve them, not out of obligation but out of love. “They will know we are Christians by our love”. While some of this love is shown by our serving others… another way we show that love is by sharing this faith of ours. Jesus told us to “Go and make (both action words of work, not faith) disciples of all nations”. If we truly believe that our ‘faith’ in Christ will save us from eternal damnation and permanent separation from God, then ‘working’ to share this with others will just come naturally.
- Finally reunited in the end. While we receive the Holy Spirit upon accepting Him as our Lord (thus starting the communion with God), we don’t have total and full communion with Him until the end times.
Some focus mainly on faith while others focus mainly on works. I say they’re both wrong. James said it best in James 2:18 “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”. Actually v 14-26 are all good reading but his point is very clear in this one statement.
Show your faith, by your works. Don’t work to earn something, not to earn favor (for that is not yours to earn), not to earn grace (for that is freely given). Work to show your faith, not to God (for He knows your faith before you do) but to others so they may see your faith and be inspired. Perhaps your work out of pure love will inspire them to want to know this Lord you serve. Then when they come to have faith as well, then the Heavens will truly rejoice.