Where do good works fit?
I will use both James and Paul to help us. We read in James 2:24-26 “You see that a man is justified by works [Proven to be righteous] and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
True faith in Jesus Christ will be accompanied by good works. A person who has been justified by faith alone will exhibit a changed life. She will begin the road to becoming more like Jesus Christ. Rehab believed God and demonstrated that belief by saving the messengers. If someone doesn’t display good works, James says that faith is dead; it is non-existent.
Doing good works is part of God’s plan. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
Good works are a demonstration of a true faith. The Bible is without knowledge of a faith that doesn’t do good works. This is why the book of James is so important. He gives us the classic verse, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” A person who claims to be a Christian and there is no evidence, James clearly condemns that person. That faith is dead! Those are strong words but they don’t come from me. The Bible says a genuine faith will result in becoming more like Jesus. Not attaining perfection but moving in the right direction.
And God will help us in this process of growth. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:10 that God prepares good works for us ahead of time. He has a plan for our life and wants to use us to do good deeds. Paul writes, “We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works.” What are some examples of good works?
- Sharing our faith – 2 Corinthians 5:20 “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
As ambassadors we are commanded to share our faith. Evangelism is not an option, it is a command. God’s plan is to reach those outside the faith and He will use us as His ambassadors to accomplish that task. We have the privilege of taking God’s message of reconciliation to a world that needs Jesus. It is the work of the Holy Spirit that places that desire in the life of a believer. Another good work God prepares for us is…
- Using our gifts in ministry – 1 Peter 4:10-11 “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Christ’s body (the church) functions best when all believers use their gifts in the service of others. All true believers have been given at least one spiritual gift and we are to use these gifts to serve one another. A typical church has multiple ministries with many needs. God wants us to get involved. We need to identify our gifts and use them to serve the body. My last example is we are to…
- Become more like Christ – 1 Peter 1:14-15 “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;”
God saved us to become like Jesus. He lived a sinless and holy life and we are to model our lives after Him. This means moving in the right direction, knowing sinless perfection is impossible. Fortunately, God helps us by sending us the Holy Spirit.
Good works cannot save you but a true faith will lead to good works. James does not contradict Paul but is complimentary. James challenges us to examine our faith to make sure it is genuine. If your life over time is not moving you to become more like Jesus, James says your faith is dead.
The North County writer who wrote the Bible teaches goods works saves you (part 1), needed to examine the scriptures a little closer. Paul didn’t invent the doctrine of saved by grace through faith, it is taught throughout the Bible.
Many people are going to be separated from God for all eternity because they believe they are good enough to earn heaven. As followers of Jesus Christ it is our privilege to share the good news of the free gift of grace. We are saved by grace through faith and not by works. You cannot earn heaven.
When I shared with the administrative assistant (part 1) at my school how good works cannot satisfy God and then gave her some illustrations, she finally understood the truth. A few days later she placed her faith in Jesus Christ. Now she is saved to do good works. And so is every believer in Jesus Christ.