Previously, we discussed the necessity of faith in one’s life if eternal salvation is the ultimate goal. We called it the “most basic building block for anyone who would desire a relationship with God.” However, is faith alone enough to save anyone? Let us turn to the Bible and see what God has to say about it.
In Luke 6:46, Jesus asked a very simple question: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” With this question, Jesus calls to our attention the difference between having a mental belief system (what we often refer to as faith) and actually doing something with that belief system. Anyone calling Jesus “Lord” would be acknowledging that He is their Master. Only a religious person would do this. But, Jesus questions the validity of any servant who would declare a master and then not obey him.
The entire chapter of James 2 defines for us the difference between the kinds of faith that are pleasing and displeasing to God. James asks a question similar to Jesus’ in James 2:14: “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” He answers the question with an illustration in verses 15 & 16: “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” Then comes the conclusion in verse 17: “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”
James describes two types of faith: a living faith and a dead faith. Which do you think is acceptable to God? No one in their right mind would argue that God wants anyone to have a dead faith. Yet, without realizing what they are saying, that is exactly what many in the religious world are declaring when they argue that faith alone is enough to save!
When one claims that belief in God by itself is enough to obtain eternal salvation, James responds in verse 19 by saying, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” In other words, one who only believes in God and does not put that belief into action is no different from and no better off than the demons!
In order to receive eternal life, one must obey all that the Bible teaches. It would certainly be easier if faith alone was all that was necessary, but that simply is not God’s plan. James 2:20 describes a faith without works as being “useless,” and verse 26 calls it “dead.” In addition, verse 24 of James 2 sums up the entire discussion: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”
Faith and works walk hand in hand. Neither is more important than the other. Both are essential in order to possess the living, vibrant faith that God requires of each of us in order to be saved.
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