We are continuing on our discussion of faith and works. If you have been following along, you know we have been looking at passages from James’s book, specifically chapter 2, verses 14 – 26.
James 2:18 says, “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.”
Today, we are looking at some of Paul’s passages on faith and works.
Our verse of the day comes from Ephesians 2:4-10.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses made us alive together with Christ – by grace, you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
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 worse, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Let’s dig in.
No human effort can contribute to our salvation; it is the gracious gift of God.
We cannot earn salvation by the word of the law.
Romans 3:20, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law, we become conscious of our sin.”
Romans 3:27-28, “Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”
You cannot get to heaven on works alone.
Let’s look back for a moment.
In our last lesson, we see that James refers to Abraham as an example of faith and works.
Paul uses Abraham as an example because he too knows his audience is familiar with Abraham. He holds Abraham up as an example of righteousness by faith and not by works alone. If Abraham was justified by works alone, he could boast in what he did, and his boasting would be counted as excluded.
When you read Abraham’s account in Genesis 15:6, we see that Abraham kept no law, performed no service, and no ritual that earned him some credit to his account before God. It was Abraham’s belief in God that credited him as righteousness.
Remember the audience.
We need to remember that both Paul and James are speaking to Jews. They both know how familiar the Jews are with the book of the law and with Abraham.
Paul emphasizes that it is not by works that you are saved, but by believing in Jesus Christ; it is a gift from God so that no one can boast. It is faith alone in Christ alone.
James says that our faith will encourage us to do good works in which the Father has prepared in advance for us to do.
We cannot take credit for our own salvation because it is a gift from God.
By grace, we have been saved through faith.
God has designed us to do good works.
Our faith should lead us to do the good works the Lord has designed us to do. The question is – are you doing them?