Faith that Works

Hanegraaff, Hank-FaithWorks

Are works required to keep your salvation?

The point in James, particularly, teaches that we are saved not by works but by the kind of faith that produces good works. And that’s why James says, “What good is it…if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” (Jas. 2:14).* The rhetorical response, of course, is absolutely not! Just “as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without deeds is dead” (Jas. 2:26)—Faith without deeds is dead.

James goes on to say that a person is not justified by faith alone (Jas. 2:24), and in saying that he means that a person is not justified by mental ascent alone. That’s why he says, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do” (Jas. 2:18). In other words, when you work, you are demonstrating that you have genuine faith, the kind of faith that produces good needs, not mental ascent alone, but faith that produces good works.

You are not saved by what you do, but saving faith does cause you to do good deeds in gratitude for what God has so freely given to us.

This is sort of with James when he says a “person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone” (Jas. 2:24), and then Paul says a man is justified by faith, apart from observing the law (Rom. 3:21ff; Gal. 3:11; Phil. 3:8-11). These words are in harmony because James is countering the false assertion that a said faith is a substitute for a saving faith—by “said faith” I mean someone just saying they believe—and Paul is countering an equally fallacious notion, and that is the notion that salvation can be earned by observing the Law. No it can’t be earned by observing the Law, but those who have genuine faith will observe the Law because they want to be pleasing to the Lawgiver Himself.

For further related study, please see the following:

What is the Biblical Definition of Faith? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Did James teach Salvation by Works? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Do Works Contribute to or Confirm Salvation? Philippians 2:12 in Perspective (Moyer Hubbard)

Do James and Paul Contradict Concerning Grace? (James White)

Robbing Paul to Pay Peter and James (James Patrick Holding)

Understanding the Lordship Salvation Controversy (Bob Lyle)

Adapted from “Are Works Required to Keep Your Salvation.”

* All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), unless noted.

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