“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
When you put your faith in Jesus Christ, you are saved from the penalty of death, imposed on you because of your sin, and granted eternal life. This is a free gift, granted to you by the grace of God. There is nothing else you need to do. Jesus died on the cross for your sin and nothing else is needed for your Salvation. If you add anything else to the equation, Jesus will have died in vain.
Just as you can’t jump into a swimming pool without getting wet, you cannot have genuine faith in Jesus without turning from sin and seeking to serve God by serving others. This is the natural expression of your faith. I have a particularly troubling example that you may have also experienced. Often when someone at church tells another person about a certain problem they are facing, a common response will be an offer of prayer. “I will pray for you!” This, my friends, is a clear example of faith without works. The proper response should be, “How can I help?” While the offer of prayer is absolutely heartfelt and in most cases well-received, it honestly falls short of what a true believer’s response should be.
“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:15-17 (NIV)
In the book of James we learn that Abraham was considered righteous by obeying God. His deed or “works” demonstrated his faith. God tested Abraham by telling him to sacrifice his son on the altar to prove he loved God even more than his own son, and Abraham did as he was commanded by God. Fortunately, God did not allow Abraham to take his son’s life, but because he was willing to do so, he demonstrated honest faith
“Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” James 2:21-22 (NIV)
Faith and actions work together – they are one and the same. Your efforts to serve God by serving others are the beating heart of your faith; nevertheless, it is not your good deeds that have saved you from your sin, it is your faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – it is a free gift granted to you by the grace of God that delivers your salvation. Praise God for your salvation and keep the heart of your faith beating.
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:26 (NIV)
All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context. Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations. In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon. Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.