One common misconception about faith in God is that works are not required to be both in right standing with God, and to live with him eternally. However, this assertion could not be further from the truth. Let’s explore the reasons why.
Faith without Works is Dead
James 2:14-26 is pretty clear that faith that is not backed up by works that supports the faith is no faith at all. In fact, James provides an example of what is meant by the statement above by referencing someone in need (verses 15-16) of food and/or clothing. As James asserts in the text, if you say to that person: “go and be warmed and filled” without providing the things that they needed, you didn’t demonstrate anything.
He then provides the Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham demonstrated his faith to God by actually preparing Isaac for sacrifice as he had been commanded by God. However,God stopped the sacrifice from occurring as he was satisfied with the action or works that Abraham performed prior to the sacrifice.
You see it wouldn’t have been enough for Abraham to simply say: “God I would gladly sacrifice my son if you want me to do so”. Genesis 22:3 says that he got up early to do so. What an incredible demonstration of faith!
Consider James 2:19-20 (NASB): “19You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?”
Your Works are Your “Fruit”
Both Matthew 3:10 and Matthew 7:19 indicate that every tree (symbolic language for you and me) that does not bear good fruit (works) is cut down (cast out) and thrown into the fire (eternal punishment, hell).
John 15:2 says that if we bear fruit he (Jesus) will prune us (adjust, help, correct) to produce more fruit. Furthermore, Jesus says that he have to be connected to him as he is “the vine” and we are the branches. If we have not obediently followed his commandments so that we connect with him (e.g. Mark 16:16) we are not able to produce good fruit. The reason being that we can do nothing outside of him that would be pleasing to God.
Christ Demonstrated His Love Through His Works
It wasn’t enough for Christ to come to this earth and tell everyone that he loves them, God loves them, etc. Instead, he demonstrated his love through his works. For example, the miracles that he performed, the care and forgiveness that he offered, the teaching, insight, commandments and ultimately, his death on the cross for the redemption of mankind.
The notion that one would simply need to just become a Christian without the requirement of works as if this same person would be justified before God on judgement day is simply false. This isn’t to say that your works will save you. The works part of the christian’s life should be seen as faith demonstrated and no more than that.