The biblical faith demands that the Christian understands if salvation is by faith alone or works.
This is important because it forms the firm foundation of a victorious Christian living and establishes the justification by grace in Christ Jesus in the heart of a believer.
A lack of this understanding has given birth to many Christians with phony faith and a falling away while trying to please God by works.
Is Salvation By Faith and Works?
Over the years, the Christian faith has had grey areas in understanding God’s salvation through faith or works. However, having the scriptural perspective will help establish the relationship between faith and works.
First, what is salvation, and how does it relate to God and man?
Salvation is the redemption of humans from sin (the power of Satan)and its consequences (the wrath of God).
This definition shows us that a person (God) is doing a particular work to save human beings. Therefore, God needed to redeem man to a position where he’s qualified to be an extension of God on earth.
So the question worth asking is why couldn’t the humans carry out the redemptive work themselves? The simple answer is that humans cannot redeem themselves according to God’s requirements.
This is because they could no longer meet the righteous needs of God due to the sinful nature inherited from Adam.
There is no better way to understand this than looking into the person God called the father of faith.
Abraham Justified By Faith And Not Works
“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast in, but not before God.” (Romans 4:2-3) This verse gives the scriptural perspective of Abraham’s justification by faith and not works.
Abraham was justified because he exercised true faith by believing God. This was accounted for righteousness to him.
Because God doesn’t want any man to boast before Him, He provided a means of salvation for man: His salvation by grace.
It is a gift because man doesn’t have to do anything other than to receive the gift of grace just by believing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
How does the story of Abraham relate to the believer today?
Abraham was made the father of faith not because he did righteous works before God but because he believed God. Therefore, Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness (Romans 4:3).
Today, Jesus Christ has been made propitiation for the sins committed by Adam, which every human being inherited.
And God is asking for no human action, but if you believe that Jesus Christ came to die for your sins and was raised from the dead on the third day, you will be saved (John 3:16).
The book of Romans 4: 2-3 sheds light on the divine grace of God, which is on the basis of faith and not works.
Salvation By Faith Is A Gift Of God
Salvation is a gift of God for eternal life through Christ Jesus. When it is a gift, it means God voluntarily transfers it to the recipient without compensation. However, the recipient only has to believe God’s way of receiving it in this case.
For by grace, you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves; It is the gift of God; Not of works that no one should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
God will be unjust to make His salvation by works. It will no longer be salvation by faith because faith is the conviction of things not seen.
Salvation Is By Grace Through Faith
For by grace, you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves; It is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8); God’s grace is the saving of man from eternal punishment through the atonement of Jesus Christ.
This grace avails the forgiveness of sins and the true saving faith that empowers man to live a perfect life before God. However, to enjoy this grace, man must receive what God has made the way of His salvation by faith.
Can Faith Save Without Works?
The verses in James 2:14–26 explain a different context on salvation many people find confusing.
In James 2:14, the verse relates to believers who have already received God’s objective salvation in Christ Jesus. This salvation involves the saving of man’s spirit from everlasting punishment.
However, man still has the subjective work of salvation to carry out, which is the soul’s transformation by renewing the mind.
What is the profit my brothers, if anyone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him (James 2:14)?
The phrase “if anyone says he has faith” implies the writer spoke to those who have already come into genuine faith.
The Christian faith becomes a genuine saving faith when the believers understand they are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).
These good works are not what anyone defines as good, but the good works according to God’s will necessary to live a proper Christian life. Therefore, a Christian faith void of such good works is dead.
In James 2:17–20, the writer further emphasized these points to convey the importance of good works when you are in the faith.
A genuine saving faith that includes good works qualifies the believer to receive the crown of life, have their names written in the book of life, and grant them an eternal destiny.