Tag: Faith and works in salvation

Genuine Faith: The Faith that Saves

Genuine Faith: The Faith that Saves

How many times have you actually heard people say, “We are saved by faith alone and not by works so all we have to do is believe in order to be saved? Yes, you heard it right! Just believe and you are saved.” But is that really what the Bible teaches? That we just have to believe and we are saved? Sounds pretty easy, right? Considering that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

And what’s the payment for our sins? Death (Romans 6:23)! This Bible verse is referring to spiritual death which means separation from God. Every man born after Adam has inherited a sinful nature and so we all have been alienated from God and are destined to suffer for eternity.

If salvation is just a matter of believing, in what should we believe? Or whom should we believe?

Years ago, a close friend and relative of mine confided in me how she has struggled with this for quite some time. She just couldn’t comprehend how God could find it very easy for us to obtain salvation. Is God’s salvation that cheap? Surely not!

God paid a very dear price for our salvation. You can read all about it here: What is the Cost of Our Salvation?

We are not saved by believing in some fairy tales that people have made up. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are saved by putting our trust in what the Lord Jesus has accomplished for us when He suffered and died, and when He was raised to life to conquer death once and for all.

Faith Defined

So what is faith? The dictionary defines faith as belief, trust, fidelity, or loyalty to a creed or religion. The Bible, however, defines faith as the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen”(Hebrews 11:1).

2 Kinds of Faith in Regard to Salvation

Head Belief 

This is a knowledge of the historical Christ and a general acceptance of the Bible.

Personal saving faith, as Scripture defines it, involves more than mere knowledge. Of course, it is necessary for us to have some knowledge of who Christ is and what He has done. But knowledge about the facts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is not enough because many people who know the facts may still rebel against them or dislike them.

Paul tells us in the book of Romans 8:32 that many people know God’s laws but dislike them. Even the demons know who God is and know the facts about Jesus’ life and saving works (James 2:19). But that knowledge certainly does not mean that the demons are saved.

Heart Belief 

This is faith from the heart that causes the person to act on his faith.

In addition to knowledge of the facts of the Gospel and the approval of those facts, in order to be saved, we must make a decision to depend on Jesus to save us. We then move from being an interested observer of the facts of salvation and the teachings of the Scriptures to being someone who enters into a new relationship with Jesus Christ as a living person.

True faith in Christ is believing to the extent of receiving Christ as personal Lord and Savior (John 1:12).

Neither knowledge nor assent is true faith; true faith or saving faith involves appropriation. Saving faith is not just a belief in facts but personal trust in Jesus to save us. Because saving faith as defined by the Word of God involves personal trust. The word “trust” is a better word to use in contemporary culture than the word “faith” or belief.”

Acts 16:31 says, “And they said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ … ”; “on” not “in”.

If we are to use an illustration, let’s say a sick man has a bottle of medicine. He believes in the medicine, that if taken he would recover. But if he believes on the medicine, he will act on his belief and actually take the medicine.

Faith is not the blind act of the soul. Instead, faith in God rests upon the best evidence, the infallible Word of God. Faith is trust in the God of the Scriptures and in Jesus Christ whom He has sent, thus making a person receive Him as Savior and Lord, and impels loving obedience and good works on his part.

The faith that saves is a personal trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Works as Evidence of a Genuine Faith

So how can we say that our faith is real or genuine? James, the Lord’s brother, says works are the evidence of genuine faith (James 2:14). We do not add works to faith in order to be saved but genuine faith results in good works because faith without works is dead.

No, James is not in any way contradicting the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith. While Paul’s letters to the Romans and Galatians places emphasis on justification by faith in order to be saved, James on the other hand while not denying the necessity of faith in order to be saved, was insisting that genuine faith must produce works.

It should be noted that Paul’s focus were Gentile believers being influenced by Judaizers (Jews who have converted to Christianity) telling them they had to keep the O.T. Law to be justified, while James was addressing believers who claim to have faith but are not displaying the characteristics of genuine faith.

James is protesting the hypocrisy of pretending to have faith without demonstrating it in works (James 2:18).

Genuine Faith: The faith that saves

James is not saying that works are at odds with faith. There can be no “justification by works” because no one can do good works unless he has already faith (trust) in God. James doesn’t mean that faith can exist without works, but any faith that doesn’t lead to works is dead; in other words, it is no faith at all (James 2:26).

Christians are not commanded to work for the benefit of others in need instead of trusting in Christ, or in addition to placing faith in Christ. Christians are expected to work for the benefit of others in need as a result of their faith in Christ.

Conclusion

What kind of faith saves? Faith that is genuine, faith that is living and produces good works. James 2:15-16 talks about the futility of words without deeds. Like faith without works, words without deeds are empty and meaningless. Faith and works are inseparable.

Faith alone saves us but it must be a living, genuine faith. Genuine faith will produce good works; it will be accompanied by action. James 2:17 says we can tell if faith is alive by seeing if it is accompanied by works, and if it does not have works it is dead, for dead faith produces nothing!

Genuine faith always leads to practical action. We cannot divide the world into practical and spiritual, for the spiritual is practical. James 2:22 says that Abraham’s faith was active along with his works. Therefore, we can never say, “I believe in Jesus and I go to church, but I keep my personal faith out of my works.” James 2:24 challenges us to work out our commitment to Christ in our daily activities.

Every day, we have opportunities to meet the needs of people we work for and among. It can be as simple as making sure a confused customer finds the right item for their need or noticing that a new co-worker needs help but is afraid to ask. James urges us to take special concern for those who are vulnerable or marginalized, and we may need to practice noticing who these people are at our places of work.


Recommended Resource: A Deeper Look at James: Faith That Works (Life Guide in Depth) by Andrew T. Le Peau and Phyllis J. Le Peau

A deep look at Scripture―God’s very words―is never wasted. In fact, not only is it never wasted; it’s richly rewarded. The more deeply we dive into the riches of the Bible, the more deeply we can experience and serve God, the giver of all truth, wisdom, love, and understanding.

The new LifeGuide® in Depth Bible Studies help you do just that, taking you further into themes and books of Scripture than you might have gone before. As you see new connections between the Old and New Testament, gain an understanding of the historical and cultural background of passages, engage in creative exercises, and concretely apply what you’ve learned, you’ll be amazed at the breadth of the knowledge and wisdom you gain and the transformation God can work in you as you meet him in his Word.

Each session provides enough material for a week’s worth of Scripture study along with a weekly group discussion guide that pulls all of the elements together. This guide is based on and includes the inductive Bible study James from the bestselling LifeGuide® Bible Study Series – only now it has been expanded for a new kind of study experience.

In A Deeper Look at James, you’ll discover:

  • how often James leans on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in giving instructions
  • how to know if you’re truly being “quick to listen” (hint: it involves much more than just your ears)
  • how the different financial situations you?ve been in may have affected your faith
  • how you can participate in God’s work to bring justice on earth
  • and much more.

If you’re longing to go deeper in your understanding of God and his Word, LifeGuide® in Depth Bible Studies are for you. These new studies will meet your need for both rich, solidly researched content and personal application. They’ll meet your need for Bible study that challenges your head and your heart. Most of all, we pray you’ll meet God in them.