Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Faith and Works--A 50/50 Deal?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Conservative Christians for hundreds of years have discussed (even argued) the relationship between faith and works. Their favorite word used to describe it is "balance." The popular idea is that one must hold faith and works in "balance." If you talk about faith for ten minutes then you must also talk about works for ten minutes. However, a check of the concordance reveals that nowhere in the Bible is the word "balance" used to describe this relationship. In inspired writings, there is practically nothing to suggest the use of that word as being appropriate.

Scripture and inspired writings are clear "beyond question" that salvation is totally by grace through faith, and Paul even goes out of his way to add, "Not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph. 2:8, 9). The "balance" idea strongly suggests that salvation is by faith and by works, a 50/50 deal. Which if true, would certainly give the saved ones something to boast about: "yes, Jesus saved me, but look, I did my part too!"

One popular little book is entitled Faith And Works, the title having been added by editors long after the author's death. Yet inside the covers, the original author repeatedly speaks of the correct formula as being "faith which works."

Yes, the Bible is true; there is only one Savior, Jesus; none of us is a co-savior. It's not a 50/50 salvation trip; it's 100% salvation by Christ, received by faith. But the faith is not the "dead faith" that the apostle James decries (James 2:20). A "dead faith" can produce nothing except self-righteousness (which doesn't have a very nice fragrance!). A living faith works; it has to work; it will work; it always works. ("Works" here is a verb and not a noun.)

What is faith? How does the Bible define it? It is not a synonym for works! The devil hates the idea of salvation by faith alone, by faith which works. If in any way he can inject into our thinking the idea that faith is itself works, then he has us deceived. John 3:16 has it: "God loved," "God gave," and we "believe." Faith is a human heart response to God's loving and giving. "With the heart one believes to righteousness" (Rom. 10:10). "Beware, ... lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief" (Heb. 3:12).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 6, 2007.

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