Can faith alone save us? Can works alone save us? Questions that are commonly asked regarding the Christian life, but also questions that commonly get answered incorrectly. We are justified by faith indeed, but what shows for that faith? “But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18). Let’s explore the truth of justification through faith and how works should be seen through our faith.
“But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.” (Romans 4:5). We are justified through faith in Christ and God the Father, but do works justify us also? Works do justify us as they show our faith in action, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” (James 2:24). When we walk with the Lord daily then our connection is with Him and He then dwells within us and therefore produces fruit through us, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5,6).
Believing in Jesus and the power of His death on the cross justifies and saves us, but works shows believers the way in which all believers should live and shows the unbelievers the power of God. We are servants of God and should glorify Him to the utmost, but that does not mean we can go looking for work to do, but instead allowing God to take us to work or bring us work that He wants us to do. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” (James 2:21,22).
The Lord told Abraham to offer his only son and therefore brought him work to do and took him to the place in which he would fulfill it. We are to be the light of the world and no one can see the light of your faith without the work of God being done through you, “Let you light so shine before me, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). If we do not shine any light and produce no fruit, then what is our faith worth? We are to utilize the talents the Lord blesses us with to glorify Him the more.
By the leading of the Holy Spirit do we know where to go and what to do for the Lord. By faith we are saved and led, by the working of the Holy Spirit do we produce fruit and shine the light of God to the world. “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:11). Faith is the main product needed in a Christian life and works is the by product by which the Holy Spirit shines through us to the world. Works does nothing without faith, and faith is nothing without works being shown through our faith.