One of the great debates in the Church since the Scriptures
were written has been, "What place do our works have
regarding the salvation of man?"
A discussion of this subject requires that we are in agreement
as to what this word "work" means. Work, is any
change that takes place as the result of applying energies
and resources which produce results. Regarding the Christian,
"work" can apply to inner change, as well as outward
For us to be saved means that change must first take place
within the heart of man. That is, he must first have a desire
for change, or no change will take place. Once man comes to
the realization that he is a sinner and desires to be made
free from sin, he must come to the cross and acknowledge Jesus
as his Saviour. Without Jesus, there is no hope of change,
as man cannot change his sinful nature.
Sin began with the transgression of Adam. Since that time,
sin has been at work in the heart of every man. To be set
free from this sin nature is the work of faith. It requires
an action on our part - we must come to Jesus.
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into
different kinds of temptations, knowing that the
trying of your faith works patience. But let patience
have its perfect work, so that you may be perfect and
entire, lacking nothing." James 1:2-4
James is saying that the "work" which is necessary,
and which is required of us, is both the process of change
and the end result.
"But become doers of the Word, and not hearers only,
deceiving your own selves. For if anyone is a hearer
of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man studying
his natural face in a mirror. For he studied himself
and went his way, and immediately he forgot what he
"But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty
continues in it, he is not a forgetful hearer, but a
doer of the work. This one shall be blessed in his
doing." James 1:22-25
When the question of faith versus works is presented, many
quote Ephesians 2:8-9:
"For by grace you are saved through faith, and that
of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works lest
anyone should boast."
When a person comes to the Lord seeking and receiving forgiveness,
through the grace of God, his sins of the past are completely
eradicated. He has been converted and the Lord remembers his
sin no more. Through regeneration, He has become a new creation.
However, he must realize that he is yet subject to and can
commit sin. His Adamic nature must now be put to death. It
was the “life of sin” that was eradicated at the
time of salvation. Present “acts of sin” must
now be dealt with separately. From this point onward, there
is a combination of both faith and works that come into action.
We must take up our cross and die to the works of the flesh.
Peter tells us in his second epistle, that by divine power
we can obtain all things that pertain to life and godliness
and be partakers of the divine nature, escaping corruption
through lust. However, if we fail to follow these principles:
faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness,
brotherly love, kindness and charity, then, Peter tells us,
"But he in whom these things are not present is blind,
and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he
was purged from his sins in times past. Therefore,
brethren, rather be diligent to make your calling and
election sure, for if you do these things, you shall
never fall." II Peter 1:9-10
The "doing" of these things is works. Thus, faith
and works are both essential. By faith we receive the gift.
By works we prove it.