There seems to be a misunderstanding of the relationship between “works” and “faith.” Some Believers are insistent that works are an evidence of man’s relationship to God, while others are consistent in the fact that their faith establishes their standing with God. We must all come to the agreement that whatever our tie to God is, it begins with God working in us through the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul writes that God is always working in His people and will continue to do so until “…the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philip. 1:6) God wants to make us a living example of Himself. Many times we get in the way by attempting to develop into a person that we think will bring God pleasure. The more involved we are in our construction, the more we can become estranged from God. Works do not assure us of the Kingdom of Heaven, rather they reflect the Kingdom of God within us. Works by themselves do not gain God’s favor, but are a response to God’s favor. Works are the horizontal evidence of the working of God within you. We must also make a distinction between Christian and secular works. The world is full of good works, but works based upon horizontal concerns alone have a limited effect. You can feed and clothe the poor. You can give financially and socially, but the effectiveness is limited to time and circumstances. The Christian’s work is also concerned about the poor and fulfilling their needs, but it goes further than that. While the world works to change the outer man, the Believer is also concerned with changing the inner man. The work of the Church is not only to minister to the immediate needs of man, but also to help establish his future standing with God. Jesus continually ministered to the outward needs of the multitudes, while at the same time offer an eternal change.
The Old Testament is filled with mans works done with the objective of impressing and evidencing loyalty to God. God rejected these efforts for He saw the heart of man was faithless. Today we “take courses in Christian language development” by learning to talk the way other Believers do in order to show we are part of the Body of Christ. We then display our works to validate our commitment to God. If we are not careful, works will be substituted for faith. One cannot please God without faith. One cannot please God by works alone. Faith brings you into the presence of God, while works brings a God consciousness into the lives of others through us. To view works as a way to God is to limit our understanding of Biblical truths. Faith is vertical. Works are horizontal. As we walk by faith (trusting in Him) we will reach out by works (revealing Him.) Works are the fulfilling of our commission to go into all the world and present the Gospel. Works will never save anyone, but the result of works can bring people into the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Works open the door to faith. The way to God is through faith, not works. Works presents the Gospel, while faith accepts the Gospel. If the Believer looks at works as his evidence of salvation, he does not understand Grace.
Always remember that Faith looks up and accepts God’s Word, while Works look out and display the Grace of God.
Brother Paul, You have raised this subject that was much debated in the past. Thank you for some fresh insights and for your conclusion. The corollary of your article surely is that both faith and works are essential to every Christian. James said, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." (James 2:17) Paul on the other hand said, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1) Through faith in the Lord, people are saved (Justified, made right with God) but nobody should claim to be saved if their life is bereft of good works, because good works are the fruit of being saved (Matthew 3:8). Believers need to stop picking sides as if the two concepts faith and works are oxymoron. You put it well in your conclusion, "Faith looks up and accepts God’s Word, while Works look out and display the Grace of God." Well done and happy retirement.