Faith & Works

When talking about faith and works, we must remember why we distinguish them. We distinguish them because God is clear that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone. In other words we are saved by “faith, apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28). We are saved by Christ Alone plus nothing on our part.

That said, faith alone saves, but faith is never alone, it is always accompanied by works so that we can help our neighbors. We do not reject the fact that good works must be done, but we do question why they are done. Works are not “good” if they are done in order to make God love us more. That turns “works” into the keeping of the Law by which we try to merit salvation. To try to make God love us more with our works says that we really do not believe Jesus when He said, “for by grace you have been saved, through faith, apart from works.” (
Ephesians 2:8-9).

So the questions might be raised, “what good works are to be performed, and what are the criteria of good deeds?” First we must realize that without the Holy Spirit, God’s will can be done only in an outward sense. In other words, it will look good to humanity, but not to God. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we as Christians spontaneously do what the Law demands for the right reason -- a reason emanating from the love of God for us and not for reward or fear of punishment. Just as when someone hits you in the gut and the wind gets knocked out of you, when the Gospel “hits” us in the gut (so to speak), good works get knocked out of us, not because of anything in us, not so that we can earn God’s love or escape punishment, but rather because of what the Gospel (something outside of us) has done to us. Good works are lived out of our vocations.