Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Faith and Works or Faith alone or Works alone?



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)


My Concern

Before I trusted Christ for salvation, I was impressed with how long eternity is and as a result I wanted to be saved for eternity.  Since I have been saved, the matter of eternity has constantly been before me.  Because of that, I earnestly pray for family and friends and contacts that I know.  I want them to be saved FOR ETERNITY.  I am greatly concerned that many people who claim to be Christians are not saved at all.  One of my concerns is that the Bible I read about how Christians should think and act seems to be completely different from what others seem to think the Bible teaches about how Christians should think and act.  While I believe salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone, I also believe that a Christian should have been changed by the Gospel.  If Christians act and think in ways that the Lord would not and could not commend, then I have to wonder what kind of faith they have.


The Question

We know that the Bible teaches that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone saves for eternity.  One of the clearest Scriptures on this issue if found in Ephesians 2:8-10:  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  Now while it is true that we are saved by faith alone and not by works (which in this passage may refer to the works connected with the Old Testament law and ceremonies) we are saved for or unto “GOOD” works.  So can we have faith and not have good works and still be saved?  Or on the other hand,  can we have “good works” without faith in Christ and still be saved?


When we go to our churches today, we may find the preacher making passing references to being saved by faith but most messages have to do with how Christians should live. If we are saved, it is possible to go away from these messages wondering if we are really saved.  If we are not saved, I would think a person might think that it is faith and works but mostly works that really saves.  So which is it?  Are we saved by faith or by works or by faith and works. This is important because salvation is for ETERNITY.


My Conclusion

Having wrestled with this issue for years, this is my conclusion.  We are saved by faith alone in Christ alone.  This has to do with our relationship with God .  However, we also have relationships with our fellow human beings.  And what they know about us is determined by how we act.  James says, “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).”  But we all have some bad works.  We shouldn’t but we do.  So where does that leave us?  One day, I realized that the most of the New Testament epistles were written to correct problems.  Sometimes it was immorality, sometimes it was division, sometimes it was false doctrine, sometimes it was laziness. I  then realized that even the saved in the primitive church had problems with living right after they professed to be saved.  So do good works matter?  Yes!  But do they save for eternity?  No!


I believe that the moment we are saved, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  That should give us a conscience about sin.  A person who says he or she is a believer with no conscience about sin is simply not a believer.  However, believers will struggle with what the Bible calls the flesh.  We will still have problems with sin.  What do we do about this?   We will find as believers that the more time we spend trying to live right in our own strength, the less we will enjoy the Lord.  The less we enjoy the Lord, the less Christ like we will be.


If we are saved by faith alone and if we really want to be Christ-like, we need to quit being occupied with our failures and spend time being occupied with the Lord.  It is said that if you have a glass half full of water and if the water (in this case) represents evil or bad habits, we can try to eliminate the problem by pouring out the water.  That will leave the glass empty and it may ultimately get filled with dirt that is worse than the original water.  On the other hand, we can pour sand into the glass until the water is forced out. Oh yes, the sand will stay wet, but that may dry out in time.  In other words, filling our lives with the Lord and with our spiritual blessings will do more to make us Christ-like than trying to get rid of our bad habits IN OUR OWN STRENGTH.  Emptying the glass without replacing the contents will leave us (the glass) feeling empty and vulnerable.   Often being occupied with good will keep us from being occupied with that which is bad. 


Yes, we are saved by faith alone.  Good works without faith in Christ will not save. But works do matter because we want to please the Lord and we want others to know that the Gospel saves for eternity but also blesses us in this life.  If we spend time enjoying Him, maybe we wouldn’t have so much trouble enjoying the things that Satan would like to use to destroy us.


Frankly, the Christian world today is often not very Christ-like.   We have people claiming to be Christians who have no love for people who are different from them.  They have no sympathy for the poor.  They are exclusive and not inclusive in their supposed display of love.  Sometimes the Gospel is used as a club to control people.  Since salvation is for eternity, let us make sure we have the kind of faith that saves and not the kind of faith that is self-serving and in many cases cruel.  Let us make sure that we have really come as sinners to a loving Savior who wants us to be with Him for eternity and like Him now.  And where we fail, let us admit it.


Let us make sure that we have faith alone in Christ alone and may that be reflected in our lives.  Because this is serious business.  It is for ETERNITY.


Bruce Collins


Meditation for the week of April 29, 2018

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