“Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17). In this passage, the word “works” means “corresponding actions.” In other words, your actions correspond (line up) with what you believe. If you have faith, then you will have corresponding action. But action without corresponding faith is just as dead. According to James, you must believe right…and live right.
Good works do not make faith come alive; good works are simply evidence that your faith is alive. You are not saved by faith and works; you are saved by faith that works. True faith will always have corresponding action. If you really believe, you will have corresponding actions in your life. If there is no corresponding action, there is no faith either. The grace in our lives is proved by the “good works” we do. The Reformers said, “It is faith, alone, which saves; but the faith that saves is not alone.”
Works prove you have faith. If you have faith, then you will exhibit the fruit of 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). Our actions should line up with what we believe. One good example of this is the sacrament of baptism. Being dunked in water does not have any power to save you by itself; otherwise every child at the public swimming pool would be saved. However, baptism is important because it is an outward sign of an inward conversion. The deed of baptism does not save you, but it is a sign (evidence) that you are saved.
Works makes our faith perfect. “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:22-24). Faith is not perfect without works. Believing is a verb, not a noun. You have to do something to show that you have faith. Faith can only be seen when it is demonstrated.” Faith is invisible. Our works are like the “skin” put on our faith to show its existence and form.
Good works are a fruit of grace, not the root of grace. So if we don’t do good works to get saved or to stay saved, why do we do good works? If “good works” do not help us earn salvation, what role do they play in the Christian faith?
On the track to heaven there is a train. The locomotive at the front of the train is spewing smoke and chugging away. Following it are many boxcars of different shapes and sizes. At the back of the train is a caboose, bright red and shiny.
On the side of the locomotive, painted in giant letters, is the word “grace.” Directly behind the locomotive, the first boxcar is labeled “salvation.” The other boxcars all contain the blessings of God. One is “healing,” another is “prosperity,” a third is “wisdom.” And there are many more cars leading us down to the last car—the red caboose at the end of the train. The label on it reads “good works.”
So, the grace locomotive is pulling the entire train toward heaven. But, religious people get so impressed by the shiny red caboose that they put it right at the front of the train, trying to get “good works” to pull all the weight. The problem is that the caboose lacks an engine. “Good works” makes a great follower, but it has no power to pull the train. Good works follow salvation, but they cannot produce salvation or any of the other blessings of God. Unfortunately, for religious people who put the caboose at the front of the train, the “good works” train stays stuck in the station. One preacher noted, “Good works are the fruit of salvation, not the root of salvation.” Works don’t save you, but they are your response for having been saved.
If you want to know more about God’s Grace and why Grace Wins, order a copy of Daniel King’s book about the Grace of God today!