Faith without works is dead, as we hear in James 2:17. But does grace alone save us?
What does the Bible have to say about faith alone?
When it comes to the salvation of a person’s soul, does the Bible indicate that works are required for entrance into heaven, or could salvation be possible through faith alone?
The Bible describes those who attempt to live and be saved by means of their own works, such as law-keeping or service, as having “confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). This is a clear reference from scripture on self-righteousness.
Moreover, such a belief is contrary to the idea of faith as taught in the Bible. As Christians, we must understand that nothing we do on Earth – no matter how commendable it may be – can compare to what is required for us to be in good standing with God. It is by faith alone that our souls can be saved.
The Bible often speaks of the need for faith. In Romans 3:22, we are told, “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.”
In other words, no one is justified before God on the basis of works; it is solely through faith that we seek justification and attain salvation.
It is not a case of pursuing righteousness and salvation through efforts of one’s own nor is it through faith “plus” some kind of good work; it is instead faith in Christ alone that moves us in the right direction.
Ephesians 2:8-9 reiterates this truth, emphasizing that the gift of salvation is not something we can earn: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Here, we can see that grace is offered through faith, but we do not receive salvation through any kind of effort, no matter how virtuous. It is only through faith in Christ that we are saved, and not by our own works.
Throughout all of Galatians 3, Paul exhorts the Galatian Church to turn to Jesus through faith and faith alone.
He points out that it is not good works or observance of the law that is required, but rather it is faith and faith alone that leads to justification and salvation. Paul makes it unmistakable when he says, “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith” (Galatians 3:11).
Titus 3:5-7 further crystallizes the truth that it is not any kind of effort of our own that leads to salvation but instead faith in God – particularly faith in the work completed by Jesus Christ: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Here, Paul is unequivocal in his teaching: it is not any kind of effort on our part that leads to salvation; it is through God’s grace that we are saved, and it is through faith in Jesus Christ, His Son, that this grace is bestowed upon us.
👉 What does the scriptures say about faith?
The Power of Faith in the Believer’s Life
Not only does the Bible speak of the power of faith in salvation, but it also speaks to its importance once we have accepted the Lord Jesus as our Savior.
Hebrews 11:6 encourages us: “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
We must believe that God exists and that He is eager to answer the prayer requests of those who call on Him in belief and faith.
Faith brings us closer to God and opens us up to receive the blessings He has in store (Hebrews 11:1). When faced with life’s many challenges, faith helps us to keep our focus on God’s promises, while relying on His strength to endure.
As believers, faith allows us to proclaim our unwavering belief in the Promised Redeemer, through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).
Faith should be the primary factor in our lives as we seek God’s will for our life and turn away from Satan’s wiles and temptations.
Additionally, we can use our faith to drive us towards good works, where we act out our faith through service (Galatians 5:6).
And, as we love and serve God, through faith, He will pour blessings into our lives, and with the power of His Spirit we can accomplish all His will (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
The Effects of Works-Based Faith
While the Bible stresses the importance of faith, it emphasizes the futility of faith built on works.
It was formerly reported by the law of Moses’ that if a person believed, and did good works, they could attain righteousness (Galatians 3:21).
However, the New Testament teaches that faith alone brings justification and salvation.
This is shown in Romans like 4:5, which says, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
In other words, we are not justified before God through our works, but we are justified through our faith – faith without works.
The reality is that we can never attain righteousness through good works. We can never pay for or earn our salvation, as we hear in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Therefore, there is no good work that we can perform that will merit us entrance into heaven; we must rely solely on our faith for that.
The Bible further emphasizes the fact that no amount of works can add to the value of faith. In Matthew 13:20-21, we are reminded that good works cannot be pursued alongside faith in order to attain salvation, for faith is the only path to God and His salvation.
Additionally, James 2:14 admonishes us against believing that we can have salvation through faith and works, which works together may be considered enough to grant us entrance into heaven: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” The answer is clearly no.
The Relationship Between Faith and Works
The Bible speaks to the relationship between faith and works. While works cannot save us nor justify us before God, they are a result of faith (James 2:17).
We are not saved by works, but by faith alone, and this faith leads us to the works that turn our faith into action.
Without the faith and love that come from believing in Jesus, there is no motivation to serve Him (Roman 8:7).
And, without God’s grace, no amount of good deeds can lead to righteousness (Galatians 5:4-5).
In other words, works do not bring salvation, but faith does produce good works.
The natural result of having faith in God and His promises is that we are impelled to serve Him and love our fellow man.
Faith leads us to take action and turn away from our bad habits (repent) and serve those around us. True faith is demonstrated in works, for faith without action is dead.
As we look to Jesus, the definition of true faith, we see the necessity of walking a life of good deeds, trusting in God’s mercy and grace to carry us to our destination.
Our faith must take us further than mere repentance, but instead compel us to engage in the good works that bring us into deeper relationship with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ (Romans 12:1).
The Source of Faith
The Bible makes it very clear that faith comes only from God. We can trust in God’s power to provide and save us through faith, but He alone is the source of the faith we need.
In Ephesians 2:8-9, we hear, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
Similarly, we are reminded in Romans 12:3 that the faith we are called to is a gift from God that we do not deserve: “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
Thus, the faith we are to pursue is not something inherent in us, but rather something given to us by God.
It is interesting to note that in our struggle to have faith, God gives us more faith, as expressed in Romans 12:3.
Similarly, in Luke 17:5-6, Jesus calls us to faith that goes beyond our own capabilities, challenging us to have faith equal to that of a mustard seed in order to move mountains: “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ He replied, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”
Therefore, we can see that faith is something we can only receive from God.
We cannot produce faith on our own, but instead must rely on God for faith and trust in His power to provide faith.
In other words, no amount of good works can bridge the gap to God; we must come to Him in faith.
A husband of one wife, father of two beautiful girls, laborer of Lord, Jesus Christ, and a servant to God’s His saints. I hope to encourage you by God’s grace. Thank you for stopping by.