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Faith in Christ -- The Only Gospel

(Galatians 1:1,2,6-9; 2:5-21)

Lesson 10 -- second quarter 2002
May 5, 2002

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2002, Christian Light Publications

If works don't save us, why bother?

Galatians 2:16 says it three times: works justify no one. So we got the message loud and clear. But where do we go from here? If works don't bring us salvation, or at least contribute significantly to it, then why bother with them?

Twice Galatians 2:16 stresses that salvation comes by faith. That's wonderful! But if we receive redemption only and solely through faith, why should we bother with good works?

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). When others see the good works that result from the redemptive work of Christ in our lives, they give glory to God. This verse also indicates that good works are one way in which we can cause our light to shine in this dark world.

"Walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10). Those who live in a way that fits with the Christian profession they make will be very productive when it comes to producing good fruit. Good works are the sweet, delightful, healthful fruit of saving faith.

"Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). Jesus died so that He might redeem and purify us. That makes us peculiar; that is, especially unique. He also has in mind that we have a burning zeal for doing good things. Thus the good works that spring from His redemption further brand us as unusual people in this world.

"Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" (James 2:17). Shall we say that good works give life to faith, or shall we more correctly say that good works reveal that our faith is living? I imagine the latter its more theologically correct, but either way, we see the mutually-dependent relationship between faith and works. This verse packs a powerful doctrinal punch despite its brevity. Works without faith are empty; faith without works is empty. Anyone who tries to divorce the two puts their life in peril!

"Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works" (James 2:18). Do you still remember what the question is? This verse gives a very logical, reasonable answer: Works allow us to demonstrate our faith. The implications of this verse boggle the mind: Without works no one can prove his faith!

"Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation" (1 Peter 2:12). This verse brings out two benefits of good works. First off, our good works contradict the character assassination indulged in by enemies of the cross. Secondly, visible good works cause even the heathen to glorify God.

"But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (Hebrews 13:16). The Jews of the Old Testament could offer animal sacrifices to God for His pleasure. God doesn't give us that option. However, we can please Him with the sacrifices of good works and generosity.

"Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17). The Christian has a choice: good works or sin.

There we have it. Faith does not do away with works. In fact, they which have in believed in God must "be careful to maintain good works" (Titus 3:8).

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