‘Faith; has anything been doubted more severely and has anything been more passionately believed? Throughout time Kings have tried to slay it, politicians have tried to outlaw it, mobs have tried to beat it, and yet it’s alive and well today! The strongest force in the world is faith. Faith calms the storm and walks on water. It has humbled the intellectual and has enlightened the uneducated. Faith stands tall on its feet in strength when mighty empires crumble and fall to their knees. Though faith is foolishness to a foolish world, faith has overcome the world when all else has succumbed to it. (1 John 5:4).
We live in an era of complacent Christian living. Complacency is rotting the very bones of the Church. Men desire to have the least amount of responsibility towards Christ and yet receive the most amounts of rewards from Christ. As weeds are to a field so are the unfruitful to the Church (Matthew 13:24-43). The attitude and message today is “believe and receive” while the biblical message has always been “repent and believe” (Mark 1:15). I had a recent talk with the Pastor who told me about a conversation he had with one of his church members. Their conversation was regarding the relationship between believing and repenting, and the responsibility the lost has of doing both of those. “All the lost has to do is confess and believe. That’s it. If they confess and believe they will be saved,” a lady insisted. I found the Pastors response to be very wise. “Yes, I completely agree. All someone has to do is confess and believe and they will be saved (Romans 10:9). But now we must define what ‘believe’ means” as he explained that true faith is always accompanied by action.
Faith entails and includes more then some admit. It is a common thought and message today that repentance is not necessary for salvation because you’d be “adding works to faith”. While it is faith only that saves us and not any “good” work, I don’t see how you can separate faith from works, especially the work of repentance (Luke 13:3). What is one without the other? Faith that works is truly a working faith. Real faith is an active faith. A faith that moves mountains is far from being idle! Faith that is real is violently forceful spiritually and aggressively active physically. We do not need to add works to faith, because they should already be there. If a man desperately needs a car and he hears over the radio that a certain car dealership is giving away all their cars for free, yet he doesn’t act, we would all safely conclude that he had no faith. He must not have trusted the offer. Had he trusted it, he would have found his way to the dealership even if he had to run to it. Likewise when a man hears the claims of salvation and says “Oh I believe all that” yet he is not willing to leave his sin for the Savior and serve Him, it can be safely concluded that he had no faith.
Under the disguise of “adding works to faith” many have subtracted works from their lives. You can not remove works from faith anymore then you could remove moister from water. What good is a perfume without a fragrance, without a scent? And what good is inward faith that does not produce outward acts of love and charity? “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble!” (James 2:19). Our faith, meaning our trust in God, ought to cause us to be willing to do anything that He asks of us. Our faith in God makes us willing and wanting to serve Him because of who He is, what He has done, and what He is going to do!
How many Christians are there today who are “statue” Christians. They look good, even as good as a statue, but do absolutely nothing except sit and stand idly all day long? In essence many preachers ultimately teach “you can have your sin, you can live entirely for yourself, and you can get to heaven at the end of your life as well”! This is appalling to a God who is worthy of all the fruit we could possibly bear to him. God will destroy the fig tree if he comes to it at a time when it has no fruit. (Matt 21:19). Works is the expression of a living active faith. Works are the branches that spring up from the roots of faith. I asked a brother recently, “If you saw a tree without any branches or leaves what would you think of it?” Without a moments hesitation he simply said “dead”. A tree without branches and leaves is a dead tree! “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:20). “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26)
T. T. Eaton wrote in his 1906 publication “Faith and the Faith” “The relationship between faith and works is the relationship between doing and deeds. To say: ‘show me thy faith without thy works and I will show thee my faith by my works (James 2:18),” is equivalent to saying – show me thy doing without thy deeds and I will show thee my doings by my deeds. Of course there can be no doing without deeds and no deeds without doing.” He went on to write “New Testament faith is far more than the mere acceptance of certain teaching. Faith is more then believing. A man might believe everything in the Bible, from lid to lid, and still be lost. Gospel faith is a heart trust in Christ as Savior and Lord, the heart including the will, so that actions follow. Faith is not passive. It is the doing. Christian faith involves turning from sin to God, surrendering the will to Christ, and throwing one’s whole power into His service.”
Who can genuinely deny that faith must work in light of the scriptures? Was John Baptist out of line when he said “bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matt 3:8)? Did Christ intend to have a stagnate Church when he said “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”? (Mt 5:16). Will a Christian be judged by his faith or by his works? You are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9) but you are judged and rewarded by your works! (2 Cor 5:10). Our attitude must be that of our Lord Himself who said “I must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day” (John 9:4)
A couple hundred years ago the old Methodists would sing a hymn which would do us some good if we learn it today. The fifth stanza sums it up plainly and painfully. May this be our prayer:
“Lord, shall we live so sluggish still,
And never act our part?
Come, Holy Dove, from the’ heavenly hill,
And warm our frozen hearts!”
source: Jesse Morrell, “Newsletter Archive: Adding Works To Faith” (openairoutreach).