Today we’re bringing you this video as part of our Modern Bible Teachings series. Today’s topic is one that is often debated in churches around the world. It surrounds the idea of faith vs works.
People often call this Paul vs James because there seems to be a contradiction in scriptures. What we’ve learned over the years is that any apparent contradiction in the Bible is simply a misunderstanding or misinterpretation within our modern methodology of comprehension. So let’s get started with Paul.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)
Let’s unpack these verses. What is grace? It’s salvation, the gift of everlasting life with our Father. Pretty straightforward – it’s what we all must desperately hope to be given, the greatest of all gifts.
What is faith? This is a little trickier. We’ll go into detail in future videos about what constitutes true faith but here we’ll declare that believing in the existence of God alone does not constitute Biblical faith. Even the demons knew of God and of Jesus, but they have no salvation as a result. Faith is deeper than acknowledgement and we’ll cover that in a future teaching.
So, then what are works? As we’ll soon learn in James, works constitute what we do in this life, both our thoughts and our actions, and how we live by faith through a demonstration of God’s Holy teachings. With all of that understood, we can say definitely by these verses and others throughout the New Testament that the path to eternal life starts and ends with faith. If you truly believe that Yeshua is your Lord and Savior and that he died on the cross for your sins, then you will be saved. Still, we need to look at James.
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 (KJV)
As you can see there’s no real contradiction. James isn’t saying that faith alone is not enough. He’s simply saying that good works come as a result of having true faith and that through our works we are able to declare our faith to God.
Galatians isn’t the only scripture that’s quoted when people discuss how the law was nailed to the cross, but it’s a common one.
19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Many have declared that the law is dead, even the ten commandments, but that’s not what the Bible is saying here. If anything, this is further proof of what James is saying. We are no longer under the law, the schoolmaster as it’s put in Galatians, because we have faith.
It’s not saying that the law can be broken. It’s saying that our faith is what makes it easier to abide by the law. Just because you have faith, you cannot use that as a license to go out and commit adultery or kill someone. The forgiveness that we were given through the blood of the Lamb means that our sins cannot take away our salvation. However, we will still be judged by them. We are no longer under a schoolmaster, but the rules still apply. Through true faith, we will be compelled to follow the rules, not to abandon them.
Now let’s look at the flip side as demonstrated by Jesus.
16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible
In many ways, these verses are a testament to faith over works. Yeshua is telling the rich man and everyone listening that through faith we are given a “ticket to heaven.” The key here, the reason that Jesus is discussing works, is found in His wording in verse 21. “If thou wilt be perfect.”
He is not preaching about works. He is making it clear that the only works that could get us to Heaven are perfect works which are utterly impossible for anyone to achieve. But with God all things are possible. Man cannot be perfect, but through true faith we can be perfected by the blood of our Lord and Savior.
What do they call the student who finished with the lowest GPA in medical school?DoctorIf you have true faith, you will become a vessel of good works. It’s natural. Faith is not a free pass to go out and sin. It declares that we are free of our sins and that we are empowered through the blood of Yeshua to do the good works in this world that He would have us do. Just as anyone who graduates from med school is a doctor, anyone who has true faith is saved. However, what you do with your medical degree determines how successful you will be as a doctor just as what you do with your faith will be judged. That’s a topic that we will discuss more fully in future teachings, but for now, know this: By faith we are saved. By works we are judged. The two are not contradictions. They are both part of what we must do in this life.
Here’s the video of this teaching: