Works are a part of faith. This is an unpopular notion in many churches because we’re so focused on faith as the path of salvation (and rightfully so) but once you have true faith, it’s your works that shine through and allow the Holy Spirit to work through you.
In a previous teaching we pointed to James as a demonstration of the need for works to show our faith. Let’s take a deeper dive through James, Jude, and Matthew to see what this really means for modern Christians.
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)
Today, many people point to faith as the only way to receive the gift of salvation. This is absolutely true. There is only one path to Heaven: Grace that comes through true faith in Yeshua as our Lord and Savior.
This verse may seem contrary, but a careful examination shows that James is not declaring that works are necessary or even capable of “earning” salvation. There is nothing humans can do to earn their salvation. However, works play a role in demonstrating our faith. In fact, those who are true in their faith will feel compelled to do good works as a result. Faith is not a license to sin. At its core lies an unquenchable desire to serve our Father by doing His Will.
21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:
23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.Jude 1:21-23 (KJV)
We’ll be discussing the ultimate need for works in this world through the words of Jude in a future teaching, but I wanted to focus in on the message in these verses to highlight compassion. It’s something that’s often missed on our journey to be with Christ. The good works that we’re compelled to do will sometimes come in the form of helping others who are in need.
When the Holy Spirit works through us to talk to people about faith, to give something to those in need, or to perform activities that bring assistance to them, we’re not just doing so to help them physically or emotionally. It’s through our good works that we may be a blessing to others. This blessing can translate into a need for the recipient to learn more, to seek the light that drove us to help them in the first place.
Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. Matthew 6:1-4 (KJV)
In Matthew 6, verses 1-4, Yeshua warns us that we must give for the sake of the recipient and not for the sake of those who may be watching. He makes it very clear that we’re not giving for the sake of others to witness but for the recipient and for our Father.
Know that your works driven by faith are done for the Father to see, not for others to see.He is always watching. We don’t need to get praise for our works from others. Good works are personal. We are compelled by our faith to do it and when we do it for the praise we receive from others, we aren’t truly doing His work.
It really comes down to the psychology that surrounds the act of giving. People from all religions give. It’s not isolated to Christians. People do it because it makes them feel good. They do it because it can change the way others perceive them. We do it for tax breaks. We do it for compliments. When we do it for any reason other than fulfilling a need when God puts the opportunity in front of us, then the act of giving loses its meaning. Our works must be done for His sake, not ours.
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?James 2:15-16 (KJV)
The compassion we’re given by our Father must translate into more than words. We can act through the Holy Spirit to help those in need in ways that go beyond our words. In these verses, James is not telling us that the physical needs are more important than the spiritual needs. He’s telling us that our works are a reinforcement of the message, that helping the body is a path through which people can find their faith even through hard times.
Faith is the only way to be granted salvation, but it’s through works that our faith can shine to the world and be a true representation of how the Holy Spirit operates through men.