Faith Fridays: The Importance (Not Necessity) of Works with Faith

After a discussion on some confusion in one of my earlier posts, I feel like I should devote a whole post to this today. How necessary are works to your faith? Let’s start from the top.

First of all, let’s clear the stage with a statement that not everyone’s going to enjoy. You can do nothing, and I mean nothing to earn salvation. As Ephesians 2:8-9 says,

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The verse is pretty clear. That means that it is Christ completely, 100%, who gets salvation to sinners like us. Anyone wanting to get to heaven just by being good most of the time is in a bit of trouble. And by a bit, I mean a lot of trouble. Like, on the road to the place with weeping and gnashing of teeth kind of trouble. Not offended yet? Alright then, let’s keep going.

So, if we believe that, then how much leeway do we Christians have with sinning? Does that mean we can just basically confess our sins, ask Christ to be our Saviour and then have nothing to do with Him anymore?

Absolutely.

Those who hold to Lordship Salvation may have just had a heart attack in their seat. Someone help those guys out, would you please? Thanks. Now to clarify.

This does not in any way mean that we should do what I just said we technically can do. There’s an entire book of the bible devoted to answering the question I just posed. That would be James, one of my favourites. It’s what I’m going to base most of this next part of the post on.

The full answer: salvation can exist without works, but if you’re not doing anything… well, what’s the point? Now, obviously, you still get to Heaven, but you’re not going to bring anyone else there by you acting the exact same as you did before! James sums this thought up very well, so here’s a whole lot of text.

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. (James 2:14-19)

So, in closing, yes, we can still go to Heaven even if we don’t act like a Christian. Sadly, this whole “saved sinner” shtick has taken a lot of root in our modern culture. Everybody seems to want to be a saved sinner rather than a sanctified** saint. They prefer to embrace the holes in their ship rather than embrace God’s holiness. Get the idea? If we’re saying that we’re saved, we should constantly be trying to emulate Christ with our actions. God plans to sanctify you, so let Him do it! Is it that journey towards holiness that saves us? Heck no! We are saved only by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross; no if, ands, or buts. But that journey does help us as a follower of Christ. So don’t just have your faith. Live it, too!

Gabriel, out.

**For those who aren’t familiar with the term, sanctification simply is the process of becoming more Christlike as we continue our walk with Christ. For more information on sanctification, please see all of Romans 6:1-23, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 2:20, and Matthew 7:15-17. 

Advertisements

Faith Fridays: Regarding the Unwitnessed.

I’m starting out Faith Fridays with a big, big topic, one of the biggest in Christianity. And it’s about to get real heated.

What is the eternal security of those who are never witnessed to?
In simple terms, do people go to Hell if they’ve never heard the gospel?

This seems like a simple issue, but not quite so much. There is a very clear commission in Acts:

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15

Mix that with John 14:6 and it seems like a pretty solid end of discussion: people who don’t hear the gospel don’t know that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. That would seem to make all people who haven’t heard the gospel headed down under. And this is where it starts to get tricky with wording.

There are a few different views people take on this.

  1. People who don’t get witnessed to don’t go to Heaven. End of story. This is based off the logic I showed above.
  2. People who don’t get witnessed to may come to know Christ through visions, dreams or some supernatural understanding of the gospel. This is based off verses such as Romans 1:20. It may seem a little out-there, but there have been stories of this happening.
  3. People who don’t get witnessed to can get saved anyway. They don’t even have to know about Christ. In fact, they’re already saved. They just don’t know it yet.
    This is a lesser taken stance.
  4. People who don’t get witnessed to may get a second chance in the afterlife. This is based off 1 Peter 3:18-20, which seems to claim Christ did in fact witness to those in Hades after His death. It is a comforting thought indeed.

I personally believe in the second option. I do not completely disregard any but the third, but would dispute them, as I will.

The problem with the first option is that of Romans 1:20 and the very nature of God. If God says that His works are made clear by creation, He means it. This would mean that humans speeches are not the only means of communication. If human speeches are not the only means of communication, it more than likely means that someone has used these other means.

My problem with the third option is that of Romans 10:9-10, which states how to become saved. If this was not the only way, scripture would make it clear to us. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, just confess Him as Lord. We must accept Him, not just hope that the cross made everyone go to Heaven automatically. Besides, if those people who did not hear go automatically, what stops the rest of the world from going? Why tell people the gospel at all?

With the fourth option… I am actually not so sure of this being wrong. However, it is also based off of the idea that Christ went to Hell for the time that He was dead. However, the verses used to prove this, 1 Peter 3:8-9, could not, in my mind, mean that He actually went to Hades/Hell/Sheol. After all, He says to the criminal in Luke 23:42.43 that he would “be with Me today in paradise”. Is Jesus, then, a liar? May it never be! So although I haven’t figured it out completely myself, I cannot come to this conclusion.

What are your thoughts on the matter? As I will be in Canada at the time of this posting, I am unable to reply to comments until Sunday. But I would love to see some intellectual thought when I get back!

Easter Morning

**NOTE BEFORE READING: This is an extremely Christ-centered poem. If you have a great distaste for religious content in your poetry, do not read it. Thank you.**

To know God in His holiness

Could take on mortal’s toil,

And shroud Himself in lowliness

To trod on earthen soil,

To be tempted by the one

By whom He was most hated,

With the plan, as God the Son,

To save what He’d created,

To be hungry and tired and sad

As all at some point are,

So His understanding of man

Was not just from afar,

And know His final breath would be

Completing His great plan,

While hanging nailed upon a tree

As His blood fell on the sand…

I know all this, and ponder still,

Yet this tale I don’t dread.

There still is ink left on the quill,

And Jesus is not dead.

For this was just a passing phase,

His guard stone rolled away

And Jesus walked from His grave

As nature sang in praise

Nails, they were but stepping-stones,

And pain but a sensation

As He prepared heavenly homes

For all who’d choose salvation

There is no greater love

Than His which makes us free.

His love has now brought life

To sinners like you and me.