Those who dismiss the necessity of works (i.e. obedience), are against faith also. I am defending the need for works of faith; I am not defending works of merit. When religious folks start dismissing all work in relationship to salvation, they not only dismiss the works of merit, but they also dismiss the necessary works related to teh saving faith.
“constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 1:3)
People who are on the road to heaven and those who are on the road to hell are all DOING something. The Christian life is not characterized by a “faith alone” profession, but by deeds.
The book of Titus is a reminder of this that Christians must engage in good deeds (Titus 1:16; 2:14; 3:8,14). So there is nothing intrinsically evil or anti-faith about works. It is therefore foolish for so-called christians to rail against works as though there was something evil about them. There is a segment of religious people who lump ALL works together so that they may not be brought up in a conversation on salvation. These people are not doing the Lord’s work.
In Acts 2, when the people asked what to do about being saved, Peter said to “repent” and “be baptized”. In Acts 3, when people needed to be saved, Peter said, “repent and return in order that times of refreshing may come.” The inspired authors did not believe that the topic of obedience to the Gospel was somehow contrary to the topic of how to receiving God’s saving grace. Paul said for the Christians in Philippi to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” The next verse in Philippians 2, that says, “for it is God who at work in you”, does not diminish the importance of the admonition to “work out your salvation”. In my Outline on the Philippians, I highlighted a theme from that book. Here is what I wrote:
“Grace and Faith – God’s grace and our faith work together. The way that God works with those who are willing to yield to him, 1:6-10. In the way that God completes His work in us who are diligent to approve what is excellent. In the way that we work out our salvation while God is at work in us, 2:12,13. In the way that Paul pressed forward to lay hold of that for which Christ layed hold of him, 3:12. And in the way that God guards the hearts and minds of those who pray and give thanks to Him, 4:6ff.”
Thus throughout the letter, Paul shows the work of God’s grace is especially (I say especially because God desires that all men be saved, but not all men will not be saved because they refuse to repent) for those with a working faith.
From the Ephesian letter, we know that we are “saved by grace through faith” (Eph. 2:8,9). We also know that, just as hope endures and love labors, faith works (1 Thess. 1:3). Just as God’s saving grace had to be manifested in the coming of Jesus Christ, so saving faith must be manifested in obedience to the Gospel: “what will be the outcome of those who do not obey the Gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17) The outcome is that they will not be saved. And the point we must make is that God best accomplishes His work in the lives of a people who submit their wills to DO God’s will: this is the active, obedient faith which the various inspired authors all point to (See Rom. 1:5; Jas 2:14ff).
God’s grace is the saving power. And faith, real saving faith, that is characterized by obedience, is what receives the power. So there is not incompatibility between grace and faith. God’s saving grace is only incompatible with the disobedient and with the vain works of men who think they can save themselves.
We Are Justified by What Kind of Faith?
Eternal Life is for the obedient