Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Faith? Works? or Both?

"Exert yourselves vigorously to get in through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will seek to get in but will not be able."—Luke 13:23, 24.

Which is Right?

The Bible says: "A man is declared righteous by faith apart from works of law." It also says: "A man is to be declared righteous by works, and not by faith alone." Which is right? Are we declared righteous by faith or by works?—Romans 3:28; James 2:24.

The harmonious answer from the Bible is that both are correct.

For centuries the Law that God gave through Moses had required Jewish worshipers to make specific sacrifices and offerings, to observe festival days, and to conform to dietary and other requirements. Such "works of law," or simply "works," were no longer necessary after Jesus provided the ultimate sacrifice.—Romans 10:4.

But the fact that these works performed under the Mosaic Law were replaced by Jesus' superlative sacrifice did not mean that we can ignore the Bible's instructions. It says: "How much more will the blood of the Christ . . . cleanse our consciences from [the older] dead works that we may render sacred service to the living God?"—Hebrews 9:14.

How do we "render sacred service to the living God"? Among other things, the Bible tells us to combat the works of the flesh, to resist the world's immorality, and to avoid its snares. It says: "Fight the fine fight of the faith," put off "the sin that easily entangles us," and "run with endurance the race that is set before us, as we look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus." And the Bible urges us not to 'get tired and give out in our souls.'—1 Timothy 6:12; Hebrews 12:1-3; Galatians 5:19-21.

We do not earn salvation by doing these things, for no human could ever do enough to merit such an astounding blessing. We are not worthy of this magnificent gift, though, if we fail to demonstrate our love and obedience by doing the things that the Bible says God and Christ want us to do. Without works to demonstrate our faith, our claim to follow Jesus would fall far short, for the Bible clearly states: "Faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself."—James 2:17.

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