Bearing Fruit - A Labor of Love
Now that we've spent time examining how God's love is the foundation for works, we should take the next step and see how works are accomplished in our lives. People often view works within two extremes. Some do nothing, but say they are waiting on God. Works play no role in their lives and they tend to become idle, and then drawn away from the Lord by whatever distraction comes along. The other extreme is the belief that we must produce God's work by our own actions. Some go as far as to believe we are justified by works, thinking human effort is necessary to complete the salvation process.
The book of James is often quoted as evidence that we are justified through our own efforts, because he explains that faith without works is dead. When James says, "Show me your faith without your works, and I'll show you my faith by my works," he is not saying that his works produce faith. He is explaining that true faith produces works. It only works one way. Works cannot produce faith, but faith always produces works. When I say faith, I am referring to the faith given to man by God as explained in Romans 12:3. This does not apply to the false faith man conjures up when trying to force himself to believe his own ideas.
Many claim that James is contradicting the Apostle Paul, but if you read the complete teaching of Paul, you will see this is not the case at all. Paul begins by explaining how we are saved by faith. He is addressing the Jewish culture that thought they were meriting God's favor by keeping the law. Paul is driving home the point that man's works and efforts through his own flesh cannot merit favor with God, for salvation is by grace (unmerited favor) through faith. After salvation, works are indeed a central part of the Christian's life. Look again at the passage we studied previously from Ephesians 2:8-10
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
There are 46032 characters in the full content. This excerpt only shows a 2000 character sample of the full content.