Faith That Works (Part 3)

by Rick Duncan, Cuyahoga Valley Church Founding Pastor

This past weekend, several people asked me questions about the nature of faith and works. I was asked, “If we are saved by faith and not by works, then why did you talk so much about our need to do good works?”

We have been exploring the relationship between our faith and our works. What follow is the 3rd part of our 3 part series of blog posts to answer the question,  “Is my profession of faith real?”

How do we do good deeds? What’s gospel-based approach to do-gooding?

A biblical approach to do-gooding…

  1. Do I see myself as a Beloved Child?
    You are loved unconditionally by God. Knowing that you are loved unconditionally by Christ changes everything. God didn’t have to love you, help you, save you, and serve you. But He did all that (and more) because of His great love for you. Knowing you are Beloved by God turns a hard heart into a soft heart. That’s when works of love start flowing in a supernatural way. You didn’t earn God’s love. So, why would you require anyone else to earn love from you? Because we are objects of love we become subjects who love. God’s love for us produces God’s love from us. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Thank God that you are a Beloved Child.

  2. Am I trusting daily in the gospel of grace?
    Preach the gospel to yourself every day. On the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” Jesus paid it all when He died on the cross in your place for your sins. All accounts have been settled between you and God. You are forever freed from the need to pay God back. You can’t do enough good works to be saved. You don’t have to do good works to be saved. Christ has done a good work – the Best Work – for you. You are fully and freely forgiven, accepted and complete in Christ. Now, motivated by His Good Work, we do good works for others. Jesus has already given you the greatest thing you’ll ever need. Therefore, you don’t need others to give to you; you can give to them! Your “Do” is fueled by His “Done.” Your good works are fueled His Good Work! Because of the gospel, you don’t have to do good works; you’ll want to do good works. Trust again in the gospel of grace.

  3. Am I reading my Bible to see God’s “to dos”?
    This passage isn’t demanding that we drive ourselves to do more and try harder. God is calling is to work out what He’s worked in. Read your Bible to see God’s “to dos.”
  4. Am I asking God, “What good works do You want me to do today?”

  5. Will I turn my intentions into actions?
    “When we live out the ways of the gospel it opens doors for the words of the gospel,” says Christian leader Lance Ford. We seek to do love-motivated, gospel-driven, Word-directed, prayer-saturated, Spirit-empowered good works.

So, what does God want us to do today? He wants us to examine ourselves.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.
2 Corinthians 13:5a

Look at your life and ask, “Am I a real Christian?” Don’t ask, “Did I pray the prayer or check a box?” Did the Son of God leave heaven and die on a cross so you could check a box? Ask, “Is the fruit of my life proof that the root of my life is real?”

Dead wood illustration. If your life looks like this, you aren’t saved no matter what you say.

At the final judgment, the person’s works give evidence of true saving faith. See note on Galatians 2:16.

We will not be saved by a cheap grace through a false faith for no good works. We can only be saved by an extravagant grace through a true faith for good works.

Faith that works… works.

Is my profession of faith real?

For some of you it’s not working. No one around you would ever think you are saved. If your religion hasn’t changed your life, you ought to change your religion. You’ve got to swap pseudo faith for saving faith. You’ve got to trade in your fake faith for true faith- a faith that changes everything.

Think of a road with two ditches. The devil doesn’t care which side of the road he wrecks your car on.

On the one side is the ditch for those who think they can work their way to heaven – that God is somehow making a list, checking it twice, like Santa Claus. And when we die, He is going to see if our good works outweigh our bad works. Some are trying to be justified by works. It won’t work.

The other ditch is just as dangerous. Some say, “We’re saved by faith. Well, I believe. Jesus died for my sins and rose again? I believe.” But it’s an intellectual, casual, nominal belief that doesn’t change anything in their lives. They never bow the knee to Jesus. They never really come to know Christ personally. They simply have a “say so” salvation. But they don’t have a “show so” salvation.

Over here are those who are trying to work their way to heaven. They will never do it. Over here are those who never really have received Jesus Christ as Lord.

Do you have a “say so” faith or a “show so” faith? It matters. A lot. See, there will be a day of judgment. For all of us. And “The dead are judged according to their works,” says Revelation 20:12. Who are the sheep and who are the goats? Who are the real deal and who are the pretenders? Our good works answer those questions.