The Reformers said it perfectly all the way back in the 16th century: “We are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.” In other words, true, living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is a faith that has hands and feet and demonstrates its reality to the watching world.
Someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. (James 2:18)
Good works are not the reason for our salvation; they are the right response to our salvation. We are not saved by faith in Jesus plus our good works; we are saved by the grace of God alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. But as James tells us, good works flow out of a living, vital, true saving relationship with Christ.
Now let me make something perfectly clear:
God knows the heart and needs no demonstration of saving faith!
Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. And it is also true that God does not need any of our good works. He was doing just fine before we were saved and He will continue doing fine after we are in glory.
So if God does not need our good works, why is it important for us to do them? Because everyone else needs our good works. Our family needs our good works. Our neighbors need our good works. Our coworkers need our good works. The world needs our good works. And good works that flow from a saving relationship with Christ are the only truly good works in the world. Why? Because they are done for two reasons only:
The good of others!
So . . . would the watching world around you know you are “in Christ” because of the good works that flow out of you? Are you making a difference in the lives of others for the glory of Almighty God? Remember, faith is invisible. The only way a watching world will see faith is by the way it works itself out of the heart that beats for Jesus.
Let me close today’s word of encouragement with this exhortation from the 18th-century theologian, John Wesley:
Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!