“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

4.3 The Role of Works

(Bearing Fruit for the Lord)

For just as the body without the spirit is dead,
so also faith without works is dead. – James 2:26

Bearing Fruit for the Lord Through Works of Obedience. This chapter explains the role of works (action on the part of the believer) in the plan of (eternal) salvation for a Christian. A Christian who is living their life in obedience to the Gospel and the “commandments” of Christ can’t help but “bear fruit” (i.e., do “good works”) for the Lord. This is a lengthy chapter, for we must once again confront and clear away the rampant and widespread false teachings of man on this subject. We must make our way through this chapter carefully so that we understand what Scripture actually teaches as opposed to relying on the opinions of man.

Much of the confusion about the role of works comes from trying to reconcile what Paul and James, both inspired writers, wrote in Scripture. So, before we begin, please turn to the book of James in your Bible….is it still there? Yes, it is? … Whew, you can breathe a big sigh of relief, and we can therefore continue along on the path of truth.


First, we must understand that there are three types of “works” under consideration in Scripture:[1]

  1. Works of the Mosaic Law,
  2. Works of human merit (meritorious works), and
  3. Works of faith done in obedience to the commandments of Christ.

Understanding the above is key to reconciling what James and Paul wrote. The verses under consideration are:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. – Eph. 2:8–10 (written by Paul)

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. – Rom. 3:28 (written by Paul)

… a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus … – Gal. 2:16 (written by Paul)

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? … You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? – Jas. 2:21, 24–25 (written by James)

So, why does Paul write that “you have been saved through faith … not as a result of works” and “a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law,” while James writes “a man is justified by works and not by faith alone”? Keep in mind that the totality of Scripture is truth (see Psa. 119:160)—therefore all of the verses have to be true statements when correctly interpreted![2] [3] Since Scripture can’t contradict itself, we must go beyond just a simple reading of the words and carefully consider the context of the verses:

  • In Eph. 2:8–10, Paul is referring to trying to earn salvation through works of human merit,
  • In Rom. 3:28 and Gal. 2:16, Paul is referring to “works of the [Mosaic] law” (see also Php. 3:9), and
  • In Jas. 2: 21–25, James is talking about works of faith done in obedience to Christ.

There is no contradiction—the verses have different contexts.[4] When reading and studying Scripture, you must first expand outward to see the context for the verse(s). Failure to do so leads to many false teachings.


First, it is important to understand, and we see it is clear from the verses, that one does not “earn” salvation or forgiveness of sins by or through your works (i.e., #1 works of the law, or #2 works of human merit). Only the shed blood of Christ on the cross forgives sin. There is nothing whatsoever that a man can do of himself to earn forgiveness of sins or salvation—it is “the gift of God” through God’s grace (see Eph. 2:8–9). It was “the grace of God” (Acts 13:43; 20:24; Rom. 5:15; Titus 2:11) which put Christ on the cross for you— “the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13; Heb. 9:14; 1 Pet. 1:19; 1 Cor. 10:16) cannot be earned, bought, or purchased.

However, at the same time, we also see that Scripture tells us that works of faith done in obedience to Christ do play a role in your salvation. Let’s make a list of what the Bible says about this type of works:

  • “Faith without works is dead” (Jas. 2:26),
  • “A man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (Jas. 2:24),
  • “Faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (Jas. 2:17),
  • “Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (Jas. 1:22),
  • “… that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” (John 15:8),
  • “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” (Matt. 9:37),
  • “If someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” (Jas. 2:14),
  • “Was not Abraham our father justified by works?” (Jas. 2:21),
  • “… as a result of the works, faith was perfected” (Jas. 2:22),
  • “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works” (Matt. 5:16),
  • “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matt. 7:16–20),
  • “… that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17),
  • “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58),
  • “‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance …’” (Rev. 2:2),
  • “‘… for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God’” (Rev. 3:2),
  • “‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth’” (Rev. 3:15–16),
  • “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them” (Rev. 14:13).

As you can see, Scripture has much to say on works of faith done in obedience which come naturally from a newly “born again” heart that has given itself to God in a changed life (see Matt. 3:35; 6:10; Luke 22:42; John 14:15) as a “bond-servant”[5] of Christ (Rom. 1:1; Gal. 1:10; Col. 1:7; 4:7; 2 Tim. 2:24; Titus 1:1; Jas. 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:1; Jude 1; Rev. 15:3; cf. Rev. 1:1). These works of faith do not diminish “the grace of God” one iota (see Gal. 2:15–21). Scripture says we “will know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16, 20); a true Christian will produce fruit for the Lord, “some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty” (Matt. 13:8, 23; cf. Mark 4:8, 20).


Christianity is as much about action as it is about the profession of faith (see Matt. 7:21; Rom. 2:13; Jas. 1:22). Wayne Jackson writes that faith is demonstrated to be an action term: [6]

It is important to note that “faith” in the biblical sense has never denoted a mere passive acceptance of certain facts. Rather it is a term of active obedience. Actually, faith consists of three elements:

  1. An acknowledgement of historical facts;
  2. A willingness to trust the Lord, and;
  3. A wholehearted submission to the divine will.

One cannot but notice how “faith is demonstrated to be an action term in Hebrews 11. “By faith” Abel offered; Noah prepared; Abraham obeyed; etc. The inspired James made it wonderfully clear that faith, divorced from obedience, is dead (James 2:26).

A Christian who lives their life in obedience to the Gospel and the commandments of Christ can’t help but “bear fruit” (see Matt. 3:8–10; 7:17, 19; 13:23; Mark 4:20; Luke 3:8–9; 8:15; 13:9; John 15:2–8, 16; Col. 1:10) for the Lord. It will be the natural result if you wake up each day seeking to do God’s will instead of your own, loving God and loving and serving others. If you love God, you will do what pleases Him. What pleases Him is that you love and serve others. How do you show love? You support, help, instruct, provide for, care for, and serve others as if they were yourself. You place other people’s needs first. We are also told to share the gospel far and wide, to the very ends of the Earth; I don’t believe there is any dispute over this “good work” that is commanded. Faith and works are like two sides of the same hand, both working together (see Jas. 2:22; cf. Jas. 1:22–24; 2:21–25; Rom. 2:13), with one important exception: faith comes first, and it is only by and through your faith in Christ, “abiding in Him [Jesus]” (1 John 2:6, 10, 24, 27–28, 3:6, 9; 17, 24; 4:12–13, 15–16; 2 John 9; John 6:56; 14: 20; 15:4–7; cf. John 15:9–10; 17:21) and “He [I, Jesus] in you” (John 5:38; 6:56; 14:17; 20, 15:4–7; 2 Tim. 1:14; 1 John 2:14, 24, 27–28, 3:24; 4:12–13, 15–16; 2 John 2; John 6:56; 14:20; 15:4–7; Rom. 8:9, 11; 1 Cor. 3:16; cf. John 15:9–10; 17:21), that you can do any “good works” (see John 15:5).

Further, your “good works” of faith (Matt. 5:16; cf. Eph. 2:10; 1 Tim. 2:10; 6:18; 2 Cor. 9:8; Titus 2:7, 14; 3:1, 8, 14; Heb. 10:24; 1 Pet. 2:12; Rev. 3:2), which result from an active faith and obedience, not only result in “bearing fruit” for the Lord (by helping to build His kingdom), they also serve to demonstrate the sincerity of your faith and prove your faith genuine—both before man and before God. Scripture is clear that the Lord notices what a man does as much as what he says (see Matt. Jonah 1:1–3:10; Rev. 2:2; 3:2; Rom. 2:13; Matt. 15:8; Mark 7:6). “Hypocrites” (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16; 15:7; 22:18; 23:13–15, 23–29; 24:51; Mark 7:6; Luke 12:56; 13:15; cf. Matt. 15:8; Mark 7:6) who idly profess faith in Christ, and yet do not do the will of God as expressed in the commandments of Christ and His apostles, will be judged accordingly on “the Day of Judgment,” as it is written: “prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (Jas. 1:22–25).


To drive the point home even further, let’s list a few things which the secular world says on this subject:

  • “Talk is cheap,”
  • “This is where the rubber meets the road,”
  • “Actions speak louder than words,”
  • “Put up or shut up,”
  • Giving “lip service” to something (but not doing it),
  • “Putting your money where your mouth is,”
  • “You’ve got to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you get your Christian doctrine[7] from the secular world, but I think you can see that even the secular world understands that it is actions which demonstrate and prove professions to be genuine. In the same way, God expects you, and Scripture commands you, to prove your faith is real by backing it up with action. Scripture is abundantly clear that you must act on your faith to be saved (justified before God) and for your faith to be pleasing to God. What if Noah, Abraham, and Moses didn’t ever “do anything” after they proclaimed faith in God? —i.e., what if Noah never actually built an ark and Abraham never offered up Isaac. Would you believe that their professions of faith were real and genuine? I don’t think you would.

And let’s take this up to the very top, the absolute highest pinnacle of authority: God Himself. What if God constantly talked about how He wants humanity to be saved from sin to eternal life with Him in heaven, but He never actually did anything about it? What if He never actually gave His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for you? What if Jesus made a lot of claims that He could heal people, but He never actually did heal anyone? And finally, what if Jesus said He would die on the cross for your sins, but He never actually did it? Would you take God seriously? You can see that even God backs up His professions and words with action!


You are not “saved by faith alone,” as many false teachers and false prophets (“wolves in sheep’s clothing,” Matt. 7:15) claim. It’s as if the entire book of James has been ripped out of the Bibles of many so-called “modern” or “reformed” Christians and their churches which endlessly shout that you are “saved by faith only/alone.” You have just read that Scripture is abundantly clear that true Christianity is as much about action as it is about the profession of faith! Scripture explicitly states that “faith without works is dead” and that “a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” Those are very clear, literal, and direct verses that cannot be explained away or twisted into some other meaning; you simply cannot evade the force of those verses!

Despite, and in contradiction to, the very clear, direct, literal, compelling Scripture I have shown and explained to you at the start of this chapter, a couple of false teachings are absolutely rampant and widespread today. I point them out here, so you are not deceived.:

1)   You are “Saved by faith alone”: Some falsely teach and preach that you are saved solely by a profession of faith (“faith alone”), i.e., that obedience and works have no place whatsoever in the plan of salvation or the justification of the believer. They teach this despite the clear and direct Scripture that I have just shown you above! To support their “faith alone” false teaching, the “wolves” take Paul’s writing in the letter to the Ephesians (Eph. 2:8–10) out of context.[8] [9]

2)   Baptism Related: Some of the “faith alone” advocates additionally claim that baptism is a “good work” of man, and therefore it is not required for salvation (since they exclude works from the plan of salvation). They arrive at this errant conclusion by a) ignoring Scripture, b) decreeing that baptism is a “good work” of man, and then c) because of their “faith alone” bias, they exclude it from salvation because they classify it as a “work.” I hope you followed that twisted logic!

This book is showing you that those who proclaim this “saved by faith alone” false teaching are triply wrong because:

  1. Baptism is not a “good work” of man,
  2. Baptism is required for salvation (to be born again, to receive forgiveness of sins), and
  3. Works (of obedience) do play an important role in the biblical plan of salvation.

Wayne Jackson writes: [10]

It is utterly incredible that some, professing an acquaintance with the New Testament, deny the role of works (obedience) in the sacred scheme of redemption. Jesus plainly taught that one must “work” for that spiritual sustenance which abides unto eternal life (Jn. 6:27), and that even faith itself is a divinely appointed “work” (Jn. 6:29).

The saved by “faith alone” false teaching comes primarily from those who call themselves “reformed protestants,”[11] and it is blaring out in ferocious volume 24/7/365 from so-called “Christian” pulpits, publications, radio stations, books, movies, and even seminary schools which train up new pastors in so-called “modern” and “reformed” Christianity. You see, I, too, was initially deceived by this false teaching because it was the only thing that I had ever heard taught and preached in any church that I attended!

I have explained in “The Nature of Salvation” chapter that there is a difference between initial salvation (“forgiveness of sins,” being “born again”) and final eternal salvation (“crown of life”). A lack of understanding of that difference can lead one to succumb to both the “saved by faith alone” false teaching as well as the “once saved always saved” false teaching. Furthermore, false teachings are usually all interwoven and interconnected together, tangled up into a giant knot/web of deception, and they also usually travel as a pack (like the “wolves” who teach them).[12]


But what about the verse where Isaiah says our “deeds” are as “filthy rags [garment]”:

For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. – Isaiah 64:6

As usual, the false teachers of the “faith alone” crowd engage in their most common magic trick: they take a verse completely out of context and distort and generalize it to mean whatever they wish. In the verse above, Isaiah is lamenting how wretched and pitiful (disgusting) the ancient Jews had become in their worship of the Lord. Even when they occasionally did “righteous deeds” according to the Mosaic Law, they did them half-heartedly, without sincerity, in rote mechanical observation without any hint of true reverence for the Lord.

Furthermore, a couple of additional comments are warranted on this verse as it’s widely used to support denial of the works component of salvation. First, compared to the unimaginable holiness of God, all things about us and anything we might do (including our works) will indeed appear as “filthy rags” when compared to the glory of God beheld. Secondly, it is an abuse of interpretation and disrespect to God to apply this to the specific commandments of Christ, to which we are to be obedient – in other words, the Isaiah verse is not to be generalized and applied to the works that a born-again Christian does in obedience to the explicit commands of Christ. Why would actions done in obedience to Christ’s commands be interpreted as “filthy rags”? By way of illustration, surely God would not consider the act (work) of preaching the Gospel to all creation (which is an act of obedience to one of Christ’s commands) to be viewed as a “filthy rag,” now would He? Such an interpretation does great violence to the Gospel and even to Christ Himself! “May it never be!” On the contrary, God would view such acts of obedience as being “well done” by a “good and faithful servant”!

However, we must always keep in mind that the works themselves do nothing whatsoever to enhance or make us righteous (forgiven of sin) before God – our righteousness before God is solely and wholly derived from Christ alone, and His blood sacrificed on the cross.


If you are still struggling to reconcile the role of works, it may also help you to read what has been written about the subject of faith vs. works by other saints who have come before us. First, here is what Wayne Jackson has written; I think it is very well said: [13]

Most Protestants, reacting adversely to the “works system” of Roman Catholicism, have adopted the extreme (and unscriptural) view that works play no role whatever in human salvation. Some allege that salvation is on the basis of “faith alone,” while others (e.g., radical Calvinists) argue that God chose the redeemed before the world began, and that redemption, therefore, is entirely unconditional.

“But is it not true” someone is bound to argue, “that the Scriptures state that we are not saved by works (Eph. 2:9)?” Yes, that is correct. But it is also the case that the New Testament asserts that we are saved, i.e., justified, by works (Jas. 2:14,24). Since the Bible, being the word of God, does not contradict itself, there must be a sensible solution to this seeming difficulty. How is the problem to be resolved?

Well, it is not (as Luther suggested) that one is at liberty to repudiate the book of James as an inspired document! Rather, the careful student must recognize that there are different kinds of works addressed in the divine record. Let us give brief consideration to this matter with a spirit of genuine investigation.

Works of the Law

In his letter to the Romans, Paul makes it clear that no one can be saved by keeping the works of Moses’ law. The apostle argued that “a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law” (3:28). The term “law” in this passage is broader than the Mosaic system, though it certainly includes that law.

This certainly does not suggest, however, that obedience to Christ may be ignored with impunity. In the same epistle, Paul affirmed that these saints in Rome had embraced freedom from the penalty of sin as a result of having been “obedient from the heart” to the “pattern of teaching” whereby they were delivered (6:17; cf. 3–4).

The works of the Mosaic law could not save because they required perfect compliance (Gal. 3:10b), which no person could achieve. Moreover, the regime of Moses had only the blood of animals, which could not atone for sin in the absolute sense (Heb. 10:4). The primary focus of the Hebrew system was to direct attention to the coming Messiah (Gal. 3:24–25); it was never designed to provide the ultimate phase of God’s plan of salvation. Had the Mosaic law that kind of power, Christ need never have died as the sin-offering (Gal. 2:21).

Works of Human Merit

In his Ephesian letter, Paul wrote: “[F]or by grace have you been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works that no man should glory” (2:8–9).

The works here excluded are charitable works which men pile up, imagining that such will justify them, while they, with a smug self-sufficiency, ignore the sacrifice of Christ and his redemptive system.

The Red Cross is famous for its benevolent efforts, but there is no justification to be found therein, because its “works” are mere human benevolent efforts, wholly divorced from the mission of the Son of God. The man who boasts: “I am a good person; I do not need Jesus Christ,” is guilty of the same mistake.

Works of Obedience

There are works mentioned in the Bible that are designated as “works of God.” By this expression it is not implied that these are works which God himself performs. Rather, they are works ordained of God, to be obeyed by men, that are indispensable to salvation.

Consider a text in John, chapter 6. The disciples inquired of the Lord: “What must we do, that we may work the works of God?”

Jesus responded: “This is the work of God that you believe on him who he has sent” (vv. 28–29). Observe that this “work of [from] God” required a human response — that of believing. Regarding the term “work,” as here used, J.H. Thayer commented: “… the works required and approved by God” (Clark, p. 248). [14]

The term “works” is sometimes the equivalent of “obedience.” Elsewhere Jesus promised victory to those who “keep my works,” i.e., the works (commands) prescribed by him (Rev. 2:26). If, therefore, all “works” are excluded from the plan of salvation, faith itself would be eliminated, for it is identified as a work.

It must be noted as well that “repentance” is a component in God’s scheme of redemption (Acts 2:38; 3:19). And yet, repentance is classified as a “work.” Jesus once said that the people of ancient Nineveh “repented” when Jonah preached to them (Mt. 12:41). The book of Jonah explains the meaning of this. God saw their “works, that they turned from their evil way” (3:10). There is no question about it, works — of a certain sort — are a part of the salvation process.

Next, I present commentary written by Matthew Henry on the role of faith and works. He correctly states that “faith alone” is not what saves, but it is faith with your works. He also reinforces that we have no reason to boast before God, even for the works we do out of obedience to God, for we are all fallen sinners undeserving of God’s grace, and we had no part in what Christ did on the cross – that was all God’s doing: [15]

In this latter part of the chapter (James 2), the apostle shows the error of those who rested in a bare profession of the Christian faith, as if that would save them, while the temper of their minds and the tenor of their lives were altogether disagreeable to that holy religion which they professed. To let them see, therefore, what a wretched foundation they built their hopes upon, it is here proved at large that a man is justified, not by faith only, but by works. Now,

  1. Upon this arises a very great question, namely, how to reconcile Paul and James… Amicae scripturarum lites, utinam et nostrae – There is a very happy agreement between one part of scripture and another, notwithstanding seeming differences: it were well if the differences among Christians were as easily reconciled.”Nothing,” says Mr. Baxter, “but men’s misunderstanding the plain drift and sense of Paul’s epistles, could make so many take it for a matter of great difficulty to reconcile Paul and James.” …
  2. When Paul says that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law(Rom 3:28), he plainly speaks of another sort of work than James does, but not of another sort of faith. Paul speaks of works wrought in obedience to the law of Moses, and before men’s embracing the faith of the gospel; and he had to deal with those who valued themselves so highly upon those works that they rejected the gospel (as Rom. 10, at the beginning most expressly declares); but James speaks of works done in obedience to the gospel, and as the proper and necessary effects and fruits of sound believing in Christ Jesus. Both are concerned to magnify the faith of the gospel, as that which alone could save us and justify us; but Paul magnifies it by showing the insufficiency of any works of the law before faith, or in opposition to the doctrine of justification by Jesus Christ; James magnifies the same faith, by showing what are the genuine and necessary products and operations of it.
  3. Paul not only speaks of different works from those insisted on by James, but he speaks of a quite different use that was made of good works from what is here urged and intended. Paul had to do with those who depended on the merit of their works in the sight of God, and thus he might well make them of no manner of account. James had to do with those who cried up faith, but would not allow works to be used even as evidence; they depended upon a bare profession, as sufficient to justify them; and with these he might well urge the necessity and vast importance of good works. As we must not break one table of the law, by dashing it against the other, so neither must we break in pieces the law and the gospel, by making them clash with one another: those who cry up the gospel so as to set aside the law, and those who cry up the law so as to set aside the gospel, are both in the wrong; for we must take our work before us; there must be both faith in Jesus Christ and good works the fruit of faith.
  4. The justification of which Paul speaks is different from that spoken of by James; the one speaks of our persons being justified before God, the other speaks of our faith being justified before men: “Show me thy faith by thy works,” says James, “let thy faith be justified in the eyes of those that behold thee by thy works”; but Paul speaks of justification in the sight of God, who justifies those only that believe in Jesus, and purely on account of the redemption that is in him. Thus we see that our persons are justified before God by faith, but our faith is justified before men by works. This is so plainly the scope and design of the apostle James that he is but confirming what Paul, in other places, says of his faith, that it is a laborious faith, and a faith working by love, Gal 5:6; 1Th 1:3; Tit 3:8; and many other places.

Paul may be understood as speaking of that justification which is inchoate, James of that which is complete; it is by faith only that we are put into a justified state, but then good works come in for the completing of our justification at the last great day; then, Come you children of my Father – for I was hungry, and you gave me meat, etc.

  1. Having thus cleared this part of scripture from everything of a contradiction to other parts of it, let us see what is more particularly to be learnt from this excellent passage of James; we are taught,
  2. That faith without works will not profit and cannot save us. What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?Observe here,

(1.) That faith which does not save will not really profit us; a bare profession may sometimes seem to be profitable, to gain the good opinion of those who are truly good, and it may procure in some cases worldly good things; but what profit will this be, for any to gain the world and to lose their souls? What doth it profit? – Can faith save him? All things should be accounted profitable or unprofitable to us as they tend to forward or hinder the salvation of our souls. And, above all other things, we should take care thus to make account of faith, as that which does not profit, if it does not save, but will aggravate our condemnation and destruction at last.

(2.) For a man to have faith, and to say he has faith, are two different things; the apostle does not say, If a man have faith without works, for that is not a supposable case; the drift of this place of scripture is plainly to show that an opinion, or speculation, or assent, without works, is not faith; but the case is put thus, If a man say he hath faith, etc. Men may boast of that to others, and be conceited of that in themselves, of which they are really destitute.

  1. We are taught that, as love or charity is an operative principle, so is faith, and that neither of them would otherwise be good for anything; and, by trying how it looks for a person to pretend he is very charitable who yet never does any works of charity, you may judge what sense there is in pretending to have faith without the proper and necessary fruits of it: “If a brother or a sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled, notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit”?Jas 2:15–17. What will such a charity as this, that consists in bare words, avail either you or the poor? Will you come before God with such empty shows of charity as these? You might as well pretend that your love and charity will stand the test without acts of mercy as think that a profession of faith will bear you out before God without works of piety and obedience. ”Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being along,”Jas 2:17. We are too apt to rest in a bare profession of faith, and to think that this will save us; it is a cheap and easy religion to say, “We believe the articles of the Christian faith”; but it is a great delusion to imagine that this is enough to bring us to heaven. Those who argue thus wrong God and put a cheat upon their own souls; a mock-faith is as hateful as mock-charity, and both show a heart dead to all real godliness. You may as soon take pleasure in a dead body, void of soul, or sense, or action, as God take pleasure in a dead faith, where there are no works.
  2. We are taught to compare a faith boasting of itself without works and a faith evidenced by works, by looking on both together, to try how this comparison will work upon our minds. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works. Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works, v. 18. Suppose a true believer thus pleading with a boasting hypocrite, “Thou makest a profession, and sayest thou hast faith; I make no such boasts, but leave my works to speak for me. Now give any evidence of having the faith thou professest without works if thou canst, and I will soon let thee see how my works flow from faith and are the undoubted evidences of its existence.” This is the evidence by which the scriptures all along teach men to judge both of themselves and others. And this is the evidence according to which Christ will proceed at the day of judgment. The dead were judged according to their works, Rev. 20:12. How will those be exposed then who boast of that which they cannot evidence, or who go about to evidence their faith by anything but works of piety and mercy!
  3. We are taught to look upon a faith of bare speculation and knowledge as the faith of devils: Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe, and tremble, v. 19. That instance of faith which the apostle here chooses to mention is the first principle of all religion. “Thou believest that there is a God, against the atheists; and that there is but one God, against the idolaters; thou doest well: so far all is right. But to rest here, and take up a good opinion of thyself, or of thy state towards God, merely on account of thy believing in him, this will render thee miserable: The devils also believe, and tremble. If thou contentest thyself with a bare assent to articles of faith, and some speculations upon them, thus far the devils go. And as their faith and knowledge only serve to excite horror, so in a little time will thine.” The word tremble is commonly looked upon as denoting a good effect of faith; but here it may rather be taken as a bad effect, when applied to the faith of devils. They tremble, not out of reverence, but hatred and opposition to that one God on whom they believe. To rehearse that article of our creed, therefore, I believe in God the Father Almighty, will not distinguish us from devils at last, unless we now give up ourselves to God as the gospel directs, and love him, and delight ourselves in him, and serve him, which the devils do not, cannot do.
  4. We are taught that he who boasts of faith without works is to be looked upon at present as a foolish condemned person. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? v. 20. The words translated vain man —anthrope kene, are observed to have the same signification with the word Raca, which must never be used to private persons, or as an effect of anger (Mt. 5:22), but may be used as here, to denote a just detestation of such a sort of men as are empty of good works, and yet boasters of their faith. And it plainly declares them fools and abjects in the sight of God. Faith without works is said to be dead, not only as void of all those operations which are the proofs of spiritual life, but as unavailable to eternal life: such believers as rest in a bare profession of faith are dead while they live.
  5. We are taught that a justifying faith cannot be without works, from two examples, Abraham and Rahab.

(1.) The first instance is that of Abraham, the father of the faithful, and the prime example of justification, to whom the Jews had a special regard (Jas 2:21): Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Paul, on the other hand, says (in ch. 4 of the epistle to the Romans) that Abraham believed, and it was counted to him for righteousness. But these are well reconciled, by observing what is said in Heb. 11, which shows that the faith both of Abraham and Rahab was such as to produce those good works of which James speaks, and which are not to be separated from faith as justifying and saving. By what Abraham did, it appeared that he truly believed. Upon this footing, the words of God himself plainly put this matter. Gen 22:16, Gen 22:17, Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son; therefore in blessing I will bless thee. Thus the faith of Abraham was a working faith (Jas 2:22), it wrought with his works, and by works was made perfect. And by this means you come to the true sense of that scripture which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness, Jas 2:23. And thus he became the friend of God. Faith, producing such works, endeared him to the divine Being, and advanced him to very peculiar favours and intimacies with God. It is a great honour done to Abraham that he is called and counted the friend of God. You see then (Jas 2:24) how that by works a man is justified (comes into such a state of favour and friendship with God), and not by faith only; not by a bare opinion, or profession, or believing without obeying, but by having such a faith as is productive of good works. Now besides the explication of this passage and example, as thus illustrating and supporting the argument James is upon, many other useful lessons may be learned by us from what is here said concerning Abraham.

[1.] Those who would have Abraham’s blessings must be careful to copy after his faith: to boast of being Abraham’s seed will not avail any, if they do not believe as he did.

[2.] Those works which evidence true faith must to works of self-denial, and such as God himself commands (as Abraham’s offering up his son, his only son, was), and not such works as are pleasing to flesh and blood and may serve our interest, or are the mere fruits of our own imagination and devising.

[3.] What we piously purpose and sincerely resolve to do for God is accepted as if actually performed. Thus Abraham is regarded as offering up his son, though he did not actually proceed to make a sacrifice of him. It was a done thing in the mind, and spirit, and resolution of Abraham, and God accepts it as if fully performed and accomplished.

[4.] The actings of faith make it grow perfect, as the truth of faith makes it act.

[5.] Such an acting faith will make others, as well as Abraham, friends of God. Thus Christ says to his disciples, I have called you friends, Joh 15:15. All transactions between God and the truly believing soul are easy, pleasant, and delightful. There is one will and one heart, and there is a mutual complacency. God rejoiceth over those who truly believe, to do them good; and they delight themselves in him.

(2.) The second example of faith’s justifying itself and us with and by works is Rahab: Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? Jas 2:25. The former instance was of one renowned for his faith all his life long, This is of one noted for sin, whose faith was meaner and of a much lower degree; so that the strongest faith will not do, nor the meanest be allowed to go without works. Some say that the word here rendered harlot was the proper name of Rahab. Others tell us that it signifies no more than a hostess, or one who keeps a public house, with whom therefore the spies lodged. But it is very probable that her character was infamous; and such an instance is mentioned to show that faith will save the worst, when evidenced by proper works; and it will not save the best without such works as God requires. This Rahab believed the report she had heard of God’s powerful presence with Israel; but that which proved her faith sincere was, that, to the hazard of her life, she received the messengers, and sent them out another way. Observe here,

[1.] The wonderful power of faith in transforming and changing sinners.

[2.] The regard which an operative faith meets with from God, to obtain his mercy and favour.

[3.] Where great sins are pardoned, there must prefer the honour of God and the good of his people before the preservation of her own country. Her former acquaintance must be discarded, her former course of life entirely abandoned, and she must give signal proof and evidence of this before she can be in a justified state; and even after she is justified, yet her former character must be remembered; not so much to her dishonour as to glorify the rich grace and mercy of God. Though justified, she is called Rahab the harlot.

  1. And now, upon the whole matter, the apostle draws this conclusion, As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also,Jas 2:26. These words are read differently; some reading them, As the body without the breath is dead, so is faith without works:and then they show that works are the companions of faith, as breathing is of life. Others read them, As the body without the soul is dead, so faith without works is dead also: and then they show that as the body has no action, nor beauty, but becomes a loathsome carcass, when the soul is gone, so a bare profession without works is useless, yea, loathsome and offensive. Let us then take head of running into extremes in this case. For,

(1.) The best works, without faith, are dead; they want their root and principle. It is by faith that any thing we do is really good, as done with an eye to God, in obedience to him, and so as to aim principally at his acceptance.

(2.) The most plausible profession of faith, without works, is dead: as the root is dead when it produces nothing green, nothing of fruit. Faith is the root, good works are the fruits, and we must see to it that we have both. We must not think that either, without the other, will justify and save us. This is the grace of God wherein we stand, and we should stand to it.


Scripture is abundantly clear that the Lord notices what a man does as much as what he says. This can be seen in the case of Nineveh, in the book of Jonah. At the preaching of Jonah (when he finally went to Nineveh after his three-day detour in the belly of a fish), the city of Nineveh repented of their sinful ways. However, note what Scripture says about how God viewed this situation:

When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it. – Jonah 3:10

It was their deeds that God noticed as proof of their repentance, so He relented on the judgment that He had pronounced on them. God needed to see their profession of faith borne out by their actions. They proved their repentance was genuine and sincere by their works! This is a great example of how your profession of faith and repentance are to be backed up by actions that demonstrate your sincerity of heart. In a further example from the book of Revelation, we see again that God takes notice of your deeds:

“He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.’” – Revelation 3:1

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: ‘I know your deeds….’” – Revelation 3:7–8

We also read that Christ will condemn those who profess faith (only) but are found idle when He comes:

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – Matthew 24:45–51 (ESV)

Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless. – 2 Peter 3:14

The writings of Matthew Henry are again instructive (on 2 Peter 3:14): [16]

“That you be found of Christ without spot, and blameless.” Follow after holiness as well as peace: and even spotless and perfect; we must not only take heed of all spots which are not the spots of God’s children (this only prevents our being found of men without spot), we must be pressing towards spotless purity, absolute perfection. Christians must be perfecting holiness, that they may be not only blameless before men, but also in the sight of God; and all this deserves and needs the greatest diligence; he who does this work negligently can never do it successfully. “Never expect to be found at that day of God in peace, if you are lazy and idle in this your day, in which we must finish the work that is given us to do. It is only the diligent Christian who will be the happy Christian in the day of the Lord. Our Lord will suddenly come to us, or shortly call us to him; and would you have him find you idle?” Remember there is a curse denounced against him who does the work of the Lord negligently, Marg. Jeremiah 48:10. Heaven will be a sufficient recompense for all our diligence and industry; therefore, let us labor and take pains in the work of the Lord; he will certainly reward us if we be diligent in the work he has allotted us; now, that you may be diligent, account the long-suffering of our Lord to be salvation.


When discussing works, we must also talk about boasting. Always remember that we are only sinners before God, and very frankly, we have nothing that God needs—and we have no righteousness of our own, it all comes from Christ, and no man can stand justified and righteous before God without being covered by the blood and righteousness of Christ. We can only offer our worship, love, and service to God, and our service is manifest through our works done for others. Therefore, nothing in this chapter should be misconstrued to mean you can or should boast about your good works—not before men and most certainly not before God, for:

  1. “There is no righteous person, not even one” – all righteousness comes from Christ, not from ourself (for we have none),
  2. You were saved from your sins and death (born again with your sins forgiven) by the grace of God through the blood of Christ, for it is that grace of God out of love (not your works) that put Christ on the cross so that your sins can be forgiven,
  3. You are obedient by the power of Christ living (abiding) in you,
  4. You are only able to do good works through Christ living (abiding) in you, and
  5. You also persevere in faith by the strength of Christ living (abiding) in you.

We must always remember that we have no righteousness of our own – for all righteousness is derived from the blood of Christ, but oh how that covers us like a white garment! As the apostle Paul writes, if we boast, let us boast of Christ and not of ourselves:

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. – Galatians 6:14

Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9–10

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 1:26–31

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves. – Philippians 2:3

And further:

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good besides You.” – Psalm 16:2

Always remember that “every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above,” and it is also written, “I can do all things through Him [Christ] who strengthens me.” So, boasting of any kind is wholly excluded from the behavior of the true Christian. Additionally, remember that grace means undeserved favor, wholly undeserved by anyone, for as Matthew Henry writes, we have forfeited it (and the right to eternal life) a thousand times already by our own actions (sins):[17]

His conclusion concerning both these we have, Rom 9:18. He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. The various dealings of God, by which he makes some to differ from others, must be resolved into his absolute sovereignty. He is debtor to no man, his grace is his own, and he may give it or withhold it as it pleaseth him; we have none of us deserved it, nay, we have all justly forfeited it a thousand times, so that herein the work of our salvation is admirably well ordered that those who are saved must thank God only, and those who perish must thank themselves only, Hos 13:9. We are bound, as God hath bound us, to do our utmost for the salvation of all we have to do with; but God is bound no further than he has been pleased to bind himself by his own covenant and promise, which is his revealed will; and that is that he will receive, and not cast out, those that come to Christ; but the drawing of souls in order to that coming is a preventing distinguishing favour to whom he will.

In our standing before God, it is Christ’s righteousness that counts, not ours. God is no respecter of abilities; the wisest, strongest, smartest, richest, most powerful man is but like a mere puff of wind, soon passing away again, back to dust. Pride is still a formidable enemy of the Christian, and it’s helpful to keep the words of John the Baptist in mind:

“He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:30


It was the grace of God that brought Christ down from heaven for us; this is what offers us the gift of salvation. We have been forgiven of sins and redeemed to new life only by the blood of Christ through faith in Christ. Forgiveness of sins (the blood of Christ) cannot be bought with money or earned through works – it is the gift of God through His kindness, love, mercy, and grace.

However, it is never written in Scripture that you are saved by “faith only”; in fact, just the opposite is explicitly stated (see Jas. 2:24)! Once born again, Scripture teaches us that genuine Christian faith, which is pleasing to God (i.e., not a “dead” faith), has as its natural result “good works” for the Lord, which result from active obedience to Christ (and His commandments), out of love for Christ, as a “bondservant” of Christ, as a “friend” of Christ, as a true “child of God,” as we love and serve others and we love and serve God. Such obedience and resulting works do not diminish anything about what Christ did on the cross; on the contrary, it glorifies Christ and brings glory to the Father.

As God’s grace was made manifest in Jesus, true genuine saving Christian faith is made manifest by your works/deeds. “Faith without works is dead”! Do you think that a “dead” faith will save you to eternal life? Will a “dead” faith please God? So now I ask you straight up: Do you want “dead” faith? Does the Bible state that God accepts “dead” faith? Does the Bible state that God even accepts “lukewarm” faith? The answer is unequivocally no to all those questions. It is further written that Christ expects to find you “doing” when He returns (at His Second Coming to judge the world). In fact, Scripture condemns those who profess to be in Christ in faith but who are found idle.

In the previous chapter, we learned that the life of a true Christian is marked by continued, willful obedience to the commandments of Christ as given in the New Testament. Since many of Christ’s commands involve taking action of some kind, you cannot be obedient to Christ and obey His commandments and yet not “do” anything!
Following those commands will result in us doing work for the Lord – “bearing fruit” for the Lord, helping to build the Kingdom of God, in which you are now a “fellow partaker” of as a born-again Christian. God expects those who are saved to “work” in His vineyard (Matt 20:1–16), which is His Kingdom. God does not condone nor tolerate idleness; on the contrary, idleness is condemned, and those who bear no fruit will be cut off. Scripture tells us that we will know false prophets by their fruit and that we (Christians) will also be known by our fruit…and even further, that “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

This isn’t to imply that you are being placed again under a great burden to produce good works continually (i.e., nonstop) or you lose your salvation. In fact, it is written: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Compared to being in bondage under sin with Satan as your master or trying to fulfill 100% of the requirements of the Mosaic Law yourself (which no man can do), you are under the amazing Law of Grace in Christ! Furthermore, Christ Himself now abiding in you gives you the necessary wisdom, strength, power, and perseverance to produce fruit (through good works) for the Lord. Amazing! I hope you see how easy and light that is?

If you are waking up each day seeking to do God’s will instead of your own, loving God and loving and serving others, good works will be the natural result. If you love God, you will do what pleases Him. What pleases Him is that you love and serve others. How do you show love? You support, help, instruct, provide for, care for, and serve others as if they were yourself. You place other people’s needs first. We are also told to share the gospel far and wide, to the very ends of the earth; I don’t believe that there is any dispute over this “good work” that is commanded. These actions (works) are what produce fruit for the Lord.

Please also realize that we are not all called to do the same works. Some examples of good works might include:

  • Helping those who are needy, widows, homeless, sick, in prison, etc.,
  • Leading someone to Christ by sharing the gospel with them,
  • Raising your children to know and love the Lord,
  • Looking after the needs of your family,
  • Being kind and considerate to others so that your “light shines before men,”
  • Doing your job well, with integrity and honesty, and with an attitude of: “whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord and not for people,”
  • Loving others as yourself,
  • Just doing a kind deed

Some will be called to great works and others to more routine works—but all works done in obedience to Christ are good works. Remember, it is written: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” We are following the examples set before us of the giants in the faith that have preceded us—Noah, Abraham, Moses, Paul, and even Jesus Himself. Writing this book was an attempt to do a good work for the Lord by sharing the gospel “message of truth” with others. There is no ulterior motive, and hopefully, it will be counted as a “good work,” but I won’t know until the great Day of Judgment when all works are tested as if by fire, to see if any of them stand as being worthy. I’d like to see some of my works survive as having produced fruit for the Lord.

So, faith and works aren’t mutually exclusive, nor are they in opposition to each other. They are like two sides of the same hand, both working together, with one important exception: faith comes first, and it is by and through your faith in Christ that you can do any works. Christ expects your faith to be an active faith, not passive or idle (or even “lukewarm”). When God says He will do something, He always does; in contrast, what man says, he seldom does. Hence it is written: “be doers of the word, not hearers only”—it is not the hearers and idle professors (“make believers”) of the Word which will be saved, but “doers” of the Word. I hope you can see that it is by actual deeds and works that you prove your faith is a real, genuine, saving faith. for if you do not act on your faith, your faith will neither justify you nor save you to eternal salvation; it is what the Bible calls a “dead faith.”

It is my works that testify (demonstrate, prove) that I am a Christian, and it is your works that testify (demonstrate, prove) that you are a Christian. Your works actually complete (perfect) your faith. You may choose to stand before the Lord on “the day of judgment” without any works (of faith done in obedience), but I want to be able to stand before Him on that Day both covered by the “righteousness” of Christ (Rom. 5:17, 31; 8:10; 10:6, 1 Cor. 1:30; Php. 1:11; Php. 3:9; 2 Pet. 1:1), “by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13; cf. 1 Pet. 1:2; Rev. 1:5), for “the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:38) and also “justified” (see Jas. 2:21–25) by being able to say: “Lord, I show you my faith by my works” (see Jas. 2:18), and by doing so, stand in the blessed company of Noah, Abraham, and countless others who will be able to do the same.

I hope that this chapter has helped the following verses become clear:

But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” – James 2:18

You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected. – James 2:22

Let’s close with a verse:

Then He [Jesus] said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” – Matthew 9:37–38 (my bold italics)

In the next chapter, we discuss the final component of the Christian plan of redemption/salvation: persevering in faith unto death.



“Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” – Matthew 3:8-10

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. – James 1:22

And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him.” – Luke 24:19-20

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. – Galatians 5:6

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” – Matthew 7:15-20

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” – John 15:1-8

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth. – 1 Peter 1:17

Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. – 2 John 1:8

…so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:17

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. – Colossians 3:23-24

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16

And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. – Hebrews 13:16

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. – Galatians 6:9

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. – James 4:17

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in your power to do it.
Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give it,”
When you have it with you. – Proverbs 3:27-28

They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. – Titus 1:16

Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. – 1 Timothy 6:18-19

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. – Titus 2:11-14

For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. – Hebrews 6:10

…and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. – Hebrews 10:24

This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. – Titus 3:8

Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. – Titus 2:6-8

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 15:58

According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 3:10-11

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed. – 2 Corinthians 9:8

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:9-14

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk. Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”

Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.”

When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it. – Jonah 3

“‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first.’” – Revelation 2:19

By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. – Hebrews 11:7

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” – Hebrews 11:17-18

We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father. – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

…that they are to repent and turn to God, performing deeds [works] consistent with repentance. – Acts 26:20


[1] See https://christiancourier.com/articles/the-role-of-works-in-gods-plan-of-redemption

[2] No correct interpretation or understanding of one part/verse of Scripture can contradict another part/verse of Scripture. If your interpretation of one verse causes it to conflict with another verse, then it is your interpretation that is wrong, not Scripture. Additionally, you cannot interpret verses of Scripture that may be more difficult to understand (i.e., passages which are more obscure or symbolic) in a way that contradicts another simple, clear, direct, literal, and easily understood verse of Scripture.

[3] See also Jackson, Wayne. “Buy a Sword?” ChristianCourier.com. Access date: November 8, 2018. https://christiancourier.com/articles/buy-a-sword

[4] We must remember that the Jewish religion under the Mosaic Law was one based in large part on works; this is why Paul is correcting them sternly in the books of Galatians and Ephesians—that salvation is not of those works done under the Mosaic Law. The early Christians, many of whom were Jews, kept wanting to return to that old system, which was done away with (abolished and fulfilled) on the cross, and they also were turning others (gentiles) back into doing works of the law to obtain salvation, and hence they were placing themselves once again under the curse of the law, instead of grace under Christ.

[5] Also, slave; see Matt. 25:21; 1 Cor. 7:22

[6] Jackson, Wayne. “God’s Great Plan Consummated.” ChristianCourier.com. Access date: September 14, 2020. https://christiancourier.com/articles/gods-great-plan-consummated

[7] Or your eschatology (end-times prophecy)

[8] It is helpful to understand where this “faith alone” false teaching originated. It didn’t start until many centuries after Christ. It came about when Protestantism arose during the reformation movement to counter the blatantly unscriptural teachings of Roman Catholicism, which included concepts such as 1) the “selling of indulgences (sins)” (i.e., you can buy forgiveness), and 2) that “meritorious good works” justify man before God. This is what the “faith alone” advocates are usually referring to by a “works-based salvation”: i.e., obtaining salvation (justification before God, forgiveness of sins) by doing meritorious works. While opposition to the Roman Catholic Church’s corrupt teachings was much needed, the Reformed Protestant movement (generally credited to Martin Luther in 1517) erred by pushing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction by negating the role of works altogether from the plan of salvation. In fact, Martin Luther objected to the book of James – he did not think it was part of the canon of Scripture (because he didn’t agree with it!). Even further, he then rewrote Romans 3:28 by adding the word “only” to it! The word “only” is not found in the original Greek texts from which he was translating. Yes, Luther changed (added to) Scripture to make it conform to his own beliefs!

[9] Note: Those who teach this usually also teach the “sinner’s prayer” false teaching—that you are saved to eternal life by simply saying a one-time prayer “inviting Christ into your heart,” which is nowhere to be found in the Bible!

[10] Jackson, Wayne. “JUSTIFICATION: By Faith or Works?” ChristianCourier.com. Access date: November 8, 2018. https://christiancourier.com/articles/justification-by-faith-or-works

[11] Also Calvinists/Calvinism.

[12] The “saved by faith alone,” “sinner’s prayer,” and the “once saved, always saved” false teachings almost always come together as a pack; where you find one, you will almost always find the others.

[13] Jackson, Wayne. “The Role of “Works” in God’s Plan of Redemption.” ChristianCourier.com. Access date: November 8, 2018. https://christiancourier.com/articles/the–role-of-works-in-gods-plan-of-redemption

[14] Clark, T. & T., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Edinburgh, 1958.

[15] Henry, Matthew. Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, London. 1706–1710/1721.

[16] Henry, Matthew. Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, London. 1706–1710/1721.

[17] Henry, Matthew. Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, London. 1706–1710/1721.

[18] You must study Scripture enough to know what all the commandments of Christ actually are, for if you don’t even know what they are, how can you keep them? For more information, see The Commandments of Christ book that we publish.

Cite this article

Anderson, R. John. "4.3 The Role of Works." EachDay.org. Access date: April 12, 2024. https://eachday.org/part-iv-the-way-of-a-christian/4-3-the-role-of-works/