Here is a common question that Christians like to ask each other to try and establish what their theology is. “Do you believe in faith or works?” My answer is usually “Yes”. I know there is a general trend out there that there is a ‘faith-based theology’ and a ‘works-based theology’, and then other Christians who say that you need both (a bit of a cliché). I do believe that you need both, but it isn’t as simple as that. Let me explain.
Faith-based theology says that we are saved by believing in Jesus and not by what we do. Some people take it too far and say that works are not necessary at all. Works-based theology says that we need to do good deeds. Some people take it too far by saying that if we don’t do these deeds we are not saved. I think the Bible is pretty clear. John 3:16 doesn’t say anything about works, and James 2:26 shows that our faith without works is useless. What does this mean? It means that they are both just as important as the other, but I would like to look at the relationship between the two. I know there is more to this, but we can look at the rest at a later stage.
Let’s look at the first part of the title. Work in faith. What does that mean? Whatever work that you do, do it in faith. The widow who gave the coins to the church (Mark 12:41-44) gave the coins (works) but believed that God would honour that (faith). If she didn’t believe that God would look after her, she probably wouldn’t have done it. That is what I mean by work in faith – when you do the work, have the faith that the work will be fruitful. The lack of faith will hinder us from doing the works. Look at the rich man who was asked by Jesus to give up his riches – he couldn’t do it. Why? Because he didn’t have faith. Yes, he loved money, but if he had given it up for Jesus, would he not have made it all back again? Very possibly. People love to misquote the passage of Job to try and show that God does put us through hardship (by allowing the devil a free run), but what they often leave out is how Job got it all back again. I don’t know for a fact that the rich man would have received it back again, but his faith was in money and not in Jesus. This is not too difficult for us to get our heads around, and most of us would say that this makes sense, however the next bit is what almost caught me out.
The second part of the title. Faith in works. This is one that can sneak up on you. I have done some exciting things like prophesy, deliverance, healing and discernment. All essentially works, but done in faith. The problem is these things can actually become a crutch. I get so used to these things, that when the going gets tough, I get going with ministry. I start to put my faith in the works, rather than the other way around. I start to trust in my gifts rather that trusting in Christ. This is when I have to think about things, and get back to basics. This is not a huge issue if you realise it and sort it out but, if you don’t, it could become a huge issue.
So, to sum up, we need to do works and we need faith to do them. Just be careful not to put your faith in the work that you do, keep your faith in Christ.
Keep working on your faith.