In the sermon this past week (watch it here), Pastor Andrew said that if we have true faith, then good works are inevitable—they are a forgone conclusion. I want to explore that from a biblical perspective. Why is that true?
Faith Signals Rebirth
In the book of James that we are studying, James says in 1:18 “Of [God’s] own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” This literally means that God birthed us by the word—Christians have experienced a spiritual second birth. The word of truth is the gospel, and it is what creates new life in us. And this is done by the Holy Spirit:
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
The Holy Spirit who regenerates us and renews us is received by believing the gospel (Gal. 3:2). So, everyone who receives the message of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection and trusts in it is given the Spirit and is “justified by his grace.”
Created for Good Works
Those who have been reborn by the Spirit through the word are called a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). We can consider it like this: we have the seed of our new, glorified, purely obedient natures sown in us like seed which is constantly growing and changing us into the likeness of Christ. As time progresses, this seed will produce more and more fruit. This is the purpose for why we were saved during this time. Paul says in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
The fact that you were saved during this generation is that God has plans for you here and now, and to accomplish them, he is going to make you into the type of person who will be obedient to him from the heart. This is not always perfect because we still have some of our old natures that stick around for far too long, but the Christian is on a growth trajectory.
Faith without Works Is Dead
So, maybe we can understand what James means when he says faith without works is dead. True faith is a real event with results that reveal themselves in the life of a believer. If these results aren’t being produced, then the obvious conclusion is that this person doesn’t have a true faith regardless of whether they say they do or not.
A true faith coincides with being a new creation, a person who is ever growing into the likeness of the loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful, and self-controlled Son of God. God has promised this, and if you truly have faith, he is bringing it to pass.
– Alex Nolette (Equip Coordinator/Community Groups)