Works without faith have no meaning
Published 8:27 am Friday, May 12, 2023
From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham
Dear Rev. Graham: My coworker and I enjoy discussing biblical topics. We want to learn more about faith and works. Which is the most important in the Christian faith? – W.F.
Dear W.F.: People have debated about faith and works and which one carries the most weight with God. Jesus didn’t offer a choice of faith or works. The Scripture teaches that works without faith have no meaning, because we cannot work our way to Heaven.
Those who testify of their goodness often talk about paying their taxes on time, never defrauding anyone, being faithful to their spouse, and giving to charity. But God is clear that our righteousness is like a filthy rag. There’s nothing we can do to measure up to God’s standard.
Once we are saved, however, God expects us – in fact, He commands us – to not be hearers of the Word only, but doers as well. Works, when we are in Christ, are an extension of Christ’s ministry. In fact, works are not ends in themselves, but they demonstrate God’s love toward others so that they will know God loves them and so that they will desire to learn about God’s provision for their greatest needs.
The Bible says a man in a ditch is not helped if we pass by, wish him well, and tell him of God’s love. No, God’s love is demonstrated by attending to the man’s physical needs and helping him out of the ditch. This is how people learn that the Father has sent the Son. Works must never replace faith and the sharing of the Gospel, but they are a natural extension of faith. And our works are manifested in living according to the fruits of the Spirit.
Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)