Is Faith Possible Without Works?
By David J. Stewart | January 2018
Romans 4:5, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
Can a person have works without faith? Yes, as evidenced in Matthew 7:21-23. These “workers of iniquity” (as the Lord called them) performed “many wonderful WORKS” in Jesus' name, but they went about to establish their own righteousness, instead of submitting themselves to the righteousness of God, which is through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:3-4; 2nd Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9).
Can a person have faith without works? Yes, as evidenced in John 12:42-43. The Scriptures say that “many of the chief rulers BELIEVED” (had faith) on the Lord Jesus Christ, but they “DID NOT CONFESS HIM.” They were afraid of persecution from the Pharisees. They had faith without works! Also, we see the repentant thief on the cross, who had no time to shew forth any works.
And again we see in 1st Corinthians 3:15, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, that some men will barely “be saved; yet so as by fire.” 1st Corinthians 3:15, “If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” Clearly, this man was saved but HAD NO WORKS! So if works were necessary to validate faith for salvation, then this man could not have gone to Heaven. Yet, the Bible teaches that “HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED,” despite having NO WORKS whatsoever!!! So many Christians today are living shallow lives, choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life (Luke 8:14), who never bear any fruit (no souls saved) unto the Lord. God's desire for every believer is to mature so that they “BRING FORTH FRUIT” (Luke 8:15). Fruitless believers won't shine in Heaven (Daniel 12:3). It is every believer's duty to share the Gospel with the lost. God is our co-laborer (1st Corinthians 3:8-9). The Holy Spirit speaks to people's hearts, as our words speak to their minds. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to “THEM THAT BELIEVE” (Romans 1:16).
In return for our trust (faith) in His only begotten Son, God the Father offers us forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Works have no part in God's free grace. Anyone who says that faith is invalid without "works" is adding human effort to the Gospel. Thank God for the free gift of eternal life!
And please consider our text verse from Romans 4:5. A man's faith is counted for righteousness, even though that man has no works. Romans 4:5-6, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” So here again we see very clearly from the Scriptures, that God imputes (credits) RIGHTEOUSNESS WITHOUT WORKS!!! So, obviously faith can exist without works, since God accepts a man's faith apart from having any works. When the apostle James says that faith without works is dead, he is strictly speaking about justification in the eyes of man. Since a man's faith is counted for righteousness in God's sight, then why would God look for “works” to validate that man's faith? That wouldn't make any sense at all! Think about this great truth!!! Why would the same God who justifies a man BY FAITH without works, turn around and require works to validate that believer's faith? The very idea is absurd!!!
James says that “faith without works is dead.” James didn't say that faith doesn't exist without works. Dead faith is still faith in God's eyes. The smallest amount of faith saves! Concerning salvation, God is not looking for degrees of faith, He is simply looking for faith! Abram (Abraham) believed the Lord in Genesis 15:6 and it was COUNTED TO HIM for righteousness (Romans 4:5-6). This is the imputed righteousness of God, which is through faith in Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:9). By faith, God transfers our sins to Christ on the cross, and He transfers Christ's righteousness to us. We don't have to "ask" Jesus to forgive our sins, because He has already paid for them with His precious blood. God has already promised “TO SAVE THEM THAT BELIEVE” (1st Corinthians 1:21).
We are justified by faith alone in the sight of God, because he can see our heart. However, we are justified by works in the eyes of men, because they cannot see our soul. So works are necessary for faith in the eyes of men, but works are not required for justification in God's sight. Faith can exist without works for salvation. A group of people asked Jesus what “works” they should do to work the works of God. Jesus replied in John 6:28-29, “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” “Believing” is the only “work” required to be saved!
The Holy Bible is filled with saints who had faith, but no works. Samson went with harlots. Noah got drunk. Solomon was a sex pervert. Demas forsook the ministry because he loved the world. God killed Ananias and Sapphira for stealing and lying. If works were necessary to validate faith, then it would cause big problems, because HOW MANY works would be required? What if a professed believer had few works? What if some had many works, but then quit later on and had none? Who would be qualified to make that decision? The churches today are filled with fruit inspectors, going around condemning others who sin, accusing them of never having repented (and so they are told they are not really saved). The truth is that a person could reform their ways, live a clean life, walk uprightly amongst men, and yet never have been saved at all. So “works” would give a false indication of that person's salvation if men needed works to be saved. Clearly, works are not required to validate faith for salvation. I love something that I heard Pastor Ralph Yankee Arnold (one of my favorite preachers) say last week...
“If all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, then why would you use those rags to prove that you're saved?” (a beautiful quote from Pastor Ralph "Yankee" Arnold, from the timeless MP3 sermon, “How Do I Know God Really Loves Me?”
Isaiah 64:6 teaches that all of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags to God. Good works cannot get us saved, and they cannot be used to prove that we are saved! Many unsaved religious people have good works. As Dr. John R. Rice (1895-1980) used to teach, the ONLY way to determine if someone is saved is by the direct testimony from their own mouth.
Jesus repeatedly told people that “Thy faith hath saved thee!” Nothing is mentioned about works. Repeatedly throughout the New Testament we are told that people were saved simply by BELIEVING, with no mention of works. The Gospel of John is God's Gospel Tract, in which the words “believe” and “believed” are mentioned 85 times, but the word “repent” is never mentioned once.
Having said that, works are important for every believer to have, because WE ARE saved, not to BE SAVED. Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
God created us in Christ Jesus (i.e., gave us new life) UNTO GOOD WORKS!!! God didn't save us so we could do nothing and float through life in sin and rebellion. There are consequences for choosing to live in sin (2nd Corinthians 5:10-11). Albeit, even when we choose to live for God, we are still going to sin every day, because we are sinners by nature and by choice. As long as we are in the flesh, we will sin (Romans 7:14-25). A believer may live above reproach, but no believer can live above sin. But this is a matter of discipleship, and not sonship. This is a matter of following Christ as the Lord of our life, and not a matter of Him already being our Savior. Once saved, always saved. or as I like to say it... If saved, always saved! Every believer ought to have works, which is our “reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
It needs to be pointed out that a believer does not produce works of their own accord, as a result of salvation; but rather, Christ lives the Christian life through us. The indwelling Holy Spirit produces “fruit” in every believer (Galatians 5:22-25). Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Thus, we see that God saves us by His wondrous power, and then He lives the Christian life through us if we let Him, by yielding to the Holy Spirit in obedience to the Word of God. So the idea that God saves us by His grace, and then we are required to forsake sins and live an upright life to “prove” that we are saved, is totally unscriptural. The “proof” of my salvation is the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit (1st John 3:24), and not the way I choose to live my life. Only I personally can determine if I am saved, if I am indwelt with the Spirit of God, which is what the Epistle of 1st John is all about (1st John 5:13). Can a person have faith without works? Yes, absolutely!
"When someone does something wrong, make it a point to never forget all the things they did right." —Pastor Bob Gray Sr.
You Can Still Do What You Always Could Do
(MP3, Dr. Jack Hyles; A pastor is a position, not a calling. You can forfeit a position, but never your calling to preach!)
Souls Are Dying!
Precious Christian Testimonies
How Permanent Is Your Salvation?
(an excellent MP3 sermon by Pastor Hank Lindstrom, 1940-2008)
of the child of God is that he loves everybody!”
(a quote from Pastor Jack Hyles' classic MP3 sermon, “FORGIVENESS”)
Ye Must Be Born Again! | You Need HIS Righteousness!