No one is good to be saved. But we are saved to do good. In these two simple sentences, our church senior pastor summarised the essence of the Christian faith and good works. This principle of salvation by faith and good works after faith is found in
But what about the teachings found in
This passage is not about salvation by works. It does not contradict the one in Ephesians. How so?
First, James wrote this book to encourage Christians. It was not written to non-believers. He was not telling non-Christians to do good works to be right with God. Man is sinful by nature. No matter how good he tries to be, he falls short of God’s standard. All his good works cannot make up for his sins. God does not need our good works in exchange for his forgiveness for the wrongs we’ve done. He just needs us to believe in His Son, Jesus – to accept Him as our Saviour. Jesus paid the price of our sin on the cross. Our faith alone gets us right with God.
Second, James emphasised it is important for Christians to do good as proof of their faith. James spoke about true religion of being kind to widows and orphans (1:27). He warned about showing favouritism to the rich and looking down on the poor (2:1-13). James spoke of faith in action – not by words alone because actions often speak louder than words.
It is sad that Christians are often criticised for their lack of good testimony. Their actions and way of life do not show the love of God. God loves us and He wants us to love others just as He loves us. Faith in Jesus gets us right with God. To believe in Jesus also means being like Jesus. Jesus obeys God in all He does. We are true followers of Jesus when we obey God’s commandment to love. Love God and love our neighbour. True faith is about loving our neighbour just as God commands us.