Can you imagine a salesman who never sold a product … a surgeon who never performed a surgery … a trial lawyer who never tried a case … an interior decorator who never decorated the interior of anything … a teacher who never taught … a preacher who never preached … a congressman who never wrote one piece of meaningful legislation? Maybe that last one is a bad example, but you get my point. A profession demands evidence. And so does a profession of faith. Someone has asked, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” That’s a great question, isn’t it? The purpose of this booklet is to show that true faith produces “convicting” evidence.
Does the Bible teach “faith by works,” “faith plus works,” or “faith that works”?
In the history of the church, there has been a variety of teaching regarding the issue of faith. Many have taught that a relationship with God must be earned by good works. You have to go to church, say your prayers, give a certain amount of money, take communion, be baptized and help little old ladies across the street. Then, when your time is up, God will take out his eternal balancing scales. He will place your good deeds on one side and your bad deeds on the other. With heaven and hell in the balance, you will stand before God and hope against hope that your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds by at least a nanogram. Talk about stress!
Others teach that a relationship with God is all about faith … plus the things you need to do in order to complete your relationship. It’s kind of like taking out a loan to buy a house. You can live in the house as long as you make the payments. But, if your missed mortgage payments pile up, you will risk foreclosure and losing your home. Talk about pressure to perform!
But faith is not by works or plus works. Scripture clearly teaches that an eternal relationship with the holy God is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. There is nothing we can do to earn or complete our standing before God. Salvation is a free gift. The Apostle Paul made this clear when he wrote, “For by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
But God does not stop at simply making us his child. We are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). God has graciously gifted us with a faith that works. So, here’s the question. What does a faith that works look like in the life of a true believer? How can we know beyond any doubt that we possess such faith?
Let’s make sure we are on the same page when it comes to a genuine relationship with God. A faith that works begins with saving faith. Let’s use the acronym “KAT” (Knowledge, Agreement, Trust) to help us understand what saving faith is all about.
Knowledge: Saving faith begins with an understanding of what the Bible says regarding my sinful state and God’s gracious remedy. Scripture says that I am a sinner and cannot save myself. My best effort on
my best day falls short of God’s holy standard. Because of my sin, I will be separated from God for eternity. So God did for me what I couldn’t do for myself. He sent his Son to die on the cross as a perfect
sacrifice for my sin. The Bible says that I can trust in Jesus as the One who paid the penalty of sin for me and enter into a relationship with the living God. But this knowledge alone is not saving faith.
Agreement: Not only must I know what the Bible says about my condition and God’s remedy, but I must agree with what Scripture says. I must agree with God’s Word that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I must agree that Jesus came to pay the penalty for my sin. I must agree that my trust in Jesus places me into an eternal relationship with the living God. So far, so good … but knowledge and agreement are not saving faith. There is one more essential step.
Trust: I must place my trust in Jesus alone as the One who died for me and the only One who can place me into an eternal relationship with God. The Bible says that Jesus died for me. I agree that Jesus died
for me. I trust in Jesus alone as the One who died for my sins.