Hebrews 11:1 says: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen. Between this passage and the last few verses of James 2 has been a struggle for many people. It’s been so much of a struggle that many people have left the church over. I’d like to address this particular topic because we all can get it twisted sometimes. Having said that, I pray that you have an open mind and heart as you read this.
Some people will say that faith is more important than works.
Some people will say that works is more important than faith.
Both of those sentences have caused major confusion. If the truth be told, both faith and works are equally important, no more or less. A proper balance is needed.
For those who say faith is more important than works. Let’s talk about this for a moment. Some people will have faith in multiple things: such as a car, money, a new job, a new business and that’s fine. Notice that those are things that are unseen yet. Here’s a thought: if we have faith in those things mentioned above, how come we don’t step out on faith and do what we’re called to do? Have we become part of the rat race (and complacent)? Before we go further, hold my feet to the fire on this (ensuring that I’m not complacent and that I also step out on faith to do what I’m called to do). What I’m talking about here is a prime example of faith without works is dead.
A great example: I believe I’m called to be a singer and songwriter, but I sit on my talent because I’m scared of what’s going to happen. I could face rejection or my family and friends will laugh at me.
This example shows that you have faith in your calling, but no works are added to it. There’s a passage in Luke 14:28-33 that says “for which of you intends to build a tower sits down first and count the cost.” Why is this statement so important? Because a verse or two later, it’s stated if the tower is not completed, that person will be a laughing stock (yes, I’m paraphrasing that, but you get the point).
Some can go overboard with faith and say that it’s more important than works, hope and love. Faith can’t do anything without works, hope and love.
For those who say works are more important than faith. Let’s talk about this for a moment. Some people say that works are mandatory in order to ensure your salvation. Well, yes & no. Yes, because your works demonstrates your faith; however, works doesn’t ensure your salvation. It’s recorded in the Old Testament that our works according to God are nothing more than a filthy rag. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound too good. Christ died for us in order to have salvation without any part of ours (accept to receive it from Him). If our works determined how clean we are, then we could be clean by rolling in mud.
I need to add that Paul & the book of Hebrews were referring to faith from a vertical standpoint (man to God and vice versa); James was referring to faith from a horizontal standpoint (brother/sister to brother/sister). When you read passages such as Titus 2:5 and Ephesians 2:8-10, you’ll find that faith precedes the works and the works are evidence of our faith. Notice the balance here. You can’t have one without the other (and must be balanced).