Are we Saved by Faith Alone and Not Works?

When we have faith in the saving grace of Jesus we are by the unmerited grace of God forgiven. So why is it that we are not saved by keeping the law? Because Paul said, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” If we were relying on keeping the law to be saved, then we would be eternally lost because there was only One who kept the law perfectly.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

It is no wonder so many get confused with this teaching and Paul is certainly not easy to understand at times. Paul also said in Romans 3:20, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” And a few verses later he also says in Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

After reading these scriptures alone, we could easily conclude that we no longer have to obey the law or is there more that our adversary and the proponents who teach against our Lords instructions are not telling us? There is no doubt that we are saved by faith in Jesus and the grace of God but does this make the law null and void?

If we continue reading Romans chapter 3 to its conclusion, we find that Paul does not leave us in the dark and answers this question leaving no uncertainty. Using the NKJV for clarity, Paul says: Romans 3:31Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

Praise God for Paul's clear and unmistakable words in verse 31. Since we are not saved by keeping the law as we would have to keep it perfectly to do this, then who is just before God. Romans 2:13 says, “For NOT the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

As you can see, we are not saved by keeping the law as we would be hopelessly lost if we were trying to. This is why we are saved by the Grace of God by faith in Jesus' redeeming sacrifice, but Paul makes it quite clear that we do still uphold the law as one would expect and to this there can be no mistake. Read also not under law but under grace and were the Ten Commandments abolished.

In so saying, be wary of those who say faith only and nothing else. The type of works Paul is referring to above is trying to earn your salvation by keeping the law perfectly, which we cannot do, and why it is faith in the sacrifice of Christ that covers us when we accidentally sin after repenting and confessing our sin and asking for forgiveness. But there is another type of works referred to in scripture by James and this one is essential for salvation.

Saved by faith alone that worksJames 2:14 says, “What does it profit, my brethren, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? can faith save him?” So what works is James referring to? He is referring to acts of love and charity towards others, which can easily be seen by the following two verses. James 2:15-16If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, depart in peace, be you warmed and filled; notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit?” Hence this goes beyond the sin of not keeping the Ten Commandments, which are about loving others by the things you should not do that hurt them such as murder, adultery, lying and stealing etc. But there is also the sin of omission. That is the things that you don't do and should do if you had true love for others which should be a result of your love and faith in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17) James shows that faith that does not produce mercy and compassion and acts of charity is dead and in vain. Hence James completes this chapter with the following words. James 2:17-24Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone. Yes, a man may say, You have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believest that there is one God; you doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? ... You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” So please do not be deceived or confused on this faith issue, as just believing in Christ by faith alone and doing nothing else will not save you.

The wrong reason and way to keep the law.
Trying to keep the law to be saved for the sole purpose of salvation. (This is works) Salvation will not be achieved as only Christ could keep the law perfectly so our efforts would be in vain. One would also fail because obeying the law is not motivated by love but because one is trying to earn entrance into the kingdom. (Works and Legalism) This was the error of the Galatians in that they were trying to earn their salvation by keeping the Mosaic Law. Not the Ten Commandments as many think in error. See Galatians and the law for detail. It makes no difference which law anyway as you cannot earn your salvation by trying to keep any law. Keeping the law must be something you do because you love God and your neighbour. And if not kept for the sole reason of love, then it is works and of no value. If only people could understand the simplicity of this instead of looking for excuses to disobey God which is not love, and that lack of love for God and others is what will shut them out of the kingdom. Love is the key!

The right reason and way to keep the law.
Jesus said, If we love Him, then keep His Commandments. (John 14:15) Thus we should desire to obey the law because we love God. And if we do love Him, then when we unintentionally sin, we will automatically repent (be sorrowful) for breaking His law. 1 John 1:9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” After repentance comes confessing our sin and asking for forgiveness. This is where faith comes in. We believe by faith that the sacrifice of Christ cleanses us from all sin. Then comes the free gift from God. Ephesians 2:8-9For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” We receive God's grace which is His unmerited and undeserved favour that we receive due to Christ interceding on our behalf as a result of His sacrifice. (1 Timothy 2:5) There is however no sacrifice that will cover wilful and un-repented sin. (Hebrews 10:26-29) This is not to say that if one comes to genuine repentance later in time that he will not be forgiven as this is not so. Christ will always forgive those who come to true repentance.