Faith Plus Works?

Q. In a question on law and grace, you made this statement: “During the dispensation of Law, believers had to give evidence of their faith by keeping the Law. During the Dispensation of Grace, also known as the Church Age, this evidence is not required.”

My question is: that James speaks of our faith as dead without works. To me this means that our faith is also evidenced by our works – not that our works save us, our salvation as in the OT is also based on faith. But in the NT, if we do not have works that evidence our faith as well, then that faith is dead. Not understanding how you can say this based on James teachings.

A. It’s the difference between Law and Grace. In the Old Testament believers were required to keep the Law. That means the 613 commandments found in the Torah. New Testament believers have no such requirement. But genuine faith will automatically prompt behavior that’s beneficial to others. James mentioned things such as feeding and clothing the poor (James 2:15-17). Neither James nor anyone else said these things are required of us, but they give us an indication of how well we’re translating our faith into action.

This was not meant as an admonition to go out and start doing some good works to prove that we’re saved. We’re saved whether we demonstrate works or not (Ephesians 1:13-14, 1 Cor. 3:10-15). But unless we listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and offer help to the less fortunate, our faith will have no value in the world around us.

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