Have you ever heard this question before? Or, maybe you’re the one asking it! It is a great question to ask for fresh Christians, seasoned ones, and seekers alike. I think the tricky part about this stems from the idea that as Christians, we tend to focus on how Jesus taught that deeds, by no means, can buy your soul a place in eternal glory. So that must mean that simple faith is the key that unlocks heaven’s gates? Well, what did Jesus say?
Faith vs. Works – Can’t I Just Believe?
- A giving up of the old. In Matthew 16:24-25 Jesus says that to follow Him, we must give up our old selves. I would argue that this requires an action, it requires physically, mentally, and spiritually letting go of a past life that brings no eternal value. Of course, no one would be crazy enough to do this unless they had a cause that they felt was worthy of their action, of their outright denial of self. Therefore, laying away the old self requires work, its hard, but it also needs faith to start in the first place.
- Faith without works is dead. In James 2:14-26, we are told that faith and deeds go hand in hand. They are directly correlated. The author says to show our faith without deeds, and he will show his faith with deeds. There is a interesting point to dwell on here. How can you show someone your faith without deeds? The simple task of “showing” requires an action in itself. If you have a strong faith, but no deeds, how can you prove it? The deeds are not what brings about the faith, but rather, the faith brings about the deeds. The yearning to satisfy God because of the sense of awe and wonderment you have for Him pushes you beyond your sinful, human self.
- Nothing we could do. In Ephesians 2:8-10, we are told that our works have given us nothing. Nothing we can do can put us any closer to God in eternal glory; we’re separated. Considering the tract record of humanity (Killing of innocent, genocide, racism, lust for money, power, etc.) we can only blame ourselves. The gift of God, His son taking all our sins so we could have a path to eternal glory, would not be a gift if it had to be earned. The Bible shows us that nothing can earn us the Gospel. It’s been freely given.
What does this mean for me?
If you are wondering what you may have to give up if you become a Christian, the answer is I don’t know. That isn’t for anyone to tell you. I simply want to make it clear that making the argument that someone’s life doesn’t need to change much after following Christ is wrong. Don’t fall into the American Christianity Scam. Hearts are changed, mindsets are changed, attitudes are changed, and lives are changed. It’s the simple faith that pushes us to follow Jesus with everything. Not just saying yes, but showing yes. How can you be obedient to Christ? What are you running from? What is the one thing you just can’t let go of to follow Christ?
We often focus on the little things. When sharing our faith, we tell someone that they have to give up drinking, partying, money, fun times, cussing, or insert anything else that you personally don’t like. But really, what is preventing you from pursing Christ at the most passionate, adventurous, and incredible level? What are the things that produce positive things in your life? Jesus calls us to obedience to Him, He doesn’t call us to anything else. It may take much prayer and meditation to know what is the most honoring way to be obedient to God.
Strong Faith, Go Share It
Maybe you’re reading this and understand the correlation between works and faith. That’s great! What are you doing about it? We rejoice with every life entering heaven’s gates, but there are billions, billions who need the gospel. Stop saying that your faith is good enough to get you into heaven. That is totally opposite of what the Bible tells us. You didn’t earn it, you don’t deserve it, but you heard it, and you believed it. God entrusted us with the spreading of His gospel. You cannot think that following Jesus entails only belief. Live it out, go share it; if you don’t, no one will.