Sunday, 20 October 2013


Do we have to work out our faith after we have been saved?

Mention working out our faith and immediately we think of something regressive—going back to enslavement by the law.

Oh no … it conjures in our minds the spiritual equivalent of having to work out in the gym to build bulging muscles and lean bodies.


Didn’t Jesus come that we might be saved by faith? Didn’t He come to release us from the arduous task of keeping the impossible demands of the law?

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

No right thinking believer disputes the fact that we are saved by faith. What is crucial is that which follows. What’s next? Genuine faith has to be evidenced by works: "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead" (James 2:26). Paul echoes this need for personal responsibility—to work out our faith with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). 

A world of difference exists between ‘work for’ and ‘work out’. Author J. Oswald Sanders draws an analogy between salvation and an estate. We do not have to feverishly work for an estate. We have already been given an estate. But we have to work it out—develop the estate’s hidden resources.

The following references show us why we need to ‘work out our salvation’:

Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8).

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
“For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26).

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things (please see above in bold), you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1: 5-7, 10-11).

So to recap, we are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). But we need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). 



It’s great to experience God’s unmerited favour. But we must not stop there. There are other ways to gain His favour.

Though we are saved by faith, we must not forget the fact we are destined for good works. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works.”

Some compare the Christian life to a walk in the park. They say everything is by faith. You just have to believe in what Jesus has done for you at the cross. Anything more than that smacks of self-effort, pride and legalism.

Is there eternal security for believers?

Are believers free from the law?

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