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"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." Romans 3:28
Salvation, or justification, is a legal declaration of innocence. We are justified and declared just when we accept Christ. In God's eyes we all have sinned and are guilty of crimes worthy of death. Therefore, to be justified by Christ means that the Lord declares us to be forgiven of our sins committed against Him (Romans 6:23).
In Luke 18:9-14 Jesus illustrates salvation or justification by faith: the proud Pharisee believed his good deeds will justify him – the publican however, having no good deeds, humbled himself and was justified by his faith. Jesus, talking about the publican, concluded the parable this way: “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other” Luke 18:14. Justification is not dependent on works.
And if we keep on reading, eventually we arrive at book of James, who appear to muddy the issue of faith and works: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?” James 2:21. However, one verse over, James makes things very clear: “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect” James 2:22. James uses for ‘perfect’ the Greek word ‘teleios’ which means ‘full grown’ or ‘mature.’ Faith, then, works together with works. Thus Abraham’s works by faith gave evidence to his faith. In other words, his works proved he was justified!
The same principle is being taught by Jesus in Matthew 7:16-21. We know when someone is saved by their fruits (works). We do not expect bad fruits from a good tree, just as we don't expect bad deeds from a saved Christian. Yes, even a good tree can occasionally produce a less than perfect (mature) fruit, but that should be an anomaly, a rare exception rather than the rule. Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 was expressing his disappointment in the lack of maturity he was observing in the Church at that time.
In John 6:28, Christ was asked what works should one do for God. "Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." John 6:29. Apparently, believing is work and takes effort.
Faith is not work. All we have to do to be saved is believe. John 3:16 All we have to do is believe that all of our sin was paid for by the blood of Jesus when He went to the cross. When we believe it we are given eternal life and can no longer be lost. John 6:37-40. John 3:36 John 6:29 First John 5:13 John 3:18 says that all those that believe can no longer be condemned, but those that do not believe are condemned already.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says we are saved by grace, through faith, without works, so no one can boast and say I saved myself.
Brother Kraft, the Bible is very clear about works and faith - please read below:
"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?
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; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” and he was called a friend of God.
You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead (James 2:14-26).