A few years ago I taught Naomi’s 5th and 6th grade Bible class how to chain reference their Bibles to give Bible studies. Naomi loved the Bible study on salvation so much, she immediately shared that Bible study with her family that evening. Naomi did not have an idle faith. She had a faith that worked, and it worked by love.
You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. James 2:24 NKJV
Are we saved by our faith or by our works?
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:6 NKJV
We are not saved by works but by a faith that does work. This faith does not work by a hope of reward or fear of punishment. This faith works by love.
In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus gives us an illustration of the judgment. Notice what Jesus tells those who are saved.
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me. Matthew 25:34-36 NKJV
Jesus does not tell those who are saved, “You only believed, come on in.” Remember James tells us even the demons believe and tremble. Jesus is telling those who are saved to enter His kingdom because they had works of love that came from a faith, but it was not an idle faith. They have a faith that works by love. Their works of love and compassion are the evidence and fruit of their faith.
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus 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 without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. James 2:14-18 NKJV
In the illustration of the judgment in Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus does not condone an idle faith. He condones a faith that works. Also notice He does not condone the righteous based on what they believed. He condones their behavior. They are judged by how they treated others and not on their profession and beliefs. Remember the Good Samaritan may have had his theology all muddled but he had a loving heart. Also the Good Samaritan was living up to the light that he had. A few years ago someone told me it did not matter if they kept the Sabbath or not because they helped the poor. They thought my church was being legalistic by keeping the Sabbath, but this person was being just as legalistic by helping the poor, because they were doing it with an attitude of keeping score and comparing themselves to my church instead of doing it out of love. Remember it’s a faith that works by love and not a hope of reward or fear of punishment, and certainly not working to compare ourselves with others.
We are not saved by an idle faith. We are not saved by idle beliefs. We also are not saved by works that produce faith. We are saved by a faith that produces works of love and obeys the commandments out of love.
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. ….Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:12,14.
We are saved by grace, through faith. In the judgment our works are the evidence of that grace and faith that saves us. In the judgment in Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus does not separate the sheep from the goats based on what they believed. He separates them based on how they treated others. The saved will have a faith that works by love.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.