Faith and Works

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Romans 4:1-12; Proverbs 14:1-2

READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Romans 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

Romans 4:3 talks about how Abraham was counted as righteous, not for the works he had done, but for his faith in a God who can do the impossible. Romans 4:3 makes reference to Genesis 15:6, where Abraham expressed his belief in God, who promised that the Patriarch will have many offspring like the stars in heaven. The Bible is consistent with the truth that we cannot gain righteousness with God with anything we do with our flesh; but only through faith. Both in the Old Testament as well as the New.

Does this mean that those who “have faith” can ignore “works” since faith alone counts towards righteousness with God? While we cannot earn God’s righteousness or pleasure with the works of our flesh; works as an expression of our belief (faith) is no less important. This is because genuine faith produces good work that are pleasing to the Lord. Titus 3:8 says this clearly: “The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”

So being counted as righteous in faith does not mean that we can take a spiritual holiday. In God, there is simply no such thing. That was why the Apostle James commented that faith without works is dead. Why? Because genuine faith produces or we can even say enthuse good work in God. Notice, that even as Abraham was counted as righteous for his faith; his journey with God did not end there. In fact it was just the beginning as seen in the circumcision of his household in Genesis 17 as well as the pleading with God for the sparing of the righteous in Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18.

Elyse, our daughter requested to wall climb on her birthday. Hence, we bought a day pass so she could climb to her heart’s content. For her first climb of the day, she climbed to the top but was fearful of getting down. Getting down involves a simple letting yourself to free fall while being strapped to a roping system. Only after much encouragement (with the help of Justin who happened to be there) did Elyse find faith in the roping system (not really sure if God is involved in her “contemplation”) and did a free fall. After this first act of faith, she became quite another person. As the day came to an end (thank God!), she did like 15-16 climbs and had no problem with free falling. What propel her to be so courageous? Because she had faith in the roping system, tested it, found that it worked and went on to do more.

Our faith in God works in somewhat the same way. We do not just believe in our heads that Jesus had died for our sins and we are now set free to glorify God; but our faith, if genuine, should propel us to act upon the faith we have. As we act more upon and through faith; we discover that we can really depend on God to do His marvellous deeds for the sake of His glory. In other words, faith and works are not separate entities; but that works should be an expression of faith that is true and sincere toward Christ who first loves us. Question is, how have we been expressing our faith lately toward God and to the people around us?

Lord our God, help us to ponder upon on how we might have chose to disregard the expression of good works in our lives due to faith. Give us the courage and strength to do and to be the Gospel; of which is the power of God to save. Amen.