Why Do Good Works Get Such a Bad Rap?
By Russell Frazier
THE ARMINIAN MAGAZINE. Issue 1. Spring 2011. Volume 29.
Date Posted July, 2011

Several years ago, I heard a radio preacher say, "Live like you want to live; do what you want to do – just send more money!" More and more these days, I hear a lot of emphasis on grace. I am grateful for the message of grace. Without the grace of God, none of us could be saved. Certainly, believers do not paddle their own canoe. However what concerns me is an overemphasis on grace. Many, like the radio preacher, believe that it doesn't matter how one lives – that the quality of a believer's life makes little or no difference. I disagree: the quality of our lives does make a difference! Christians don't live like the devil (1 John 3:8). The grace of God does not serve as a shield against a rebellious attitude. Paul points this out rather clearly in his response to the question: "Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?" His response is: "Certainly not!" (Romans 6:15).

The Scriptures are clear: believers must live holy lives. In order to preserve the biblical call to holiness, we need an appropriate emphasis on both the role of faith and the role of good works in salvation. Sincere obedience is inseparable from true faith. As Saint James says, "faith without works is dead" (James 2:17, 20).

You may ask, "Which is more necessary to salvation: faith or good works?" I respond with a question: "Which is more important to breathing: inhaling or exhaling?" If the lungs are not emptied of air through expiration, can one inhale more air? If one does not inhale air, can one exhale? So it is in the Christian life. Both faith and good works are equally necessary to the believer's life. "If humble faith receives the breath of spiritual life, obedient love gratefully returns it and makes way for a fresh supply..." (John Fletcher).

The above illustration about inhaling and exhaling helps me to understand the role of faith and good works in the Christian life. As we receive the grace of God through humble faith, we must "give away" our faith to others. We cannot be mere recipients of the grace of God; we must also be share grace with others.

So, how are you doing on this score? Do you share your faith with others? Are you an example to others? Do your co-workers know that you are a believer? Do you give food to the hungry? Do you give something to drink to the thirsty? Do you welcome strangers? Do you clothe the naked? Do you visit the sick and imprisoned? If so, Jesus promises that you will hear the words, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40).