Faith, Deeds, and Salvation
Daily Bible Reading – 1 Samuel 23; Psalms 31,54; Matthew 7
Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 7:13-27
Have you ever been confused by parts of the Bible? Have you ever found apparent contradictions in God’s Word that led to questions in your mind? For many years, I struggled with the relationship between faith, deeds, and salvation. I would read Ephesians 2:8-9 which says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast”, and I would think – OK, I get it, we are saved by faith alone and not by works. Then I would read James 2:24 which says, “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone”, and I would be confused. Does this mean I am not saved by faith alone? Do I need to do good deeds to be saved? I firmly believe that this seeming paradox (in my mind anyway) between faith and deeds kept me from surrendering my life to Jesus Christ for a long time. I simply could not wrap my mind around what was correct, so I gave up. Fortunately, I was able to work this out and understand how these three concepts intertwine with the help of solid doctrine and a good church, but I still wonder how many others are confused by these concepts. As I read today’s key passage, God clearly spoke to my heart that the answers to this type of confusion can be found here in the words of Jesus Christ himself. I had one of those “light bulb” moments when God just seems to show me exactly what is in His heart. If you have ever been confused by the relationship between faith, deeds, and salvation, read on as I try to express what God has shown me today.
Our key passage today begins with Jesus talking about the way to Heaven. He says, “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.” (Vss. 13-14) Many people believe there are many roads that lead to salvation. They believe that if they do good deeds, they will be saved. They believe that if they have religion or go to church, they will be saved. Jesus makes it clear in this passage that there is only one narrow road that leads to eternal life. In John 14:6, he explains what that narrow gate is when He says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He IS the narrow gate. Not everyone will find Him, but those who do will enter that narrow gate and be saved.
Next, Jesus talks about fruit in people’s lives. He says, “Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Vss. 17-20) Here, Jesus is talking about deeds. Just as a good tree will bear good fruit, a person with faith in Jesus Christ will do good deeds. If you want to know if someone has faith or not, all you have to do is look for their “fruit”. When you have true faith, you have Jesus living inside you, and He will produce good deeds through you.
Now, stay with me because this is where Jesus ties all of this together for us. He says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Vss. 21-23) The people who Jesus never knew are the people who did good deeds but had no true faith. They did many things (prophesy, driving out demons, miracles, etc.), but they did not have faith so they were turned away on “that day”. The people who enter through the narrow gate are the ones who had true faith. Their faith produced good deeds in their lives because that is the good fruit that comes from a good tree. These people are recognized by Jesus because they did the will of God.
What it all comes down to is this – people can do good deeds and not have faith, but people cannot have faith without doing good deeds. Good deeds alone cannot produce salvation. Faith in Jesus Christ alone produces salvation and that faith will be illustrated by our good deeds because they are our “fruit”. If you have been struggling to understand how faith and deeds align with salvation, my prayer today is that you will hear God speaking to you through today’s key passage. Read it and meditate on it. Absorb it into your heart. I pray that you will be changed by it forever, and I hope to see you as we walk through the narrow gate together.
During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you? Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.
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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.
Posted on April 20, 2014, in 01 - Matthew and tagged Bible, Christian, Daily Bible, Daily Devotional, Evangelism, Faith, God, Godly Living, Grace, Jesus, Religion, Service. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.