Works. What we do for God; the special choices we make in His name. The Bible has a lot to say about a person’'s works. Careful reading will uncover the fact that the Bible speaks of works in two very different ways.
The Works of the Law
First there is working to be reconciled to God, or what the Bible calls the works of the law.
"…the works of the Law…" Romans 3:28
This first kind of works, the works of the law, is negative. Nowhere in the Bible is the concept that one should struggle and strive (or for that matter to be merely diligent and devoted so as) to be accepted by God. On the contrary, the Bible repeatedly speaks against this idea.
"…by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified…" Romans 3:20
"…[salvation is] the gift of God, not as a result of works…" Ephesians 2:8-9
"…you who are seeking to be justified by law, you have fallen from grace." Galatians 5:4
So strongly is the idea of works for salvation opposed in the Bible, it is one of the many marvels of religion (i.e. relationships with God that depend on the person) that so many continue to attempt it. You may remember the story of Cain and Abel? The Bible gives the account of two brothers who each was required to offer a sacrifice. Abel presented the slain animal, in keeping with the God-given declaration that we deserve death. Cain on the other hand offered his crops, symbolizing his best attempts, his skill, ability and hard work, and pointedly ignoring the death sentance.
"…for Cain and his offering [God] had no regard…" Genesis 4:5
"...selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth..." Romans 2:8
"…those who did not believe…[who] revile the things they don’t understand…the way of Cain…" Jude 5-11
The Works of Faith
So we see that one kind of works is to be avoided, and is even categorized as disbelief and disobedience. There is however a kind of works the Bible encourages, and even demands. This is called the works of faith.
"…through faith…we are…created in Christ Jesus for good works…" Ephesians 2:8-10
"…work out your salvation…" Philippians 2:12
In actuality, the Bible flips the religious person’s notion of working to enter heaven on its head. Rather than a means of salvation, the Bible’s idea of works is merely the evidence, the outcome, of salvation.
"…the works I do in my father’s name, these bear witness of Me." John 10:25
"…I will show you my faith by my works." James 2:18
"…deeds appropriate to repentance." Acts 26:20
The Bible is clear that instead of works being a way to God, works are in reality the natural outcome of already, through faith, having that relationship with Him.
"…faith, if it has no works, is dead…" James 2:17
"…if a man says he has faith, but he has no works, can that faith save him?" James 2:14
Unlike the works of the law, the works of faith are not something we drum up on our own. It is simply the evidence that God is at work in us, and is free to express Himself in our actions.
"…it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work…" Philippians 2:13
"…working in us that which is pleasing in His sight…" Hebrews 13:21
"You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16
Religious person, which kind of works are you practicing? Are you by your works striving to become acceptable to God? Keeping the ten commandments? Refraining from drinking and smoking? Things like that, confident that this will get you into heaven? Or are you, true to the Biblical pattern, working out a salvation you already have in Jesus Christ through faith in His finished work, not your own? Come to Jesus today, just as you are.