Faith vs. Works


By Jason Owens


Growing up, I remember hearing the passage “for by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). These words imprinted on my mind, and they grew in impact as I reflected on the age-old debate:  faith vs. works. I listened as Christian leaders pondered, “if faith saves you, does it matter what you do?” While others replied, “well, what you do is clearly important.” The debate went in circles as they sipped their coffee. Interestingly, not once did Ephesians 2:10 enter the conversation.  Here Paul writes “for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Wow. If you are anything like me, this realization might bring about questions. What do you mean Paul? We are saved by grace through faith, to do works??

The problem lies in our either-or mentality. In fear of losing the significance of grace, we’ve pushed back against the call to work. Maybe we’ve missed the heart of the message entirely. Yes, we are saved by grace and unable to boast of our salvation. However, we cannot simply sit on this grace and call the job done. Just like God works, we are called and commissioned to work – because of the very grace that saves us. The song writer Rich Mullins articulated this in his song Screen Door, singing these words – “faith without works is like a song you can’t sing, it’s about as useless as a screen door on a submarine.” As I look around at our neighbors, city, country and world I think it is time we take the grace God has so lavished on us and spill it out through doing the works God has called us to do.

Do not think the call to do good works must involve ending world hunger, or ushering in world peace. If you do these, fantastic, but our primary call is to do what Jesus did – walk everyday living so full of God’s grace that we simply do the next right thing. Can you imagine what the world would look like if we woke up daily, determined to love God and neighbor as best we can by doing the next right thing?

“The single raindrop never feels responsible for the flood but, the flood is a culmination of raindrops.”

Now listen.



That’s you and I changing the world – together.