First thing I want to say is that I do not agree with faith-plus. That is a horrible heretical doctrine that takes salvation away from God and makes it something we can do. We cannot save ourselves, praise to the Lamb who has shed His blood for us!
Now, the first thing I’d like you to know is the importance of works and that there are two different kinds of works. Works are important in that they show where your heart is. They are evidence of your faith and they’re important for everything you can possibly do for Christ. Works also show who/what your master is. A man’s works can either be based on faith, or based on sin. Paul states this, “for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Romans 14:23. Let’s look at the difference between the two.
Sin-based works are of course sin. They may be murders, thefts, and adulteries or they may be giving to the poor, going to church, reading the Bible, and praying. Understand that the works themselves may not be sins, but in God’s eyes they are. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:6 Paul talks about this kind of works in nearly every letter. Take Romans 3 for example. He is explaining to Jewish Romans that you cannot be saved by obedience to the law or any other means. “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:28. In his letter to the Ephesians he says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” 2:8-10. This is another place where he says that you cannot get into heaven by works. He says, in short, we are saved by grace through faith, not by works, but for works.
Faith-based works are done by faith and are also essentially the very same as faith. In James 2:17, James says, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” He says just a few verses later, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only,” verse 24. If we look throughout Jesus’ teachings and Paul’s teachings, this same message is repeated over and over again. Romans 10:9-10, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13. Jesus talks about believing in Him as well as repenting, following and obeying Him. For instance, Matthew 4:17 says, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He also said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” and “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life,” in John 3:3, 15. Throughout His ministry He told His disciples as well as others to follow Him. Here is one instance from Matthew 8:21-23, “And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead. And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.” He taught that in order for this to work it had to be mutual. It couldn’t just be the Father drawing us to Him, but we have to act on our free will. All of these, believe, obey, follow, repent, trust, are all considered faith.
Works are also evidence of faith, as stated above, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” These good works are evidence of our faith. Jesus says basically the same thing, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.” John 15:16. James 2:18 says, “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” “[We] are the salt of the earth,” and “[We] are the light of the world.” Matthew 5:13, 14. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16.
Works are very important in our relationship with God, despite what men have taught you. First of all, the main purpose of saving us was reconciliation to Him. He can get everything we can do done without us. There are a lot of relations between Us. “Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;” 1 Timothy 6:15 “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31 “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Galatians 4:6 “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,” Hebrews 12:23 “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” John 15:14 In order to serve a king, lord, potentate, prince, we must obey. Jesus says that we are His friends if we obey Him. The point throughout the entire Bible, Old and New Testaments, is that we cannot walk hand-in-hand with both God and sin. It is impossible and God wants us to know this.
The last thing I want to point out is the relationship between grace, faith, and works. Each of these has an inseparable bond between them and is completely distinguishable from each other. Grace and faith are obvious as they are still around in the teachings today. Grace is an unmerited favor. It is getting what we don’t deserve. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1. Works are something that is done. You cannot have faith without grace. “For by grace are ye saved through faith…” Ephesians 2:8. You cannot have works without faith. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:6. You cannot have faith without works. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” James 2:17. Scripture says this about the three. Separate one from the other, or overemphasize one or another and you get a mess, for that you can look at the Church in America or the Roman Catholic Church.
Let’s consider this for a moment. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6. Jesus is one with the Father and with the Holy Spirit. You cannot separate one from the other and each of them can be distinguished from the other. Jesus is the Way. That is, He is salvation. He is grace, faith, and works. There are many parallels between the Godhead and this. Please, take the time to think about this and study it for yourself.
In conclusion, we see a few things. First we see there are two different works, faith-based works and sin-based works. Next, we see that works are not only evidence of salvation, but is essentially the same as faith. Finally, we see that the relationship of grace, faith, and works is very similar to the Triune God, they are inseparable and completely necessary, but at the same time three completely different things.
**NOTE** For further study, do a topical study of the justification process, what we are and aren’t justified by, and the contexts, as well as the meaning behind each of them. Study the teachings of Jesus and how it pertains to salvation. Find patterns and parallels between the different passages.
Remember this, the salvation of Old Testament Saints, New Testament Saints, Tribulation Saints, Church Saints, Jews, Gentiles, Pagans, Saints, Apostles, Prophets, etc. is the same. Don’t let anyone tell you that there were different means or anything between any of them. The only difference between any of them, is the Holy Spirit did NOT indwell men until Jesus ascended to the Father.