Are Christians saved by faith OR good works or by faith AND good works?

Here are the options for responding to God's gift of salvation:

1. We are saved by faith alone. Neglect of works does not impair our relationship with God.

2. We are saved by works alone. Neglect of faith does not impair our relationship with God.

3. We are saved by faith and good works. Neglect of either faith or works can erode or destroy our relationship with God.

40 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer


    The Catholic Church does not teach that we earn our salvation by our own efforts, although it does teach that we have to work on our salvation.

    "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12).

    We can do nothing to merit the grace that comes to us in baptism, which is the normal beginning of the Christian life.

    Justification comes by faith. Only it says that it doesn’t come through faith alone. If you look carefully at Paul’s writings, you will notice that he never says that our righteousness comes from faith alone—only that it comes from faith apart from works.

    Romans 3:28 is a key verse in the differences between traditional Protestants and Catholics. Paul says a man is justified by faith (pistei in Greek). When Martin Luther translated the letter to the Romans into German in the sixteenth century, he added the word alone —but alone is not in the original Greek text. The phrase "faith alone" does occur in the New Testament: one time, in James 2:24. There the inspired apostle denies that justification is from faith alone.

    "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone."

    Sometimes Paul expands his phrase from works by adding the phrase of the law, as in Romans 3:20 and 28 and Galatians 2:16.

    Sometimes Paul substitutes the phrase through the law to describe the same reality. In Romans 3:20, he says, "Through the law comes knowledge of sin." When Paul uses the word works he is talking about the Old Testament law.

    Galatians will show that Paul is using works of the law to refer especially to the law of circumcision. He says in Galatians 5:2, "Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you." Paul’s opponents in Galatia wanted to bring the Gentile Christians back into the Old Testament law.

    These are the works of the law that Paul is fighting against, and they have no place in our justification.

    Paul is saying in essence that Gentile Christians do not have to be circumcised and live like Jewish Christians in order to be saved.

    Paul speaks about Christians fulfilling the law by following the command to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Gal. 5:14). He then explains that we must show the "fruit of the Spirit" (Gal 5:16–26) and bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:1ff) as a way of fulfilling the "law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2). All Paul’s teaching comes down to this: Our own works can never justify us, but works that grow out of faith in Christ are part of our justification. That’s why Paul says in Philippians 2:12 you must "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." And that squares with James’s teaching that works that grow from faith justify.

    Works actually justify.

    James did not say explicitly, "You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works" (Jas. 2:22). And then in verse 24 James concludes again, "A man is justified by works and not by faith alone."

    Salvation is a process of becoming holier and holier through time. All of this is a work of grace that God performs in our hearts through faith. Works done in faith are the natural completion of believing in Christ. As we trust and do God’s work, he instills within us more grace so that we may become holier.

  • 10 years ago

    How about:

    4. We are saved by faith alone, but neglect of works does impair our relationship with God.

    Salvation is through faith that Jesus Christ - God in the flesh - died in our stead. While salvation is through faith alone, our works DO matter. Our relationship with God is a two-way street. We shouldn't just get saved then sit back and do nothing. We should draw closer to God. We should to pray to Him, praise Him, trust Him, and depend on Him. We should witness to non-believers and share the Gospel, and live wholesome lives, setting an example for others. We should strive to be Christ-like.

    These things aren't necessary for salvation, but our relationship with God will suffer if we don't do them. AND we WILL be judged by our works. Some of us who have served God particularly well will reign alongside Jesus. Others will have responsibilities a couple of rungs down the ladder in God's Government.

  • 4 years ago

    You missed the whole point of the passage you quoted. What James was simply saying is that if someone says they have faith and has no works that he is not saved. Salvation comes through faith and faith bears fruit. That fruit is good works. One who has faith will by his very nature produce good works if he has faith because he is a new creature. Anyone professing to have faith and no good works bears no fruit and he is dead spiritually and a liar.

  • 10 years ago

    Salvation from the lake of fire come from faith alone:

    Romans 10:9-10 – that if thou mayest confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and mayest believe in thy heart that God did raise him out of the dead, thou shalt be saved, for with the heart doth [one] believe to righteousness, and with the mouth is confession made to salvation (YLT)

    Neither options 1, 2, or 3 are correct because you don't understand the full picture. A good analogy of this is a husband and a wife. Salvation is similar to getting married without the possibility of divorce. If you love your wife, you will want to do make her happy, buy her presents, stay faithful to her, honor her, nurture her, and protect her. These things are similar to works. Now if you married her without loving her, it was never a real marriage in the first place. So being saved means that you love God and have the intention of giving 100% of yourself to Him. The difference between marriage and salvation is that God CANNOT be tricked. He knows your heart and deepest desires. You can say the words, but if you don't believe them, God won't believe you. For more on Christianity see my website on the link. God bless.

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  • Robert
    Lv 4
    10 years ago

    Hi Bruce,

    Was Jesus a man of faith? Did he do good works? What did he say about works?

    John 5:36 says," But I have a greater witness than that of John(the baptist): for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me." You should also study John 10:25-38.

    Ephesians 2:8-10 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9) Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them."

    The good, or, Godly works then, should be seen as a witness, or evidence that the Lord is with us, and doing things through us. As James said, faith without works is dead. We are saved by faith in Jesus and works should be the evidence that we have been saved.

    I hope this helps to clear this up for you.

    Sincerely, Robert

  • 10 years ago

    Faith and good works go hand in hand in God's plan. I would immediately choose option #3. Anyone who has studied the Bible knows that Faith in God comes first, and the works are a result of that Faith as the Spirit begins to work.

    The good works that result from our authentic relationship with God foster the desire to do works, and is generally not something of our own choosing. As a child of God, we begin to see things in a different light, and the selfish motives melt away. As we become more and more like Jesus, which is the goal, we begin to think more and more as Jesus thought. In fact, we begin to think in a different dimension, elevated above the baser thoughts we have as just mere humans.

    God's plan is an awesome thing to behold, and the result, if we were to allow it, would be a world and life that could parallel that which was found in the Garden before the fall. Would that we could. Be well.

  • 10 years ago

    We are saved by grace alone which comes through faith, hope and love

    Faith alone, or belief isolated from life, cannot save

    Neglect of faith and its works can erode or destroy our relationship with God

    We cannot be saved if we stay in unrepented mortal sin

  • 10 years ago

    I would go with option number 3 for if we do not have true faith in Christ then we are not obligated to uphold the commandments of GOD and help those less fortunate then we are for having heard the message of GRACE and forgiveness of GOD.

    I dare say one can be saved by faith alone but for what purpose if not to spread that word by good works?

  • 10 years ago

    After all, you have a resounding #3 as the answer.

    Consider this:

    Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing in the presence of the throne, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged by those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

    Rev 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and hell gave up their dead that were in them; and they were judged every one according to their works.

    Comment: At the end, if "works" is the basis of judgment in Rev 20, then we have to focus on free grace of God = faith+work as the answer to all of this. Jesus is always asking for charity work: did you fed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick.... etc.

    Source(s): Rev 20
  • 10 years ago

    Faith alone cannot keep you connected to the vine, an inactive and unproductive branch will be cut off and burned. He knows our abilities and our limitations but we need to make that choice to be fruitful.

    Matthew 15:1-8 Jesus Christ is the Vine, the true Vine. The union of the human and Divine natures, and the fullness of the Spirit that is in him, resemble the root of the vine made fruitful by the moisture from a rich soil. Believers are branches of this Vine. The fire is the fittest place for withered branches; they are good for nothing else.

  • 10 years ago

    I think that I answered similar questions about this concerning faith various times.

    Faith alone without good deeds is not a full faith. Good faith is showed by good deeds.

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