Here are a few notes/thoughts I’ve compiled the last few weeks that have helped me understand the relationship between faith and works.
Faith IS obedience.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is a gift from god. Not by works so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Works don’t save you. But a work is done in you at salvation and works follow afterwards that show you are really saved. (Such as obedience, faithfulness, love, commitment, etc.) fruits of the spirit.
Faith alone saves you, but the faith that saves is never alone.
“May I suggest to you that James and Paul are not standing face to face in a confrontation but they’re standing back to back fighting two common enemies. Paul is fighting those people who want salvation to be by works. James is fighting those people who want a salvation that doesn’t demand anything. Paul is saying salvation is only by grace. James is saying that salvation only by grace produces works. There’s no debate here.” MacArthur
Works are the fruit, not the root, of faith.
“But, to be clear, the lordship controversy is not a dispute about whether salvation is by faith only or by faith plus works. No true Christian would ever suggest that works need to be added to faith in order to secure salvation. No one who properly interprets Scripture would ever propose that human effort or fleshly works can be meritorious —worthy of honor or reward from God.?
The lordship controversy is a disagreement over the nature of true faith. Those who want to eliminate Christ’s lordship from the gospel see faith as simple trust in a set of truths about Christ. Faith, as they describe it, is merely a personal appropriation of the promise of eternal life.
But Scripture describes faith as more than that—it is a wholehearted trust in Christ personally (e.g., Galatians 2:16; Philippians 3:9). Not merely faith about Him; faith in Him. Note the difference: If I say I believe some promise you have made, I am saying far less than if I say I trust you. Believing in a person necessarily involves some degree of commitment. Trusting Christ means placing oneself in His custody for both life and death. It means we rely on His counsel, trust in His goodness, and entrust ourselves for time and eternity to His guardianship. Real faith, saving faith, is all of me (mind, emotions, and will) embracing all of Him (Savior, Advocate, Provider, Sustainer, Counselor, and Lord God).” MacArthur
My fullest understanding or definition of salvation is this: we confess and turn away from our sins in repentance, and turn to Jesus in faith. We are forgiven and Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us (we are justified) and saved. As a new creation in Christ we are called to bear fruit- to follow Him, obey Him, and make Him Lord of our life. This fruit is a good indication that we are truly saved.