By Faith or by Works? That is the Question


To paraphrase Hamlet, let me posit:


By Faith or by Works?

That is the Question.


Whether ’tis nobler in the minds of men (and women) to believe unto salvation with no further effort toward any evidence of a changed heart to be perceived;

Or to take action in the service of a saving God, in His love;

And, thereby show that love to the unsaved of the world?

(Apologies to William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act III, Scene 1)


This has been a question for millennia.

Believers from the time of the resurrection unto today have written, discussed, argued, and somewhat ‘agreed to disagree’ on this topic. And its apparent contradiction.


It’s a question of:


How do we acquire salvation, righteousness?


Now, the definition of salvation I’ll leave for another time.

But let us assume that it’s a condition greatly to be desired by all who would be a Christian.


So, what, then, is required for salvation?

Faith or Works?


I suppose it all depends on

  • What is Faith?
  • What is Works?


What Is Faith?

3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.                                                            Romans 12:3 NAS


Faith as Belief that is merely Mental Assent


In English, faith is primarily understood as mental assent, agreement, especially in a ‘belief system,’ such as religion. Accepting Jesus is often seen as a personal ‘step of Faith.’

faith: n. belief


Belief is defined in terms of Faith, particularly as something that is accepted as true.

belief: n. confidence; faith; trust


However, Christian Faith cannot be mere mental or intellectual agreement or choice.

Even the demons believe in God.

19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.                                                 James 2:10 NAS


Faith as Belief which includes Action


Biblical Faith is more than mere mental agreement.


In Greek, Faith is more than just intellectual agreement.

In Greek, Faith includes response, action.

In Greek, Faith includes Trust and Obedience.


pístis4102 : Greek – faith, belief, obedience, trust

Faith (pístis4102) is always gift from God, and never something that can be produced by people. In short, pístis4102 (“faith”) for the believer is “God’s divine persuasion” – and therefore distinct from human belief (confidence), yet involving it.

pisteúō4100 : Greek – believe, affirm

pisteúō4100 (from pístis4102, “faith,” derived from peíthō3982, “persuade, be persuaded”) – believe (affirm, have confidence); used of persuading oneself (= human believing) and with the sacred significance of being persuaded by the Lord (= faith-believing). Only the context indicates whether pisteúō4100 (“believe”) is self-serving (without sacred meaning), or the believing that leads to/proceeds from God’s inbirthing of faith.


Thus, the essence, integral meaning of Biblical Faith includes both

Inward belief: Acceptance,


Outward works: Action.


As Dr. Marcellino DAmbrosio writes:

Biblical faith is not just belief.  It is surrender.  It is a complete entrusting of oneself to God in Christ and acceptance of his power, his will, and his plan.

Faith vs. Works? Paul, the Pharisee, & the Alabaster Jar


What are Works?


Christianity Today reports:

Good works in biblical thought are those works that proceed from evangelical faith and are done for the glory of God. The unregenerate may do works of benefaction that in the eyes of the world merit the term “good,” but they fall short of the divine approval.

Works are the actions, behaviors, activities, deeds, etc. of humans as they live out their life.

Works by Christians may be out of love and obedience; but they may also be to show a good face to the world.

Works by non-Christians may be done for many reasons; none of which are in obedience to God, and for His glory.



What does the Bible say about Faith and Works?


I’ll write about that …

… next time.






It’s ok to doubt, if you check it out!

Be a Berean!

 10The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.                   Acts 17:10, 11 ESV

Please join me in this journey of discovery.

  • Leave a comment, or ask me a question.
  • Share this blog with others, whether they are doubting, or not.
  • Take what I say and CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELF!


© 2017 by the author