The theological basis for Christian service
One of the clearest teachings about Christian service is found in the book of James 2:14-20 (NLT):
14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. 18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God.Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
The message is clear: faith without works is dead. There is only one kind of saving faith – the one that bears the fruit of good works.
Paul summed it up in his letter to the Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT):
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
The theological tweet goes something like this: you are saved by grace for good works.
We cannot have true faith without corresponding good works.
God does not love us because we are good; we are good because God loves us.
Faith without works is bribery.
Works without faith is slavery.
Faith with works is Christianity.