The Relation of Faith to Works

Matthew 8:23-27

"Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”  But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

What lessons can we learn from this passage?
“When Jesus was awakened to meet the storm, He was in perfect peace. There was no trace of fear in word or look, for no fear was in His heart. But He rested not in the possession of almighty power. It was not as the “Master of earth and sea and sky” that he reposed in quiet. That power He had laid down, and He says, “I can of Mine own self do nothing.” John 5:30. He trusted in the Father’s might. It was faith—faith in God’s love and care—that Jesus rested, and the power of that word which stilled the storm was the power of God” (The Desire of Ages, p. 336).
So, we see that the “work” of stilling the storm was by the faith of Jesus. This work sprung up and out of His faith in His Fathers power; His works are always the product of His faith.
Paul instructs us further in Galatians 5.6 teaching us that it is faith that works through love (agape). It is never faith + works, but always a faith that works by love.
The year following the 1888 General Conference, E. J. Waggoner wrote, “The great characteristic of faith is that it works. We do not mean that works are attached to it, but works come from it. “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26. Faith ‘works by love,’ says Paul. There may be that which is called faith, but if no works proceed from it, it is not faith.
“A just man is one who acts in harmony with the law of God. Therefore a just man is an obedient man. So we may understand ... that an obedient man shall live (a life of obedience) by his faith. The obedience springs from his faith, and therefore there is no chance for him to be lifted up, since the act of obedience is not his personal action, but is the action of his faith, and credited to him as his own. The man, whose soul is lifted up in him, is the man who thinks that he can of himself do all that is required, ... thus, ‘pride goeth before destruction’” (Signs of the Times, Feb. 4, 1889).
God has given to the world His only begotten Son (John 3:16) and His Son comes with His own faith. This is the faith that is given to us in Romans 12:3. He comes with His faith so that we may live the same just life that Jesus lived, for the just shall live by His faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17).
“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. ... For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:6, 9). When the creation week was over all God’s work was finished and He rested on the seventh day. Rest follows finished work. (Genesis 1 is the greatest faith chapter in the Bible! God spoke and it was! God never changes and is ever present, therefore His word has the same characteristics.)
The Father chose us in Christ from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3, 4), therefore when Christ went to the cross all mankind went with him. When Jesus died, we all died in Him (2 Cor. 5:14, 15). By this righteous act, Christ gave all men justification of life (Rom. 5:18). In the believing of this good news, the justification of life becomes justification by faith. Paul nails this truth for all to see: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith [of] the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
Hence by the faith of Jesus we are a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). We now walk in the Spirit and not after the flesh. Even though we still retain our flesh, the Spirit controls us and we are safe because God has condemned sin in our flesh that His entire law might be perfectly fulfilled in us by the faith of Jesus! (Rom. 8:3, 4).
We have not to worry about “helping” God to fulfill His promises in us. Our efforts to contribute to salvation are a boastful demonstration of unbelief. Our fingerprints need to be off of everything! “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). These works are the fruit of the Spirit—“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. ... If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5.22, 23, 25). This fruit grows naturally and is demonstrated evidence of the new creation.
The mystery of God, which was hidden from the ages and generations, is now made known among us: this mystery is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1.26, 27). Revelation 10:5-7 speaks of this present mystery: “ ... in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.” God will have a people ready before He comes again! Christ in you cleanses the sanctuary by the blotting out of sin and the reproduction of the character of Christ in His people. Seen at last are the saints who have the faith of Jesus that comes with His obedience to all the commandments of God. Like Jesus they can of themselves do nothing; like Him they rest in the love and care of the Father.
"It is finished" - the cross is the wonder of His work!   We, the object of His love and the perfection of His workmanship have been given His life to excercise His faith, in doing His works that He has prepared for us from the foundation of the world. (Eph. 2.10).  In accepting His finished works, we enter into His rest.

Today, if we will hear His voice, let us not harden our hearts like we are accustomed to doing, but let us believe and enter His rest.

—Daniel Peters