Good works are indispensable to justification. James explains. “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. 27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:23-27).
Good works do not contribute to justification, the work of Jesus is sufficient. However, good works must be present if a person is justified, for the faith that saves, is always accompanied by good works.
Good works are essential to sanctification, which naturally follows justification. “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?” (James 2:14). The answer is, “No, that type of faith cannot saved him.” Why? Because “faith, if it hath no works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17).
Many people say they have faith. They say they are born again. They say they have been justified. However, there is no immediate supportive proof. When a person is truly born of God they immediately begin to perform good works. When Zacchaeus was converted, the Bible says that he immediately said unto the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold” (Luke 19:8).
That is the impact on culture the gospel has. When a person is born again, when a person is justified in the sight of God, they think differently, they feel differently, and they act differently. Because this is true, there should be great concern why the Evangelical Church, with all of its books, seminars, lectures, videos, movies, schools, and worship services does not have more of an impact on modern society. The Church has lost the cultural war on homosexuality, abortion, drug addiction, and the breakup of the family.
When the question is asked why the Church has lost the cultural war in society, part of the answer is not difficult to discern. The Church has failed to perform the practical good works of the gospel. There is little pity for the sick, and less passion for soul winning efforts. There are few tears for the unconverted, and no time for personal devotions with the Lord. Life is too busy. From dawn to dusk, life moves at a fast pace so the Bible collects dust, and waits to be picked up on the way to a religious service on Sunday, maybe.
Charles Spurgeon once asked his congregation, “Is there dust on your Bible?” “There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write ‘damnation’ with your fingers.”
The dust gathers on Bibles because of the Heresy of Quietism. This is a theological way of acknowledging that many people in Christendom have been taught that salvation, and justification by faith alone, brings to an end good works.
Quietism teaches that the working out of a person’s salvation is simply, and strictly the work of God.
A radical division is made between works and grace, as if there was no grace under the Law, and no works under the reign of Grace. A person does not have to labor. A person does not have to worry. A person does not have to achieve any level of maturity, holiness, or sanctification. A person does not have to strive. A person can even disregard those texts that teach only those who “endure to the end shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13). Quietism teaches that a person can rest completely in the finished work of Christ. After salvation, the Christian can just “let go and let God” have His way in one’s life.
This is a good and true Biblical teaching. However, if a person begins to have no sense of urgency to mortify the flesh, then the understanding of God’s Word must be reconsidered.
The Scripture teaches something nuanced and important. The work of Christ secured salvation, while good works secure our standing in Christ. Though Abraham was justified by faith, apart from the works of the law, it was because he obeyed God that the covenant blessings came to him. Abraham, “in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Gen. 22:18).
A central teaching of Quietism, is that the will of self is negated, and the will of God takes its place. If this teaching is allowed to stand, it could lead adherents to believe that the Christian life is a life of complete passivity. That would be an unbiblical conclusion. The Bible commands Christians to examine themselves “whether ye be in the faith, prove your own selves” (2 Cor. 13:5). “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). The believer is to ““Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). The child of God must “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).
As attractive as certain aspects of Quietism may be, the Christian life must not be reduced to a life of passivity. God has many expectations of His children as He works in and through them to accomplish His good will. Paul said, “I also labor, striving according to his working, who works in me mightily” (Col. 1:29).
Not only does God have high expectations of His children, but Christians should have high expectations of one another. Writing to the Galatians, the apostle said, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” (Gal. 4:19).
There is no place for perpetual infancy in Christianity. There is no justification for ignorance. There is no reason for failure to grow in grace and knowledge, and reach spiritual maturity.