Helping Your Students Balance Faith And Works

Faith and works go hand and hand. You can’t have one with out the other.

Danger is often found in the extremes. Whenever we veer to far one way or the other we usually find ourselves in error. 

James tells us in James 2:17 that “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” 

Faith and works are a delicate balance in the Christian walk. If the emphasis is placed on works then it could possibly lead us to legalism. If the focus is on faith alone then it can lead us to complacency. Helping our students learn how to balance faith and works in their walk is crucial to growth and maturity in Christ. We need to show our students how faith and works go hand in hand.

Here are are some ways teaching our students about faith and works helps them in their personal walk. 


It teaches them how to read and study scripture. 

One time, I had a student ask me why Paul disagreed with James. I was confused at first what he was asking, but as he unpacked his question I realized what he was referencing. Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-9

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

He was referencing this passage and holding it up to James as maybe a point of contention or disagreement between James and Paul. 

What a great opportunity to teach our students about the process of studying scripture in its context. These two passages can help our students understand the process of studying scripture, and also lay the groundwork for understanding justification and sanctification. Paul is talking about the moment we are justified before God, and accepted into his family as his children. James is pointing us to the result of that moment Paul is talking about and the effect it should have on our life. 

It helps them to understand worship.

Worship is a response. It is our response to God’s goodness, grace, love and mercy in our lives. 2 Corinthians 5:14 tell us that Christ’s love compels us. Worship is more than just singing songs before the speaker comes up to talk. It is a response to what God is doing in our lives. 


It helps them to understand grace.

Grace is vital in student ministry. Teenagers need grace. Teenagers will mess up and they need to know that’s OK. God still loves them because his love and salvation are not based on any work (good or bad) that they do, but because of his mercy and love. We don't work to earn (or keep) our salvation, but we do good works because of the love and mercy God has shown us. 

It changes obligation to invitation. 

James’ thought was faith without works could not be a faith that was alive because an alive faith would produce works. Students have to grow in their love for Christ and allow works to flow from that. James’ point was that a faith that is growing and alive will produce works. When a passion and love for Christ grows in the life of a believer it then comes alive and it produces works. 

Faith and works go hand and hand. You can’t have one with out the other. We need to challenge our students to be growing in their faith in Christ and being active in their works. 

About The Author: Steve Hall

Steve has spent the last 10 years in student ministry and currently serves at First Baptist Piedmont. He is married to his best friend, Kristin. His passion is to see students take ownership of their faith and live a life that leaves an impact for the kingdom. In his spare time he enjoys friends, coffee, movies, and spends an exuberant amount of energy talking about the OKC Thunder and Star Wars.