In Christian circles, a “work” is defined as something a person does to earn his salvation. Since Christians cannot warm their salvation through “works” but through grace (bought by the blood of Christ), “works” are seen as something Christians don’t need to worry about. We are saved by grace, right?
So what is this verse saying? Without Faith it is impossible to please God. Ow let me clarify. This verse is speaking to Christians, those who have already been saved through Christ. But the point being made is one of principle. It is part of the “hall of Faith” passage of Hebrews 11. It is stated as an absolute, something which is always true, no matter the circumstances. So what is meant here by faith? You might note that in this context, Faith is always accompanied by some evidence of that faith. By faith, Abel offered a better sacrifice. By faith, Noah built a boat and so on. For each individual, their faith (which pleased God) was accompanied by a work that proved that faith. So might we go back and say that without faith (and thee evidence to back it up, i.e., works) it is impossible to please God. All of these men (and women) lived before Christ, so that their faith had to be established by an accompanying work in order for them to receive salvation from sin. Hmmm.
Now we are told that all we have to do is believe. Just believe, and we will be saved. That must mean that all demons are saved too, since James tells us that the demons believe in God. No? Maybe something else is required. We need to apply the blood of Christ to the heart to cleanse it from sin. How do we do that? Does that occur at the moment of faith? Is a quiet assent enough to qualify as saving faith? At least Baptists call for the Sinner’s Prayer (which cannot be found in the Bible). They say this needs to be done to “invite Jesus into your heart”. Well somebody get Noah in the phone. If Noah has merely prayed the sinner’s prayer, he would have been just fine, right? Oh, but Noah was given specific instructions as to how to be saved. He had to hold an ark. His faith in God motivated Him to build it. No, the direct message and instruction from God motivated him to build it. His faith motivated Him to carry it through.
Does the Bible carry a clear word of God for salvation? Yes, in fact it does. It says, if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16), you will be saved. It also says that repentance from sin leads to salvation. (1 Cor 7) It also says that if you confess the Lord’s name you will be saved (Rom 10) And it says that you are cleansed via baptism, your heart is purified to a clear conscience toward God (1Pet 3) , and you will rise from the waters of baptism in newness if life (Rom 6), from the waters of regeneration. If you are immersed in water (provided you have also believed) you will be saved. The Bible has a clear word for all of these. None of these, not even baptism, is a work to earn salvation, but a work to testify of faith. Faith which pleases God for salvation includes not only belief in God, but repentance from sin, confession of Christ’s Lordship over your life (and confession of faith in Christ) and immersion in water as cleansing for the spirit.
There is much more to say about this, but this will do for today. I want to encourage you, if you have not made a public confession of Jesus, nor repented of sin (putting your sinful past behind you) or been immersed in water, then you ought to look into these things.
God bless you today.