What a big issue!
The Gospel, is it (?) —
Faith + Nothing
Faith + Works
Faith (that Works) + Nothing
The reason this is a big deal is that it (a) Will affect how we explain / offer the gospel to others; and, (b) Undermine our assurance as believers in Jesus Christ.
If you tell folks they must add works to their faith, then please know you do not believe in faith alone. This has been the mainstay and understanding of Bible believing Christians since the Reformation, however, the debate has has raged since then about what to do with works. Normally there is an incongruence in operation where it sounds like ‘faith alone’ at time, and like ‘faith + works’ at other times.
I think it is simple, but largely unrecognized:
Works have nothing to do with our salvation, but much to do with our sanctification (spiritual growth). Normally in the discussions those who disagree start throwing out labels such as “antinomianism”. Antinomianism has been used as throughout history as an inflammatory charge. The funny thing is that it has been used by Roman Catholics against the Reformers, by the Reformers against Evangelicals, and even Arminians against Evangelicals.
If you don’t know all these groups and terms don’t worry about it. Antinomianism simply means ‘against law’ and nothing more. So, any group which is against your group’s ‘law’ is antinomian to you. I really am fond of A.W. Tozer (who did not believe in the eternal security of Christians), but he misses it here:
In other words, Tozer offers that it is WRONG to say, ‘We are saved by faith alone; works have no place.” but that is exactly what Romans 4, Romans 11:6,29, and Ephesians 2:8&9) says (please read them yourself). Yet, simply put, if you look at your works rather than Christ, then you will doubt because your works will always be flawed. Looking at Christ alone (l00k = believe here), will always lead to assurance because of His promise (see John 3:16, 5:24).
So what do we do with being called ‘antinomian’ in the debate? Well I’ve suggested one solution as promoting our belief in Lordship Sanctification; however, there is another option. We can simply be against antinomianism, and pass it along as belonging to the the universalists (the ones who believe everyone is accepted by God with out regard to faith or works) where it belongs!
Another option is to explain what we really believe. I offer a fresh term called Necranomian. Necranomian means one is ‘dead to the law’ (see Romans 7 and 2 Corinthians 3) not ‘aganst’ the law.
I’ve explained this more completely in an appendix of Back to Faith (go get a copy).
In the meantime, it really is Faith Alone in Christ Alone. Please don’t drift. The truth is that our growth relates to works, but our acceptence and forgivenss comes through simple faith in Jesus Christ.
P.S. Here’s the Appendix on Antinomianism from Back To Faith (c) Fred R. Lybrand : Is This Antinomianism?