It's subjects like these remind me that my Mother was raised Catholic. It's also subjects like these where I can't help but wonder if Catholicism is hereditary to a certain extent, or at least on certain aspects.
I've heard at least a thousand times you only have to believe to get into Heaven (Acts 16:31). Now, I'll be the first to affirm that the ONLY way to God the Father, and Heaven is through Jesus Christ the Son (John 14:6), who died on our behalf as an atonement for a depraved state of being (Isaiah 53:5). I believe that anything other than that is a false gospel, and WILL NOT lead you to eternal salvation.
I see, more than anything else, that idea that Faith is all that is required of Christians. As a result, it seems that Christianity a whole spends all of our time on our Spiritual "sofa." Pardon the crude metaphor, but it, to me at least, is very, very obvious that Christians as a whole just don't seem to move in the Spirit as we are called to. Sunday morning Service is not it, and I know I'm not saying anything that's never been said before. It is absolutely ludicrous to believe that nothing but Faith is required of a Christian. For the sake of clarification, I do believe that Faith in Christ as God's Son is absolutely the way into Heaven, but I do not believe works are to be pushed aside, and Faith made the one and only focal point.
James 2:24 (ESV) states: "You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." I especially like the GOD'S WORD Translation, which words it as follow - "You see that a person receives God's approval because of what he does, not only because of what he believes."
I also, due to other Scriptures, find it absolutely impossible to believe that God does not take into account our works as Christians.
1 Peter 3:12 (ESV) says: "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil
Now, keep in mind, this scripture is New Testament, ergo, it is AFTER the New Covenant created in Christ's Crucifixion. Were we to take this passage in context, it comes after a long list of verses telling Christians how to act in a Godly manner, i.e. "Love the brethren...Do not return evil for evil. (1 Peter 3:8-9)" The root of the words actions is act, and I see actions taken as another word for works - ergo, Peter, by divine Revelation of God the Father, is putting forth guidelines in which Christians should conduct themselves, i.e. the works which they should practice.
Were works to not hold any weight with God, why would Scripture mention God judging His people by their Fruit (John 15:5-6, Matt 7:17-20)? In addition, Romans 2:6 (ESV) states "He will render to each one according to his works."
In addition, there are numerous Scriptures that support The Great Commission, which in every Scripture commands Christians to GO out and preach The Gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:45-48; John 20:21; Acts 1:8). Note, that each Scripture uses a verb, which is a word used to describe an action.
Now, again, I am not promoting that we are justified by works alone - I believe such a doctrine is a false gospel, as it quite literally spits in the face of Christ and His Crucifixion on our behalf. However, we cannot expect to share the Love, Peace, Contentment, and absolute Freedom by NOT taking action.
Luke 11:33 (ESV) "No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light." Without works, are we not doing exactly what this Scripture warns against?
I absolutely, absolutely encourage discussion. My only requests are that this discussion stays God-centered and things are not taken personally. Let me also say that I do not claim to be correct in any sense - or rather, to be the final authority on the Faith vs Works debate. I encourage disagreement, so long as it is Scripturally grounded. I encourage discussion, I see nothing with Biblical discussion of God, and how He works. I ask, again, that things remain civil, and we remember that we are Sons and Daughters of Jesus Christ, son of God the Father, and that we let our conversation be always filled with Grace (Colossians 4:6).