Thursday, October 27, 2011

You have faith? Show me! - October 27th, 2011

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
James 2:14-26

History and Context:
The epistle of James over history, has been one of the most controversial books in the Bible. Martin Luther, who led the reformation against the Catholic church, wanted to throw the book out. He had a strong revelation of salvation "by grace trhough faith and not by works", and he felt that James taught salvation by works. But to understand why James is not contradicting, but supporting Paul, one must understand the audience to which they wrote. When reading James you can understand that James wrote to a group of people who felt they could do anything they wanted because of grace. They said that because they had faith they didn't need works. James response was that the true faith will affect the works. This is why he writes, "show me your faith without works and I will show you my faith by my works." James 2:18
The Text:
As mentioned above, James was clearly writing to people who felt they could do anything because of grace. The devil always tries to get us into one extreme. Paul continually addressed the extreme religous; the one who felt that you had to follow a bunch of rituals and regulations in order to be saved. For this reason, his letters are filled with the message of 'grace through faith'. James is addressing the opposite extreme; people who think that because of grace they can do whatever they want. This does not mean that Paul and James are contradicting each other. It simply means they are teaching opposite extremes and attempting to bring them into the correct path. This correct path is when we realize that we can never earn our salvation and God accepts us just as we are and gives us grace. But that grace also gives us the power to change the way we act and live. Jesus gave strict guidelines of what it means to follow Him, it is only through the grace of God that we have any chance of following them. Thankfully, we also have, through the grace of God, the ability to get back up whenever we make mistakes. But as Paul makes clear in Romans, this grace does not mean we should simply keep sinning.
The Challenge:
Since Martin Luther had the revelation of "saved by grace, through faith" this passage has been one of the most controversial passages in the Bible among Christians. I even heard that recently a prominent preacher in today's society said that James is not relevant to today because of this passage. So what is our challenge? Understand the balance, protect the whole Word of God, and live by the grace and the faith that has been given you. Make it a point to show the world your faith through your actions. Don't just tell them that you believe in God, show them that you believe in God!

The Prayer:
Lord, help me to let my actions match up with my faith. Help me to show the world that I truly am your follower simply through my actions. In Jesus' name, Amen!


  1. Well said matthew, I wouldn't change a word of it! This is much needed!
    Chris Blevins