What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. – James 2:14-17
In these verses James shares with us an important element of our faith. The outward result of our faith is works (e.g. missions). In his book, Victorious Living, E. Stanely Jones writes: “But a man may have an intellectual belief in everything in the creed of the churches and not have faith. Faith is an adventure of the spirit, a going out of the whole inner life in response to something we believe to be supremely worthwhile.”
Is this a challenge to us today? Are we being called to literally exercise our faith with good works? And what is the result of we don’t? Jesus gives us a warning in Revelation 3:16: “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” And James poses a rhetorical but chilling question, “Can that faith save him?” -James 2:14
Our conclusion would be that this faith is useless and brings no results to the kingdom of Christ, and I dare say, cannot lead to salvation as James 2:26 states: “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”
Our faith begs a response, and our response must be missional; works must then follow. When we go out in faith, Christ steps in and shines His light through us to a lost and broken world.
So I ask you, brethren, is your faith alive?
September 2nd, 2009 at 1:25 AM
Your post rings so true. I believe, though each of us has differing gifts and calling, in general, this is the issue of our time in the American church. Are we mostly a carnal, worldly church or is much of the activity of what is called “church” just a form of godliness? Good food for thought
September 2nd, 2009 at 2:50 AM
Many fear these verses as works salvation. Of course it’s not. If you really believe God’s in control that changes your actions. That is our freedom in Christ, we’re not under the Law. We need only trust, as we hope our children trust us and works results. How can I not shout out what God has done for me?!
If you will not shout out what God has done for you, what Jesus sacrificed for you, then you’ve lost your way. Find your way back and shout!
September 2nd, 2009 at 10:37 PM
Richard, thanks for your comments. I had a feeling someone would bring up your point as an argument, but grace has prevailed and you have so eloquently provided the answer before the rebuttal was made.
Susan, it’s so good to hear from you, my friend!
Yes, 1 Corinthians 12 helps us to understand that our gifts are different and made for different purposes. Love your comment. In my small groups Bible Study last night I pointed out that when we look at the church and become critical of the missing components which make it missional, then we really point the finger at ourselves for we ARE the church. That fact alone deeply resonates with me.
It is in Christ that we not only find WHO we are, but WHAT we are living for. We all ask that question some time in our lives; isn’t it wonderful to know there’s a Kingdom purpose when we live and work for Him?
November 16th, 2009 at 4:05 PM
Angela, my favorite verse that takes this a step further is:
1 Corinthians 2:4
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,
Faith reaches into the unseen and manifests the impossible in the seen.
Of course I naturally gravitate to this bias, as I have a 6.5 year old son who currently carries the weight of Cerebral palsy. If only true faith was alive in me, then his freedom would come.
Keep Inspiring People.
November 18th, 2009 at 4:46 PM
Timothy, oh, but such faith you have! Your story reminds me of a most humbling and tearful quote in one of my all-time favorite stories, “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens. In Stave Three: The Second of the Three Sprits we find this touching discourse by Mrs. and Bob Cratchitt:
“And how did little Tim behave?” asked Mrs. Cratchitt
“As good as gold,” said Bob, “and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me coming home that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.”
May your devotion to your family be an example to all of the God whom you serve and the faith to which you desperately cling.
Bless you, brother.