We all know that it is faith alone in Christ’s sacrifice that saves us, not any work we do. This does not mean, however, that to have faith means that you don’t have to do anything to show it.
James 2:14 – 14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
James is not contradicting the Biblical teaching that we are saved by faith and not by any works. It’s true that no amount of good works can save you at all. But, what kind of faith does one have if it is never evidenced by works?
Do you see the difference?
Jesus gives us a life changing spirit when we accept Him, so how can someone truly believe and not be affected by that spirit?
Paul even recognized the need for good works when he wrote in Titus 3:8
|This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.|
One way to say it is “Faith alone saves, but faith that saves is not alone.”
James 2:15-17 – 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.
Someone who has the love of God filling them will desire to help out a fellow Christian. It does no good to just offer religious advice and then send them on their way. Faith needs to take action, and more than just prayer. Yes it’s true that if we pray for someone God will provide for them, but sometimes he expects US to be that provision.
When someone is in need, prayer alone is not the answer. We need to step up and help out, especially with the most basic of needs. “Be warmed and filled” shows that the person in question knew what the needs were, they just refused to help meet those needs.
If someone has faith, but doesn’t put action to that faith, then what good is it? God has work for us and we need to do it. God filled us with love and we need to display it.
James 2:18-19 – 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!
Some people may say that some have the gift of works, and others the gift of faith, or that some are called to works, but this is wrong! Faith is demonstrated through works.
The appeal of James is clear and logical; we can’t “see” someone’s faith, but we can see their works; you can’t see faith without works, but you can demonstrate the reality of faith by works.
Demons believe in God, but they don’t have an active faith. We need to have an active faith.
James 2:20-24 – 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.
Abraham was justified by faith way before he was asked to act upon it. The action did not develop Abraham’s faith, but it was an evidence of it. If Abraham did not have faith then he would not have had that action. Works and faith need to work hand in hand. Works must accompany a genuine faith because genuine faith is always connected with regeneration.
|As Charles Spurgeon said: “The grace that does not change my life will not save my soul.”|
James 2:24-26 – 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.
Rahab is another example of someone who was not saved by their actions, but their actions proved that they were saved.
Rahab demonstrated her trust in the God of Israel by hiding the spies and seeking salvation from their God (Joshua 2:8-13), yet her faith did something; her belief in the God of Israel would not have saved her if she had not done something with that faith.
The lesson from Abraham is clear: if we believe in God, we will do what He tells us to do. The lesson from Rahab is also clear: if we believe in God, we will help His people, even at our own expense
Just as you can have a body without life, you can also have faith without works. Both are dead and mean nothing.
Our faith must be accompanied by good works.