Our Faith and Works
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.
~ JAMES 2:18 (NKJV)
You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. ~ JAMES 2:24 (NKJV)
In the book of Romans, Paul goes to great lengths to tell us that no person can earn or win forgiveness from God by what they do. It’s only by God’s grace that comes down to us that we win forgiveness. The fact is that Jesus died for our sins. After we accept that, then we should grow in our Christian faith. This is where the works come into the picture.
The verses from James seem to oppose what Paul says. However, James is talking to professing Christians. His message is not opposing what Paul said, but rather complementing what Paul said. In the message by James, it is not a case of either faith or works but a case of both faith AND works.
In the latter part of James 2, two examples of faith with works are given to us. Abraham, because of his faith, answered God’s call by his actions with his only son, Isaac. He proved that his faith was real by consenting to sacrifice his son. The second example was Rahab. She hid the spies from Israel and then let them go with the promise that she and her family would be saved. She risked her life by going with the future and fortune of the conquering Israelites. Abraham and Rahab both showed that their faith was real by the actions they took.
In a well-balanced Christian life, there must be faith and works (or deeds). It is through deeds that faith will show itself to be alive in us, and it is through faith that those deeds can spring forth out of our lives. They are linked together.
As we grow in our faith and demonstrate it through our deeds, we cannot leave out prayer and Bible study. These two activities will strengthen our faith and prepare us to go out into the world with God by our side, as Colossians 1:10 tells us, “... being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
Dear God, we pray that during this Lenten season as we prepare for Easter, you will help us turn our faith into productive deeds for you.
TOM BENNETT, PITMAN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH