Faith Without Works is Dead

Today’s Bible Journaling is taken from James 2:17, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (NASB) Sometimes I think this passage can cause a little conflict and confusion in the Believer. When we read what James says in this passage and then compare it to what the Apostle Paul states in Romans 3:27-28, Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 2:21, and other verses, the Bible seems to contradict itself.

However, there is no contradiction. James is not saying that our salvation comes by works, but that our salvation is shown in the works we do. We do those works because of our love for Jesus and what He did for us on the cross, and not because we feel we must work our way to Heaven. Paul focused on the fact that salvation comes by faith alone, and James believed that also, but he was pointing out that we can talk about having faith in God all day long, but if that faith is not poured out in action, it’s basically all talk and nothing more.

James gives an example in verses15-16, “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” Faith is important, for without it we cannot be saved, our lives are made more difficult if we don’t have faith to believe God for the things we need, and we cannot grow in our Christian lives. But having faith and not showing that faith by our actions, does no good. James explains that we should show our faith by our works.

I remember having a conversation with a young man many years ago. He was in a denomination that was very works driven and he hammered away at this passage as his proof for why he believed as he did. I tried to explain that works could not buy his way into Heaven, it takes faith in the sacrifice of Jesus’ death and resurrection that gets us a place with the Father in Heaven. He had a very hard time grasping it. It was obvious he had read his Bible, but the idea that faith alone would get him to Heaven, and accepting Jesus’ sacrifice as payment for his sins, was something he just couldn’t understand. I tried to explain that it takes a personal relationship with Jesus that is the basis of our faith, and that through that faith and love for Jesus that our works are displayed. I don’t know if that young man ever came to know Jesus as His Savior, but I pray that he ran into someone who could minister to him in a way that he could understand.

Faith requires obedience as well. The Apostle Paul explains in Romans 1:5 that it is through Jesus that we receive grace that brings about obedience of faith. Because we have faith in what Jesus has done for us, we are obedient to His will for us, and that obedience of our faith shows forth in our deeds.

I believe that as we act on our faith, it will show forth the love of Jesus to others as well. That is where we can become an example to unbelievers. As we pour out our love for them in the deeds we do, they begin to see that it is because of our faith in Jesus that we love them and show our concern for them and their spiritual condition, and that makes them want that same love and faith. So, let your faith take action!

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