Reading Through The New Testament - November 3rd, 2016 - James 2 The Faith and Works Dilemma
Martin Luther famously calls the book of James an “epistle of straw” and argued to remove it from the cannon of scripture.
Because of the chapter we read today. Luther was an advocate for salvation by grace and not by works. Rightly so, as he was reacting to the corruption he saw in the church as they were selling salvation to the highest bidder.
Yet, here is Jesus’ brother saying that if our faith doesn’t produce good works it is not a good faith at all!
So, do we have to work for our salvation or is it all grace?
Is James contradicting a gospel of grace as seen in the letters of Paul?
Let’s take a look!
James is arguing that faith isn’t the same as believing. Demons believe in God, James says. So surely, just believing in God is not enough for faith.
Faith is active.
Faith has fruit.
Faith is acting on your belief of God. Faith is actively trusting, not passively agreeing to an idea.
I for one, I am so grateful for this chapter. James is addressing what can happen when we use “saved by grace” as an excuse to live a life of sin.
For example, imagine a Christian who encounters someone in need and they respond by: it’s ok, I believe in God and I’m saved, so I really have no reason to help you. But, I’ll pray that you believe in God too. ummm bye!
Is this the faith that was modeled to us? Nope.
The evidence of someone changed by grace is grace being given to others.The evidence of someone being changed by the love of God is someone who loves others.
The evidence that I have faith in the chair I’m sitting in is… that I sit in it!
It’s not enough to say “I believe that chair supports my weight” and then sit on the floor.
So, are you simply a believer? Or do you have faith? Do you have any deeds that are evidence of your faith?