James 2:14-18 KJV
14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
When I first read James, I thought to myself, oh snap, did I give misinformation!? I take that very seriously. I’m not a teacher. Nor am I ordained in any office of the five-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). But I do believe that just by posting this, I will be judged more strictly (James 3:1).
At first, it seems James’s teaching in the verses above and Paul’s in the following verse contradict each other:
Romans 3:28 KJV
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
But if we look more closely, we see that they complement each other.
Intellectual assent is an agreement with a set of Christian teachings. If we only agree with these truths, our faith is incomplete, and our lives will remain unchanged. Because if we truly believe, it will transform our conduct and our thoughts. That’s major!
It’s one thing to read God’s Word, to understand, and to agree. But it’s something else to believe faithfully and not waver (James 1:6).
Our good deeds will never earn our salvation. Instead, a changed life and good deeds are the results of true faith. Paul teaches to those who try to be saved by deeds instead of true faith. James warns not to confuse intellectual assent with true faith. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19 KJV)
In summary, we cannot earn our salvation through acts of loving service or our obedience. However, these actions do demonstrate our real commitment to God. Good deeds do not replace but rather prove our faith in Christ.
Interesting Fact: Jesus’ brother James, a leader in the Jerusalem church, wrote this letter. Not the apostle James.
Image by Freely Photos via Freely Photos