“Faith Without Works is Dead” is a verse that is thrown around by folks all the time. This is one of the most misunderstood verses in the bible. Many teachers incorrectly teach this as meaning “if you don’t have visible good works, then you were never saved at all”. This couldn’t be farther than the truth. This verse & the surrounding passages are talking to believers about their relation to non believers. The Lord’s brother is saying that we should show our faith to others by doing good works.
I’m a man who loves illustrations and analogies, so bear with me for a second.
Now, faith is an internal thing, much like a thought is. You can’t physically pull a thought out and show it to someone. You express a thought to others by speaking it or acting on it. That’s how you show a thought. Just because you don’t express a thought to others doesn’t mean that you don’t have that thought. Likewise, you show your faith to others by acting it out in good works for The Lord. But just because you don’t do good works, doesn’t mean you don’t have faith, it just means that you aren’t showing your faith to others.
An analogy that I find most useful in explaining this verse actually came from someone I was trying to explain this verse to. I was explaining this passage to my dear friend Erin, and all of a sudden she said: ” Ooh! It’s like a doctor who doesn’t help people! They have their medical degree and are a doctor, nothing can take that away from them, they will always be a doctor, but they don’t practice medicine or help people. Sure they are a doctor, but what good are they to anyone else if they don’t put that to use?”
Needless to say, I didn’t have to say anything else! I ran this analogy by a family friend of ours who is a well-respected family doctor in town, an elder at my church, and my old Sunday school teacher, and he was amazed and said that was exactly right!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying or advocating that we shouldn’t do works. In Romans 6, the apostle Paul tells us, “shall we go on sinning so that grace may abound? BY NO MEANS!”
I’m simply saying that works have nothing to do with salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 and John 3:16 clearly state that we are saved by God’s grace through our faith alone in Christ alone, not by works. The moment we believe in Christ, we are saved. We are justified, or made righteous in God’s eyes because of Christ. Romans 3:28 & Galatians 2:16 clearly say that we are justified by faith, apart from works. Romans 11:6 says “If it by grace, it is no longer of works, and if it is of works it is no longer of grace.” The word grace means “an undeserved or unmerited gift or favor”. Therefore, grace, by its very definition cannot include works.
We SHOULD do good works to please The Lord and to show our faith so that we may share the gospel with unbelievers. But those works have nothing to do with whether we spend eternity with God or not. We spend eternity with God based on Our Faith alone in Christ alone by the Grace of God.
Here is an excerpt from one of Dr Dave Anderson’s books. It explains this passage in James 2 very well.
“Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17).
“My faith, concludes James, without any works, is dead. This does not say my faith was never alive. It is dead. Paul talked about the root. James talks about the fruit. Paul looks at the tree and talks about the root where it began. James looks at the tree and talks about the fruit. He does not say it is a fake tree, but that the tree, which was once very much alive and productive, now has no fruit. It has lost its life. It needs rejuvenating, revitalizing”
“James says there is so much more to life than heaven and hell. To James, our life is like a house we are building. Capturing our Lord’s parable from the Sermon on the Mount, he says if we build on the firm foundation of hearing and doing, i.e. faith plus works, our house (meaning our life), will endure, and be preserved in the storm. It will be saved both literally and figuratively. The life lived in accordance with God’s Word will be a healthier and happier life on earth, and its value and worth will be saved and preserved for eternity at the JSC [Judgment Seat of Christ]. But the Christian who builds his life, his house, on just hearing God’s Word without aligning his life with it is a fool, says Christ. He builds his house on sand with no concrete. The first big storm will send it crumbling. He will be miserable in this life, and his life will have no profit to show at the JSC.
“That is why we stress God’s Word. According to James 1:21, it has the potential to save our lives, both on earth and in heaven. God’s Word touches every area of our lives. When we hear and do as it instructs, we are like wise men who build their lives on a solid foundation. We will find success min this life and significance in the next. Every area of our lives that we submit to the wisdom of His Word can have eternal value and worth— family, business, recreation, friendships, health, worship, parenting, you name it. God is interested in preserving far more than our spirits for eternity. Our spirits are preserved by faith alone. He also wants to preserve every area of our life on earth, so it can weather the storms and yield fruit for eternity. This requires more than faith. It requires hearing and doing. That dynamic combination of faith and works has the potential of giving us a healthy, happy life today, the value of which is being preserved in the world to come. With a life built on God’s Word, no storm can blow our house down.”
*Anderson, David R. (2013-07-08). Triumph Through Trials: The Epistle of James
You crushed it man. Keep up the good “work” 😉
Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android
LikeLiked by 1 person
God is love. Love involves compassion. Wherever there is unconditional love, God is present. It is through him that we are able to love and receive love. A good work is measured by the amount of love that goes with it. If there is no love, there is no good work. It may be philanthropy, but it is not a good work. Consequently, God is present in any good work. He communicates himself to the one who does the good work and to the recipient of the good work. Sometimes people say: ” God does not communicate with me.” But every time they show compassion to someone or someone shows compassion to them – if they are grateful for the gift – they are having an encounter with God in the love that flows from such a good work. God is touching them at their deepest core. He is manifesting his essence to them. God moves our heart. We meet him face to face there. If we are of good will, we will seek more such encounters and draw closer to him.
Phil 2:13 “13 It is God who, for his own generous purpose, puts into you both the will and the action.”
God initiates a good work, God gives us the will to do a good work, and God gives us the ability to do the good work, it is impossible for us to do a good work in our own strength. That is what is meant by good works, doing the works that God has prepared for you, through His grace, not in your own strength.
John 5:19 “Jesus replied: In all truth I tell you, by himself the Son can do nothing; he can do only what he sees the Father doing: and whatever the Father does the Son does too.”
Good works cleanse our souls. Luke 11:41 “41 Instead, give alms from what you have and, look, everything will be clean for you.”
Forgiveness is a good work
Matt 6:15 “15 but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”.
Salvation is not possible if we are unforgiving.
How do we love our neighbour? By doing good deeds.
1 John 4:20 “19* We love, because he first loved us. 20* If any one says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot * love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.”
Romans 2:6-7 “For God will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well doing (good works) seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life” – note “by patience in well doing….. he will give eternal life.” Eternal life.
Rev 3:15 “15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.”
James is indeed talking about salvation in James 2. James clearly tells us that if we have no good works to show, we do not have salvation. He says that such a faith does not help us.
James 2:14 “How does it help, my brothers, when someone who has never done a single good act claims to have faith? Will that faith bring salvation?”
In 1 John we find considerable scriptural backing against the doctrine of “Faith Alone” .
John makes it clear here that something additional to faith is required.
That is to strive to live a life without sin, and if we do sin, to acknowledge our sins in order to be forgiven by God; that “if we live in the light” the blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin, implying that if we do not live in the light, it won’t; that if we say we have no sin, the truth has no place in us.
That if we do not keep the commandments, the truth has no place in us, and if we say we know Jesus without keeping the commandments, we are liars, who, Rev 22:15 tells us, will not inherit eternal life (– “everyone of false speech”); that if we claim to be in Jesus we need to act like Jesus did; that the proof that we are in God is that we keep his Word; that to remain in Jesus we have to act as he acted; that he who hates his brother is blinded by darkness; that for anyone who loves the world, the love of the father finds no place in him, because disordered desires of the body and the eyes and pride in possession are not from God; that he who does the will of God remains for ever; that everyone whose life is upright is a child of God.
That whoever sins has neither seen nor recognized God; that whoever lives sinfully belongs to the devil; that whoever does not live uprightly and does not love his brother is not from God; that whoever does not love remains in death; that whoever hates his brother is a murderer and has no eternal life remaining in him; that God’s love does not remain in him who does not share his worldly possessions; that our love must be something genuine and active; that Jesus’ commandment was that we should believe in him and love one another as he commanded us; that whoever keeps Jesus’ commandments remains in God and God in him.
That whoever fails to love does not know God; that when we love one another God remains in us and comes to perfection in us; that anyone who says “I love God” and hates his brother is a liar;
That we know we love one another when we love God and keep his commandments; that to love God is to keep his commandments;
John tells us that sin and failure to love cuts us off from God, that we are to keep Jesus’ commandments and act as he did and that eternal life does not remain in him who hates his brother. John also makes it clear that we must always be on our guard against falling, which tells us that we can fall.