I cannot help but to return to this same portion of Scripture from the last post, in that, I feel there’s still more to glean from these verses. I’ll not rehash what has already been said, since it has been just a few days since the last post, except to revist verse 14, the basis for this post: “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”
We already know to have made a profession of faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not enough. Just as a newborn babe has life, it is not enough just to have life. The newborn cannot continue to exist healthily without proper nutrition and the environmental protection and care necessary to maintain good health and growth…to become a healthy man. On a spiritual level, it is the same. To have responded to God’s invitation to Eternity, “life” with Him forever and ever, this spiritual life must be nurtured as well in order for it to come to a healthy, mature and vital existence as part of the Bride of Christ.
How does this spiritual maturity develop? This newborn faith must “feed” on the Word of God daily, and in the consistent feeding upon God’s Word, the Holy Bible, we begin to come to know God, Who He is, what His promises are, what it is He requires for our intimate walk with Him, that we may, as we grow, manifest His works of Righteousness. Our works of His Righteousness in us is what will be seen of others. Others could come to know the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, “as” we manifest Him in our lives. And, what if we don’t? Well, it is simple. Just as the body will die of malnutrition, so will our faith die spiritually and God’s purpose for us will not be accomplished. We are, for all intents and purposes, a ‘dead branch’ on His Vine. We cannot “fake” good works. John 15:1-17 is a dissertation by Jesus, Himself, where He speaks of Himself as being the True Vine and we are “the branches”. In verse 5 of John 15, Jesus says, “I am the Vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
Perhaps we need to take some personal inventory and see how our faith is doing?
James gives us two different examples of “faith and works” in action! In verse 21, James reminds us of Abraham’s faith from Genesis 22:9,12 where we read of Abraham offering to God, Isaac, his son, his long awaited ONLY son, upon an altar of sacrifice. The test was to see if Abraham loved God more than he loved his son. Abraham was responding in obedience to God’s command, to sacrifice Isaac. Putting ourselves in Abraham’s place, how would we have responded to do this very same thing with one of our own children? When first we began this study in James, we read these verses, “…count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; know this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:2-4 Could WE count it all joy to be put to such a testing of faith? I don’t know, if I could or not. I do know this: the Lord has told me that He would not test me beyond that which I was able to be tested. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape; that ye may be able to bear it.” – I Corinthians 10:13.
God is faithful!! This is His nature! He is faithful to His Word, also. Look at what happens next in James 2:23 concerning Abraham and God. “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness and he was called the Friend of God.”
Abraham’s “faith” was on the line. It was being tested to see of what metal his faith was made. Would he obey God or would his faith waver; falter? As we read the Genesis account of Abraham’s faith, we see that God, Who is faithful, provided His own sacrifice for Abraham, after Abraham proved his faith. He had passed the test! He believed God’s promise to him of a son, and of a nation that would come through him. Thus, he obeyed God’s command to sacrifice his son, knowing God. This is key, you see. Our faith is as strong as our knowing God, what He is like: merciful, loving and also just and how He works. This act of faith on Abraham’s part was his “works”. He put his faith into action. His faith was not dead.
James 2:24 gives us his “P.S.” on this illustration of faith and works when he says, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified and not by faith only.”
The other illustration James gives is that of Rahab, the harlot. The harlot?! Can a harlot be useful to God’s purpose? Can a harlot enter the kingdom of God?
Rahab’s faith tank was perhaps of a lesser degree than Abraham’s. Yet her meager faith does not go without works. We cannot give the excuse that we need to grow more in God’s Word in order to have good works. James 2:25 says that Rahab was justified by her works when she received the messengers and had sent them out another way. You can read this Old Testament account for yourself in Joshua 2:1-24. Another example of how her “works” proved her faith…and not only proved her faith but it saved her life. Matthew Henry said this of Rahab: Rahab preferred God’s honor to “the preservation of her own country.”
Such faith, like that of Abraham and Rahab’s takes a decreasing of our own self-interests and an increasing of God’s interests. Are we willing to lay aside our will for His will; are we willing to deny our self-interests for His interests? John’s Gospel 3:30 says it plainly and clearly, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This is one of the ways God works in our lives that our faith might increase.
James 2:26 is the summary of this portion of Scripture on Faith and Works. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
The works of our faith are the evidence and the spiritual life’s sustenance, which keeps faith alive and growing.
Thank you for once again stopping by Beyond the Strait Gate. I hope you will continue to visit and leave your thoughts, comments or questions. I will do my best to respond. If you have not yet subscribed to this blog, I encourage you to do so, that you may know of the publishing of the next post.