by Philip Layton
James explains the link between having faith and being obedient
- According to this principle (v 10), is there anyone who has not once broken God’s law?
- Is James teaching that salvation is based on faith plus works, or is he saying that a result of our faith should be good deeds (vv 14-26)?
- Are these verses an attempt to counter those who took their free salvation too far and thought that actions don’t matter?
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Going Deeper From 'Words of Life'
True faith and good works cannot be divorced. For faith is about taking a vital spiritual walk – indicating that God has invaded our life; then about this faith breathing in and through us, as we work for God’s kingdom here on earth. This is the central message of James’s letter. It’s about faith that works.
It’s generally accepted that James is Jesus’ half-brother, the Bishop of Jerusalem, who is writing to the twelve tribes – Jews as well as Gentiles – scattered among the nations (1:1). He tells them as he tells us, that we’re to aim for spiritual wholeness. No matter what we face – trials, suffering, temptations – we’re to remain spiritually whole, calling upon God’s power to work through our faith.
Life for many is a labyrinth. As believers, we begin through the maze; yet soon hit obstacles that throw us off course, causing us to question and even doubt. The gauge for genuine faith is the ability to press on; to work through the labyrinthine difficulties we all face – constantly asking the Holy Spirit for guidance. We’re to encourage others, as we engage in and embrace practical faith.
James points out that there’s not to be favouritism; it’s loving all equally. Then it’s doing things for people – evidence of God’s love:
What good is it my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? (2:14).
The Protestant faith claims salvation by faith alone – sola fide – and by grace alone – sola gratia. This is what Martin Luther and John Calvin expounded at the time of the Reformation. James would never dispute this. Yet genuine faith is also demonstrated in how we live out our faith, in practical ways. Today, may we live out our faith by doing something beautiful for someone else.Tags: James