November 4, 2018 - Inscriptions From The Heart
November 4, 2018
“FAITH: GENUINE OR FALSE? WHICH ONE IS YOURS?”
“14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” James 2:14-26
Far from contradicting the salvation by grace through faith stated in Ephesians 2:8-9, the above Scripture passage affirms the oft-forgotten verse of Ephesians 2 that God created us for good works. It is this empirical and tangible evidence of good works that James says verify whether one’s faith is counterfeit or genuine. James gives us a guideline and some examples of faith that makes us right before God.
Just as real love expresses itself in actions, so real faith acts in love. Faith that has no deeds and no action is no good (v.14). Do-nothing faith is hollow, superficial and useless (v. 16). Zero-action faith is dead. Faith that is action-less is lifeless (v. 17)
A negative example of faith not worth following – “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! (v. 19)” Mere intellectual assent, believing with fear and trembling do not make one’s faith genuine. Faith that is head-knowledge alone is according to verse 19, demonic.
Two excellent examples of genuine faith – Abraham and Rahab (vv. 21-26)! If my faith is genuine and for real, then it must show itself by my actions. Faith and actions working together tells me that such (my) faith works (vv. 22-23). Please note that James is not condoning prostitution. Rahab’s action is commended because it validates her faith. If sports athletes are honored in sports’ halls of fame, Rahab made it to God’s “hall of faith.” Hebrews 11:31, “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.”
Genuine faith results in a changed life that produces good deeds.