Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Faith Without Works Is Dead

I posted yesterday dealing with the relationship between works and faith and how we have gotten very comfortable in merely believing the “right” doctrines while ignoring the right practices.

James writes in his letter that faith without works is dead. It is for this reason that Martin Luther considered the book of James to be heretical and it seems most of us do as well. Of course we don’t have to do good deeds for our salvation, right?

I think it depends on what we mean by salvation. Most of us only understand the word salvation to mean saved from somewhere bad and going to somewhere good, but is this what James is talking about when he says, “can faith without works SAVE you?”

James goes on to give this illustration, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, then what good is it?”

Is James comparing someone’s physical needs being met, such as food and clothing, to some kind of salvation?

When James says, “You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shutter.” Is he suggesting that mere faith in God is not enough? And again, what does he mean by salvation here?

James seems to be going against our westernized version of the gospel (that unless we BELIEVE certain things about Jesus we will burn in hell and miss out on heaven) doesn’t he?

And what does Jesus have to say about all of this…?


melissa said...

i love this. i "say" a lot but i "do" very little. i really want to change that.

JustinGaynor said...

I pray the Lord transforms us all like that Melissa and He is faithful to do it!

Isaiah says, "YHWY, you establish peace for us;all that we have accomplished you have done for us."

Every time Jesus says your faith has saved you, the person has been restored or healed. Whether physically or emotionally or socially or spiritually...sometimes all at once...all authority on Heaven and Earth have been given Him. Salvation has to do with restoration, a bringing of wholeness or shalom. How?

It happens to the individual by grace working through the faithfulness of YHWY through His Word by the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through the faithfulness of you and me. This is why Paul says, YHWY's righteousness is revealed from faithfulness to faithfulness. He has made it, he has looked at the whole thing and called it very good, He will set it to rights...anything less would be to make Him out a liar.

"So that we can walk in the good works prepared for us before hand."? Humanity's humanity has been broken and lost, our image bearing nature has been beaten up, murdered and buried...it has been brutalized and demolished in all sorts of ways by our inability to judge rightly, to see and to hear, that we should have stewardship and dominion over God's good creation which yearns for the Children of God to be revealed, all the while giving conscious articulation to His majesty and glory as His priests and rulers...but God's judgment is just and it sets things to rights...overcoming the sins of the world and making all things new through His sacrifice on the cross and by the power of the resurrection...resurrection... first in Jesus and everything else in it's proper time.