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…?