Wednesday, September 2, 2015

James 2:1-10, 14-17 Faith without Works is Dead

KEY TEXT: James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 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? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 

KEY THOT: James is quite clear here that true faith produces “works of faith”. While we are not saved by works, but by faith, the faith that saves is the one that results in good works. As Paul declares in Ephesians 2:8, “by grace you have been saved through faith.” Having received the salvation by faith, we are now called to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13). God is a God of works: he works in us first by granting to us the gift of His salvation, so that we can “work out” (release its power) by obeying His commands. As believers, we are like empty vessels that have been cleansed by Jesus’ blood, with spouts at the base. God has poured into us His Spirit (living water) in order that we can pour out that water of life into the thirsty world as “good works”.

Faith is not just assent to a truth; faith is a commitment to the truth claims over our lives and demands that we submit (not shudder like demons) to the truths we have put our faith in. Our highest expression of faith is our commitment to love God in our worship and to love others as ourselves (by demonstrating and telling the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who are in need).

I have to demonstrate practical love to all, not just people of our class or caste. I must always treat all people with equal respect: the rich and the poor, the educated and not so educated, the high caste (landed property owners) and the low caste (the HDB heartlanders). Whatever our educational or socio-economic status, we are all sinners before God—naked before God like the emperor’s who thought he had clothes on, when in fact he has nothing. Our worth is not determined by our wealth, but by our rich inheritance in Christ for everyone who believes. The greatest “good work” we can do is to share Christ with neighbours, so that they themselves may have direct access to the goodness of God, who “supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19).

Charles Wesley wrote this famous line in one of his 6,000 hymns: “For if Thy works on earth be sweet, what will Thy glory be?” For those who shun "works" because they believe grace is enough, they have missed out the joy and sweetness of service which gives them a foretaste of heavenly glory. Through the “works of faith”, we experience fellowship with Jesus, not just by walking with Him, but by working with Him for the salvation of the lost.

Father, thank You that You have given us so great a salvation that has already transformed us while on earth. Indeed when we take up Your yoke of labour, we work as You work and experience the sweetness of not only walking with You but also working with Jesus. Amen.

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