“Faith without works cannot be called faith.” James proclaims, ‘Faith without works is dead’ (2:26), and a dead faith is worse than no faith at all. Faith must be put into action; it must produce fruit; it must be seen by others. Just saying that you have faith is not enough; mental faith is insufficient. Faith must be there, but it must be more. It must inspire action. Throughout his letter to the Jewish believers, James connects true faith and everyday practical experience by stressing that true faith must make itself known in works of faith.”
There are three statements that James makes concerning a Christian’s faith:
(1) Faith Without Good Works Doesn’t Do Anyone Any Good. Can faith without deeds save the lost? No! “Does it do any good to tell someone that you’re a Christian, but you’re not serving the Lord anywhere?” Just telling someone that you’re a Christian and then not do anything with it is worthless according to God’s Word.
Just saying you’re a Christian does not make you a Christian. A verbal testimony alone is not enough evidence to prove that true saving faith is present.
Can works save you? No! Over the years, many theologians has fiercely contrasted what James says concerning faith and works with that of the apostle Paul. James said, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26 NKJV). Paul said, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”(Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV).
James’s teachings are consistent with Paul’s teaching that we are saved by faith alone. Here is how it works. Paul emphasized the purpose of faith in bringing about salvation. The law cannot save you. Salvation comes by having faith in Jesus Christ. James takes off where Paul stopped because James emphasizes the results of faith – a changed life, a believer who produces fruit.
(2) True Faith Leads to Right Actions. How does real, authentic faith reveal itself? It shows itself in real deeds. James continues to insist that real, genuine faith reveals itself in good works, and that there is no room for some people to emphasize faith while others stress good works.
The faith that resides in a Christ-follower can only be seen by the actions it produces through us. Anyone can say they believe in God, but only their actions show their genuineness. As an example we can look at the demons, “Even they believe there is one God, and they tremble!” shows that by their actions, they demonstrate that they have “faith” that there is only one true God; but their faith is a misguided faith.
(3) Commitment Proves Your Faith. How does this happen? By committing your heart and mind to the Lord and by committing your actions in obedience to the Lord
Faith and good works are as important to each other as body and spirit. Good works does not add anything to faith; instead, real genuine faith will produce good works. Otherwise, Christianity is nothing more than an idea. True Christians will put their faith into action. It is important that each professing Christian examine his or her own heart and life and make sure they possess a faith that results in good works.
Keith Stewart is pastor of Morriston Baptist Church.