“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2.14) The Church of Christ loves James 2. It is cited repeatedly (and rightly so) to combat the false doctrine of salvation by faith alone, a statement not made in the Bible. However, this article is not about an academic argument, it is about an acted-out compliance.
James continues to talk about the interaction between people. James discusses taking care of each other’s needs- showing faith by the actions that Christians do. James is not fighting against scholars and academia; he is pointing out that our daily actions should be Christlike. James is calling out pew sitters and other religious bystanders. Abraham moves across the (known) world and is willing to kill his son; Rahab is willing to face death at the hand of the king of Jericho. Actions, not words. Arriving at a building and reciting a few lines of poetry are not the works to which James calls us.
What do we stand on? Acting like God has never changed. Ever. How can I say that? Because God has never changed. God’s covenant with His people has changed several times but being righteous has never changed. Never does God say it is enough for His people to “say godly things”. Throughout the minor prophets God has the refrain repeated: “They honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me”.
Would you say that being a church-goer saves a person? I hope you would say, “no”- because it’s not found in the Bible. Then if we want to be a people who have works our works have to be evident outside of the church building. What we do throughout the week is what James is pointing at. How did you show works on Tuesday? Thursday? Etc…
Maybe we do believe in faith only. Maybe we do think that confessing that Jesus is Lord and being baptized is enough to save us- as long as we fill a pew. We can say, “faith without works is dead”- can we then enumerate our works?
On _____, I showed faith in the Almighty by doing _____.
Copy and paste that. How many can we list? Not to justify ourselves, but to evaluate ourselves. Am I showing Christ in my life, or do I believe I will by saved by faith only?