This James series in our morning congregations has been an unavoidable challenge. '“If people say they have faith, but do nothing, their faith is worth nothing. Can faith like that save them?” - James 2:14
James’ message is bare-knuckled; his style is bare-boned. Talk is cheap, he argues. Service is invaluable. It’s not that works save the Christian, but that works mark the Christian. In James’ book of plain-speaking logic it only makes sense that we who have been given much should give much. Not just with words but with our lives.
Yet we have to reconcile the apparent contradiction between the apostle Paul’s ‘salvation by faith alone’ teaching in Romans and James’ statement ‘…a person is justified by what he does and not faith alone’. Faith without works is not true faith at all. It starts with faith and then our lives begin to change as faith inspires good works, reflecting God at work in us. For an alive faith is an active faith.
I’ve been so struck in asking myself “where has my faith taken me today?” Not just thoughts about God, but action because of life with God. James simply takes Paul’s teaching on faith one step further, arguing that without works to demonstrate faith there is no true faith. As fallen people we constantly try to put works first and faith second because it’s easier to judge and control things when it’s based on outward deeds. But a life of faith is a life lived in step with the clues of the Holy Spirit, and that’s not something we can control or dictate, but must surrender to.
We all know people who talk like Christians. They know all the right things to say, but they are never there when there’s work to be done or people to be helped. Eugene Peterson calls it even clearer in the Message: God-talk without God-acts is “outrageous nonsense”. We need to understand that God-talk and God-acts cannot be two separate things, because true faith in Jesus always results in a changed life and good works. None of us want faith without works! So where will your faith take you today?
Posted on Monday, 19th June 2017