Faith Without Works Is Dead
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 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[a] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
There it sits in my Bible, a challenge calling to me in a way that doesn’t let go and pulls me ever deeper. “I will show you my faith by my works”… How do I show my faith by my works? There are times it seems a simple question to answer and other moments I feel I am so far from the heart of God… And it isn’t just me, this passage has been a source of arguments and theological disagreement throughout the centuries as to what exactly it means.
“See also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
Because scripture also clearly says, “ For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
It is easy to confuse the purpose of works. Instead of having actions flow out of our faith, we revert to making them the means by which we have faith- right standing with God. What seemed so simple in one sentence becomes complex.
Maybe the problem is that we often view “faith” as a noun:
: strong belief or trust in someone or something
: belief in the existence of God : strong religious feelings or beliefs
: a system of religious beliefs
While it is a noun, that alone cannot contain the immensity and breadth of the word. We forget it is a verb. And no wonder… look at the definition of faith v.:
: believe, trust
That’s it… I’m not making it up you can read it for yourself.
When even Webster’s definition is so short you know either it is a simple term or we simply have a problem. I’m going with the latter here because faith as a verb, an action, an occurrence or a state of being… well that is something BIG. And yet, even Webster’s definition does not suffice.
And in all that I see the heart of the struggle. See, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Said another way, faith that stays as a system of beliefs is just a lesson in history or philosophy; faith doesn’t have life until it is lived. Really lived.
It is here, where faith the noun needs to become faith the verb, that we struggle.
Maybe that’s what James means when he said, “18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
Faith is meant to be a life lived.
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Our faith in God, established by His loving act of Christ’s atonement on the cross, becomes our foundation for living. Loving God leads to living (faith v.) for God.
How is called calling you to a deeper faith through a life lived? I’d love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment below, send an email/message and let’s talk!