James 2:14-26

A Faith That Works

James 2:14-26

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can faith save him?  [James 2:14]

That is the million dollar question!  Can faith without works save a person?  As you read further down in 2:16-17, the answer is an emphatic no!  The warning is clear, “if a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,” and you simply say “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body,” your faith is dead [ref. 2:17].

You see, faith requires action.  It is not enough to have encouraging words and prayers; our word must be accompanied by our walk.  Otherwise our faith is not working as God intended; it is not alive.

James goes on to give two examples from the Old Testament.  “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?  Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” [2:22].  These last words are key; “and by works faith was made perfect?”  Faith has two parts; the believing and the doing.  But so often we never get past the first even though the first part is required for the second part to be fulfilled.  But it is the second part [the works] that completes faith [i.e., works are what make faith perfect].

It is interesting that even the demons have the first part down.  “You believe that there is one God.  You do well.  Even the demons believe – and tremble!” [2:19]  Their great omission, however, are works.  The demons believe who Christ is, but their works oppose Him.

That is why faith is more than believing.  Faith starts with belief but is completed by works.  That does not mean we are saved by works.  Salvation is solely rendered by the work of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary.  HOWEVER, once we have received that work [in our heart], we are changed, we are “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” [Eph 2:10].

Faith and works is a unit; you cannot have one without the other.  James said it well:  “Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” [James 2:18]

In the end, what we do speaks louder than what we say.