What is the value of good works? Have you ever neglected good works, content to sit back and let someone else do the work? Do faith and works go together?
Our verse of the day comes from James 2:14-18.
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 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 is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
Let’s break it down.
At first glance, it’s easy to make the above passages all about helping those less fortunate. After all, reading the text, one could easily condemn the person who does nothing to help the helpless person but instead wishes them well as they continue in their disparity, and the other walks away feeling good that they wished them well.
But is that the point James is trying to make here? What is he saying about faith and works?
James is saying that faith without works is dead. We often hear the rebuttal argument citing the passages from Romans 3:28, where the Apostle Paul teaches that we are saved by faith apart from works of the law.
So which one is it?
Are we saved by faith and works or faith without works?
I think it is wise to look at their audiences. Who are these guys speaking to?
Paul is speaking to the Romans and Galatians. James is speaking to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations.
What are they saying?
Paul’s audience performed works in obedience to the law of Moses. This is before men’s faith in the gospel.
James talks about works that were done in obedience to the gospel.
Both guys want to “magnify the faith of the gospel, as that which alone could save us and justify us.”
“Paul dealt with those who depended on the merit of their works in the sight of God. James dealt with those who stressed faith but would not allow works to be used even as evidences. Those who stress the gospel to set aside the law, and those who stress the law to set aside the gospel, are both in the wrong.”
Paul speaks about one being justified before God, and James speaks of our faith being justified before men.
Faith without works will do us no good and cannot save us. Fath which does not save will not really do us any good.
Let’s dive into this more next time we are together. There’s more information to share.