Congratulations on making it through our third week of study! It is a huge commitment to study His Word five days a week. If you are a behind, don’t get discouraged. Use the weekend to get back on track. If you are just joining us, you aren’t too late, we are only wrapping up our study of James 2 today.
Today we will continue to look at what James had to say about the connection between faith and deeds. James is not suggesting that it is our deeds that leads to our salvation but rather, because of the wonderful gift of our salvation, our faith should be seen in actions in our lives.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
James believes our faith in God should be evident by the way we live our lives. In verse 19 he is pointing out the difference between an intellectual understanding of who God is and a heart connection. Our faith is more than the head knowledge God exists, it is a relationship with the One true God. Is your faith mere head knowledge or is your heart connected to it through your intimate relationship with Him?
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
James is using Abraham as an example of someone whose faith was evident by his deeds. He is quoting from Genesis 15:6. “This is one of the key verses of the entire Old Testament. It is an important witness to the doctrine of justification by faith and to the doctrine of the unity of believers in both Old and new Testaments. Abraham’s faith was credited to him for righteousness before he was circumcised and more than four hundred years before the Law was given to his descendants Therefore neither circumcision nor the Law had a part in Abraham’s righteousness. Abraham’s faith was not merely a general confidence in God nor simple obedience to God’s command; Paul stressed that it was indeed faith in the promise of redemption through Christ.”
I love it when we see how the Old and New Testaments are so closely tied together. Abraham was justified by his faith and his faith was evident by his actions. Abraham had so much faith in the Lord that he was willing to do whatever the Lord asked – even sacrificing his own son. What amazing faith Abraham had in God!
25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
James uses Rahab as another example from the Old Testament of someone who was considered righteous by walking out her faith in action. Hebrews 11 is considered the “By Faith” section of Scripture because it lists many people from the Bible whose faith was clear by the actions in their lives. Take some time to read this chapter this weekend and reflect on what kind of faith these “heroes of faith” had.
I am glad we are wrapping up this chapter on a Friday so we have the rest of the weekend to really meditate on how we are and how we need to apply it to our lives. Is your faith evident to those around you by the way you live your life? Is your faith so central to who you are that you can’t help but show it to others?
What are some of the things you have done or are doing that show your faith in action? As you reflect on these, are they things mostly from your past or are they things you are currently doing? If our faith in action was more evident in our past, we need to spend some time with the Lord and ask Him to help us see where we can serve Him today.
We tend to think of our faith in action by doing “big” things like going on a mission trip or serving in a particular ministry. However, our faith should be in action in the little things we do each day. What are some of the little things you have done this week that show others your faith?
Scripture reference comes from http://www.biblegateway.com
- Quote comes from “Key Word Study Bible”, notes section, AMG Publishers