September 7, 2018
James 2:14-17 …“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?” vs. 14
Martin Luther famously lamented the presence of the book of James in the New Testament and called it an “epistle of straw.” He said this because he believed that it undermined the teachings of Paul, who wrote to the Romans that we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Sadly, Luther’s comments have led to a general disregard for what James has to tell us about the new life in Christ. James wasn’t against faith! He simply says that if we claim to have faith we’d better be actively involved in reaching out to the poor and the needy. As he says, “Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead!” And really Paul argued for the same principle in refuting the notion that grace gives us a license to live as we please. James is right in his emphasis on works. It’s not that doing the works justifies us before God. But if we aren’t doing the works, it’s pretty clear that faith is absent. Anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus will be doing the same things that Jesus did. We’ll be reaching out to the oppressed, feeding the hungry, and healing the broken. If we’re not doing those things, our piety is pointless and we could just as well stay in bed instead of going to worship.
Thought for the Day: What kind of works is James talking about?