TESTS THAT PROVE OUR FAITH: Faith and Works
by Dr. Gregory C. Magruder | October 29, 2017
Gregory Magruder Parkview Baptist Gainesville, FL 10/29/17
“Tests that Prove Our Faith: Faith and Works”
INTRODUCTION: On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his ninety-five theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther’s protest against Catholic church doctrine and practice led to what is now known at the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation recovered the Bible as the sole authority for true belief (sola scriptura) and faith in Jesus Christ, not good works, as the means of salvation (sole fide). This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation yet the issue of faith versus works continues to be a current topic. What constitutes true faith? Who is saved and who is not? How does a person become a Christian? Does it matter how I live my life if I believe in Jesus? We all struggle to define faith and how to put our faith into action. James clarifies faith and works.
FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS USELESS (2:14-17).
- The example of the unclothed and the unfed believers. What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food (14-15).
- Common sense says that Christians have a responsibility to feed and clothe the needy. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? (16).
- Principle: Faith without works is dead. In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead (17).
ANOTHER COMMON ERROR (2:18-20):
- Wrong assumption: All I need is works. 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 (18).
- Demons also believe there is one God but their actions deny him. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. (19).
- Faith and works are both necessary. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? (20).
EVIDENCE OF FAITH IN ACTION (2:21-26):
- Abraham was justified by works. Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? (21).
- Principle: Faith and actions work together to prove genuine faith. You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 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. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. (22-24).
- Rahab was justified by works. 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? (25).
- Principle restated: A true Christian will show evidence of salvation. As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (26).
If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?