Summary: James seems to be contradicting Paul, who taught that salvation was by faith and not by works. Martin Luther even called the book of James, a “Strawy Epistle.” James and Paul were not at odds, though.
Faith and Good Deeds
June 7, 2020
James 2:14-17, 26 NIV
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 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? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
James seems to be contradicting Paul, who taught that salvation was by faith and not by works. Martin Luther even called the book of James, a “Strawy Epistle”
Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
James and Paul were not at odds, though.
Paul was focusing on works as a means to salvation.
James was focusing on the necessity of works after salvation.
We’re not saved by good works, but we’re saved for good works.
It’s not what we do. It’s what get to participate in.
Our prayer – “Father, what are doing today and how can I cooperate?
Matthew 26:39 NIV
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Jesus was living in his most dangerous and vulnerable moment and could have asked for anything.
What’s a good deed?
1. Meeting the practical needs of people.
Matthew 25:35-36 (Jesus describing the last judgment)
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
2. Encouraging others
Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
3. Defending the powerless.
4. Praying for someone.
Matthew 5:14-16 NIV
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.