Summary: To prove that Biblical faith is an obedient, active faith; thus, Christians must “show their faith by their works.”
Faith and Works: Complimentary or Contradictory?
Thesis: To prove that Biblical faith is an obedient, active faith; thus, Christians must “show their
faith by their works.”
(1) There are those who would contend that “faith alone” is what saves an individual.
(a) Martin Luther made famous those words in reaction against RCC.
(c) Thus, Luther disliked and tried to discredit the epistle of James.
(2) Still, what is to be of passages that “seem” to express the idea of faith alone?
(a) “Therefore being justified by faith […]” (Rom. 5.1).
(b) “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Eph. 2.8-9).
(c) Well, what is to be said about those passages that express that faith alone is not sufficient?
(1) “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven” (Matt. 7.21).
(3) Is there a contradiction in the ideas or do they complement each other?
(4) Let us see what James tells us.
A. James notes the case of someone in need and that just wishing that the person in need would not do the one in need any good.
B. We see this in terms of helping others.
1. It is easy to say the words and not mean them.
2. Actions speak louder than words and demonstrate what we truly mean.
b. The point is that we do what we mean to say.
1. How do you know if someone has a true faith in God (v. 18)?
a. James tells us that the way to know is to judge what the person is doing.
b. Likewise, in order for us to show men that we have true faith, then we must live it.
B. The best definition of faith I’ve heard is “a joyful trust in the Lord conjoined with obedience.”
1. The “works” in no way take away from the unmerited grace extended to mankind by God Almighty.
a. This point is undeniably clear: God loved us “while we were yet sinners” (Rom. 5.6-8).
b. We do not do anything to earn our salvation.
2. Nevertheless, the “works” is first the acceptance of the free gift and then second the continually proper response to that gift.
A. James utilizes two illustrations to help bring home this point.