Bible Reading: James 2.18-20
But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? James 2:18-20
When reading the book of James, it might seem at first glance to be introducing a new kind of “works based” salvation. As Paul would say, May it never be! (Romans 6:2). The Bible clearly teaches that salvation comes by faith alone in Christ alone. And even faith itself is the result of God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and not something we can muster up on our own.
What James is really challenging us to do here is examine our faith. If we claim to have faith in the risen Lord, but it doesn’t show up our in lives, then something is very amiss. The real contrast presented here is not so much faith vs. works as it is, faith vs. faith. Do we have a living, fruit producing, saving faith or a dead, lip service only, useless faith? It’s sobering to consider that demons are more or less doctrinally sound in their beliefs about the existence and nature of God. This drives home the point that good theology and sound doctrine alone will not save us.
In John 15:5, Jesus paints a picture of Himself as the vine and his followers as the fruit bearing branches. James challenges all of us who claim to be Christ followers to ask ourselves, Where’s my fruit? This is how a tree is truly known (Luke 6:43).
Weekly Memory Verse: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12.2