I want to bring you to two passages today from our reading. The first passage is Hebrews 11 and the second is James 2:14-26. Hebrews 11 is sometimes referred to as the Hall of Faith, and James 2:14-26 can cause trouble for some people with the idea of a works based salvation. So I want us to dive into these passages together.
In Hebrews 11 we see a definition of faith, and we see many examples of faith throughout from the Old Testament. When we look into examples of faith given, there is always action that accompanies this faith. The one thing we have to keep in mind is that it was not the action that “gained God’s approval” (Hebrews 11:39), but rather it was their faith. The faith is the motivator for action, and I would even say that genuine faith always produces movement or action. Throughout Hebrews 11 we see active faith, which produces action, and now I want to take us to James 2.
In James 2, we James saying that faith without works is dead. He asks some thought provoking questions about faith, asking if faith without works can save someone? He answers this by saying faith without works is dead or useless, and that even the Demons believe that God is one, and they shudder. When looking at this one could wonder if James is saying that ultimately we are then saved by our works. This is not what he is saying, but what he is saying is that true faith will produce works. If we truly believe and have faith in Christ we are transformed, and we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. In all the examples of faith we are given from the Old Testament in Hebrews 11, there was obviously a belief in who God is, but there is also an action that comes along with that, thus showing that faith is not stagnant, but that there is movement and action involved.
In just reading through Romans, we know that we are justified and saved by faith, and not works, that no one may boast. Christ did the saving on the cross, and our faith in that saves us, but that faith is not inactive or passive, it is active and produces fruit, it transforms us. Take some time this week to read through Matthew 25:31-46, and contemplate what faith looks like. When I read this along with James 2, it brings me to believe that these works are a natural out-flowing from the believer, not done under obligation, but compulsion from our love for Christ, so much so that we do not even realizing we are doing them. Have you been transformed by the outpouring of grace from God? Is your faith active? Do you “perform” works out of obligation (or guilt) or out of compulsion for your love of Christ?
Thanks for reading,