THE STORY OF THE EARLY CHURCH
Verses preaching the "Gospel of Jesus"
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34.1 FAITH WITHOUT CHRISTIAN ACTION IS USELESS
- Part of the way through this practical letter on such subjects as the Trials of life, Wealth, Temptation, Snobbery, the "Tongue" etc, James teaches the importance of demonstrating the reality of Christian faith by the way Christians live:
James 2:14-26 - ... what use is it, my brothers, for a man to say he "has faith" if his actions do not correspond with it? Could that sort of faith save anyone's soul? If a fellow man or woman has no clothes to wear and nothing to eat, and one of you say, "Good luck to you I hope you'll keep warm and find enough to eat", and yet give them nothing to meet their physical needs, what on earth is the good of that? Yet that is exactly what a bare faith without a corresponding life is like - useless and dead. If we only "have faith" a man could easily challenge us by saying, "you say that you have faith and I have merely good actions. Well, all you can do is to show me a faith without corresponding actions, but I can show you by my actions that I have faith as well."
To the man who thinks that faith by itself is enough I feel inclined to say, "So you believe that there is one God? That's fine. So do all the devils in hell and shudder in terror!" For, my dear short-sighted man, can't you see far enough to realise that faith without the right actions is dead and useless? Think of Abraham, our ancestor. Wasn't it his action which really justified him in God's sight when his faith led him to offer his son Isaac on the altar? (Genesis 22) Can't you see that his faith and his actions were, so to speak, partners - that his faith was implemented by his deed? That is what the scripture means when it say:
'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness' (Genesis 15:6).
And he was called the friend of God
A man is justified before God by what he does as well as by what he believes. Rahab who was a prostitute and a foreigner has been quoted as an example of faith, yet surely it was her action that pleased God, when she welcomed Joshua's reconnoitring party and got them safely back by a different route.
Yes, faith without action is as dead as a body without a soul.
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J.B.Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition, published by HarperCollins, is presented here with the kind permission of Mrs Vera Phillips and the J.B.Phillips estate
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