James 2:14 – What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?
Some have thought James preached a different Gospel than that of Paul. Paul laid the foundation of believing faith throughout his letters. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). How do we reconcile what James says with Paul’s teaching?
There is a difference between saying you have faith and actually demonstrating that faith. I knew a man some years ago that evidenced a knowledge of Scripture. He told me he believed the Bible, but his life did not demonstrate a “believing faith.” Saying “I have faith” is one thing, but living that faith is totally another. The evidence of faith should be expected from one who says “I have faith.” As we grow in faith a greater demonstration of our faith will be evidenced.
Paul taught, “God saved us, not on the basis of works which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy” (Titus 3:5). Redemption came through Jesus Christ and His sacrificial work. We had nothing whatsoever to do with that work. He went to the cross for you and me while we were dead in our trespasses and sins. All that is required of us is to receive what Christ has accomplished. What James is addressing in his letter is the attitude that all I need to do is to say “I have faith.” Saying it and believing it are two totally different spheres. Believing what Christ has done will produce a demonstration of faith. Do others know your faith by what you say or by what you do?
It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the ability to believe. He grants the gift of repentance. He reveals to us the need for the work of Christ to be applied to our lives. He regenerates us, causing the life of Christ to be lived out through us. Through believing faith, we can be filled with the Holy Spirit daily and live out Christ’s life, demonstrating faith by our works. Trust Christ totally for your salvation through the work of His cross. Don’t talk about your faith; demonstrate your faith by allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you in serving others.
In this season of the year, there will be many works of good deeds toward others. It is the “Spirit of Christmas” to give! All that giving is not related to personal salvation. On the other hand, the true believer should be in the forefront of giving. There are many opportunities to allow your faith to operate in the Christmas season. Some examples are to help feed the homeless, taking gifts to the children of prisoners through Angel Tree Ministry, and sharing thoughtful gifts with your neighbors. Perhaps you will also be able to speak of your faith and help another receive the greatest gift in their life, Christ the Lord.
Father, I thank You for sending Your Son to die in my place. My faith is centered in all You have done in Christ. I ask for the Holy Spirit to fill me with Your life. Cause me to demonstrate saving faith by works pleasing to You.