In our last article we started an “Introduction to faith” and discussed and studied exactly what faith is from a biblical standpoint. In the second part of this series, we will be looking at what faith by works means and how does it relate to us. Our reference verse will be James 2:18 which states, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have works.’ Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” We will discuss and study how we can have faith by works and how good deeds “prove our faith”. Then in part three we will look at examples of this “working faith”.
That last sentence sound familiar doesn’t it? It says the exact same thing that James 2:18 says, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have works.’ Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” This is true. As we talked about last week, anyone can have faith. Anyone can trust or believe in whatever their hearts desire. But it is the works and the deeds that we do that prove our faith.
We can also take the action of being a light to the world and tie it in with faith being produced by works. To be the “light” Jesus talked about during the sermon on the mount, (Matthew 5:14-16) we can’t just believe in God. We need to have a faith that shines out into the world, so that everyone can follow Jesus. The good works we do show the faith we have in Christ. Speaking out into the world and not being afraid of persecution proves a strong faith. Now, i’m not saying that we have to travel the world and preach the gospel to foreign countries or anything like that. But simply just being an example, a faithful servant of Christ can result in a strong faith that others will notice. A faith without works is dead and we can’t show a light that is all burnt out. Our faith has to be shown by works and a stronger faith leads to a brighter light.
Now, don’t think that our works make us righteous in the eyes of God, because they don’t. Neither does faith alone. It takes both faith and good works working together.
James 2:26 says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.” Anyone can claim they are Christians and they can go to church and do all this other stuff that seems “godly”. But their works and actions disprove their claim (Titus 1:16). If we do not have the “true faith” in God, we will not change our lives to be more like Christ. True and unfailing faith comes when we are baptized into Christ, when we come up from the waters we are a new creation. Baptizing is more than just ‘a washing away of sins’. It’s the life that you take after it that matters too. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us we are a new creation in Christ. That means our faith must be proven by our works.
Another point that can be made here lies in 1 Corinthians 13:2. Here Paul is telling the people in Corinth that you can have a faith large enough to ‘move a mountain’ but without love it means nothing. As he states, “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” What Paul is saying here is not contrary to what James says about faith and works by any stretch of the imagination. He is simply giving another view on the subject of “Faith alone is meaningless”. James says that faith needs works, Paul says that faith needs love. Both are true. How? It is simply saying that the works we do need to come out of love. As with all things, everything a Christian does needs to come out of love and compassion. Paul says straight out in 1 Corinthians 16:14 “Do everything in love.” It’s a simple yet difficult command to do yet it is commanded from us that we do it.
So, in conclusion of our study here is what’s most important, Faith is not good enough. Good works are not good enough. But faith shown by good works is just what the commander ordered. We cannot have a dead faith. We are dead to sin, but alive in Christ. (Romans 6:11)