“Faith With And Without Works”

Faith With And Without Works

(Jam. 2:14-26)

Wade Webster

The whole second chapter of James is about faith. It begins with the faith of Jesus and ends with the faith of Abraham and Rahab. In the first half of the chapter, James discusses faith with and without respect of persons. I n the last half of the chapter, James discusses faith with and without works. Our focus will be on the second part of the chapter. First, we will discuss faith without works. Then, we will see faith with works.

Faith Without Works - Dead & Demonic

Three times James describes faith without works as dead (Jam. 2:17, 20, 26). You might say that faith without works is dead, dead, dead. It is “twice dead, pulled up by the roots” dead (Jude 12). It is body without the spirit dead. James wrote, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (Jam. 2:26). It is Eutychus falling out of a third-story window dead (Acts 20:9). James calls it dead because it doesn’t do anything. It just lies there. There isn’t any breath or life in it. There isn’t a heartbeat. The cold aren’t made warmer and the hungry aren’t made any fuller. It talks, but it doesn’t do (Jam. 2:15-16; Lk. 6:46). Just when you think that faith without works couldn’t get any worse, James calls it demonic. We read, “But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:18-19). Like the demons, this faith trembles, but it doesn’t do anything (Mt. 8:28-29). There aren’t any works to show. Like the demons, this faith knows and acknowledges whoJesus is, but won’t obey Him as Lord.

Faith With Works - Dynamic

In contrast to a dead and demonic faith that doesn’t do anything but talk and tremble, James discusses a dynamic faith that is full of activity. It toils or works. It travels for days, climbs mountains, builds altars, and draws back the knife of sacrifice. It hides spies, lowers ropes, and keeps promises. To illustrate this kind of faith, James gives two examples - Abraham and Rahab. We read, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?” (Jam. 2:21-25). Two more opposite examples could not have been given. Abraham was a man and Rahab was a woman. Abraham was a patriarch and Rahab was a prostitute. Abraham was a heir according to promise and Rahab was spared from among the Canaanites. However, they had the most important thing in common - a dynamic faith. Abraham’s faith didn’t just talk. It toiled. It offered his son (Gen. 22:1-19; Heb. 11:17-19). Rahab’s faith didn’t just tremble. It toiled. It hid the spies (Josh. 2:1-21; Heb. 11:31).

Faith without works is dead and demonic. This faith talks and trembles. Faith with works is dynamic. It toils. Which faith do we have?