14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
We have been looking at the aspect of confession by faith. Confession means agreeing with something. It is not necessary to constantly say that we are dust, worm and other negative things. Our confession should be of Jesus Christ, what He means to us and does for us.
Confession is important because often it is the only corresponding action for faith.
James chapter 2 talks about faith without works. The word works is often misconstrued. During the era of Reformation, the Reformers were unsure of how to treat the book of James. In Romans 4, Paul stated that Abraham was not saved by works but by his faith. But James said otherwise. He said that Abraham was not saved by faith but by works. These teachings sounded exactly opposite to each other. Martin Luther and other Reformers believed in justification by faith alone and the book of James appeared to be contradicting that.
But the word ‘Works’ in James, does not mean acts/works unto salvation. Works is referred to faith having corresponding action. James believes that the faith which saves is where we can see action. Faith is an act. It means acting on God’s word. It is not mere mental assent. We believe and we act.
Some people’s faith is only mental. They are Christians in their mind. They believe in Jesus, his birth, death on the Cross, resurrection, the Holy Spirit and also the Church. However, their actions will not show any proof to that belief. James says that true faith can be seen in action.
Examples of corresponding action to faith
1) We believe in healing. I have seen many people preach it and being healed. Sometimes, though, it’s erroneously applied. Some people say that ‘if I really believe in healing and that Jesus is Healer, then I should stop taking medicines’. My grandmother used to subscribe to that idea. She never visited a doctor for any ailment. I remember a time when she fell seriously sick. I suggested going to a doctor. She told me, ‘Get thee behind me Satan’. A lot of people are like that.
However, when we say that Jesus is our healer, our corresponding action mustn’t be stopping medicines. In fact, it should be our confession that Jesus is our healer. We can consult a doctor and follow his instructions. But meanwhile we must confess that Jesus will heal us and satisfy us with long life. We should say that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the death and lives in us will quicken our mortal bodies.
That is the only corresponding action we can give right at that point.
We show Jesus by opening our mouth and speaking about Him every day. We speak the Word and the promises concerning our healing. Anything else is foolishness.
2) Financial needs – Many people hear sermons on the verses that Jesus supplies all our needs according to His riches in Jesus. So, they will say since our God is a God of miracles I am going to issue someone a cheque of Rs. 20,000/-. By the time it is deposited, God will put that amount of money in the bank. Well, I’d call it a fake cheque. We can’t write a cheque without money in the bank. That’d be foolish faith.
James says that if a brother or sister comes to us, hungry, cold and without proper clothing, it wouldn’t be right for us turn them away. We must not tell him or her that God will supply all their needs but do nothing about it. James says that we should share from our clothes, and plate of food. These are very practical and simple things. We shouldn’t limit it to writing fake cheques and stopping medicines.
Faith’s corresponding action can only be confession.
…to be continued…