Grace and Works
James tells us that, “Even so, faith without works is dead being alone” (James 2:17). The first thing we need to establish is that man is saved by grace plus NOTHING!
What is needed is for us to understand first of all why we need grace and then we can be able to see grace and walk in the assurance it gives us.
We are born into sin and the wages of sin is death. All of us are sinners for we all fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23; 6:23). That is it. Because of man’s disobedience to God, we have been sentenced to die. There is nothing we can do in and of ourselves to improve upon this situation. We cannot save ourselves! Why? Because the Bible says that in order to be saved we have to be perfect as God is perfect. We sin, we fall short, all of us!
This knowledge does not keep us from trying to earn salvation. We find ourselves praying harder, attending more church services and bible studies. We help the poor, feed the hungry, but we do it when we can if we can, and only if we really want to. These are examples of “works of the flesh” and everybody can do works of the flesh. Depend on works and you will never have the assurance of your salvation!!!
Paul says in Romans, “We are not saved by works” (Rom 4:2, 5, and 6). What we come to find out when we dig deeper is that Paul and James are saying the same thing but from different perspectives.
Paul is talking about justification to God and James is talking about justification to men. We are justified to God by faith and we are justified by men through works. Paul talks of the faith that is underground, unseen where James is talking about fruit above ground, seen. So what are dead faith signs that we can see? If faith for us is discerned by fruit above ground, what can we see that shows faith is dead like James is speaking of?
- Dead faith has no compassion for others.
Lip service will not get you to heaven. Real faith moves your spirit to help others.
- Dead faith has no communion with God.
Satan believes in God. He believes full well that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God. But he will never submit or commune with God. He knows Him, believes in Him and Hates Him. True faith wants to abide in Christ and rest in the Lord.
- Dead faith has no real conversion (change).
Real faith changes our minds, actions and desires; putting a new song in our hearts.
Saving faith produces works! Abraham showed us his faith in his willingness to sacrifice Isaac. Rehab showed us her faith by laying her life on the line and taking a risk. A body acts because it has life and this action is moved by God’s grace. This is the grace we are offered. This is the grace that moves into the lives of others, gives us the desire to abide in Christ, and walk in God’s purposes for our lives.
Pastor, Jim Bringman