Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 258/260: James, the Brother of Jesus

Read James 2:14-26

Faith Only?

“Faith only” is a reckless doctrine promoted by too many so-called Christian churches. This doctrine is patently false, as seen in James 2:14-26. James declares, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). This is the only time in the entire Bible that the words “faith” and “only” appear together, and James plainly states that justification cannot be found in a person by “faith only.”

James builds up to this point first by presenting a hypothetical situation in which a person is made aware of someone else’s need. If you do nothing for that person but wish them well, can you truly say you have faith? If you have the means to help but only offer “thoughts and prayers,” have you offered anything of substance? Certainly, prayer is important (James 5:16)! But physical needs still must be met!

James next points to the example of Abraham, who was “justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar” (James 2:21). Could the patriarch have been justified if he had not been willing to obey God? “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” (James 2:22).

Let us be very careful that we do not try to teach something that the Bible clearly states is false doctrine. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26).

If your faith is defined by nothing more than attendance to a Sunday morning worship service, is it true faith? Assembling with the church is important, make no mistake about that, but there is so much more to Christianity than sitting in a pew for an hour or two in a 168-hour week! “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Are you working for the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58)? Are you doing good things for other people (Galatians 6:10)? Are you shining your light and pointing others to the Christ who can save them (Matthew 5:16)?

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