Faith Revealed by Works

​September 18, 2021

In the New Testament, the Book of James is one that doesn’t sit quite right with some believers. (In fact, Martin Luther himself preferred it not be included in the Cannon at all. Reason being he felt that the Book of James conflicted far too much with Paul's letter to the Romans.)  And this perceived conflict is an unfortunate thing, too.  It is sad in my view because many look at what James writes and miss the point. Some believe James is promoting works as more important than faith in one’s relationship with God, and that James was implying that one's works apart from faith alone could bring one in right standing with God. Personally, I believe that understanding is very, very far from the truth.  Works are simply the visual, physical evidence of faith that cannot be seen in and of itself. It is true, works of love, compassion, kindness and selfishness are good things all disciples of Christ should strive for. But, faith without works is no less powerful, no less genuine, no less a gift from God. Such faith is just not as readily apparent to the carnal eye without the visual evidence of works.  So it is as James writes, faith without works is dead. And yes, it is, it is dead in the sense that pure and spiritual personal faith cannot, most times, be seen by one uninitiated in the concept of true faith. The unconverted frequently come to the awareness of faith (that belief in things unseen -- Hebrews 11.1) without first seeing in action someone who has already received the gift of faith and demonstrate it in physical works.  So yes, I too believe that faith without works is dead. It is dead not to the one who has faith, but dead as an enabling witness to those seeking the same.

Jesus told us that his disciples, his followers, would be recognized by their fruits. Our good works are the fruits of discipleship that a physical world needs to see -- a thing which is seen so as to enable belief in the unseen. James is correct; our unseeable faith is dead regards revealing the faithfulness of God without first producing seeable fruits -- good works. And so, let us all pray to be enabled to produce fruit from our faith. Let all know we are Christians by the works of our faith!

Mark Johnson

Lay Leader NSUMC