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Okay, for clarification regarding “faith through works” I added the following section below the section “Salvation by Faith”. Thanks again Burt! 🙂
Faith Perfected by Works
So if we are judged by faith and not by works, are we to believe that no works at all, are necessary? Seems even some of the early Christians started to mistakenly conclude that simply “having faith” would save them. So much so, that the Apostle James felt it necessary to adjust their thinking:
Of what benefit is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but he does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it? If a brother or a sister is lacking clothing and enough food for the day, yet one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but you do not give them what they need for their body, of what benefit is it? So, too, faith by itself, without works, is dead. (James 2:14—17)
Interestingly, James uses the example of an immoral woman — Rahab the prostitute — to sound down his argument:
You see that a man is to be declared righteous by works and not by faith alone. In the same manner, was not Rahab the prostitute also declared righteous by works after she received the messengers hospitably and sent them out by another way? Indeed, just as the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:24—26)
Speaking of Rahab, the Apostle Paul demonstrates how Rahab’s faith saved her, and lists her with other outstanding examples of faith:
By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who acted disobediently, because she received the spies in a peaceable way. (Hebrews 11:31)
Yet, at the time that she acted on her faith, Rahab — strikingly similar to our Samaritan at the well — was also an immoral woman. Yet neither of these women can be said to have “lived up to their dedication”. Neither were keeping the Law, nor were they offering sacrifices at the temple. If it were today, they studied no books, nor had they attended any meetings — yet their faith was recognized by both Jesus and Jehovah! And perhaps Jesus was alluding to the Samaritan woman who gave him a drink, when he said:
“And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water to drink because he is a disciple, I tell you truly, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Matt 10:42)
Interestingly, the Word of God being alive, in Jehovah’s eyes, Rahab is still counted among those living in the Household of God today:
Only Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her were spared by Joshua; and she lives in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent out to spy on Jericho. (Joshua 6:25)
Since those without Law were considered righteous, does that mean we have no responsibility towards God’s laws? No! As the Apostle Paul told the Jews:
True, God has overlooked the times of such ignorance; but now he is declaring to all people everywhere that they should repent. Because he has set a day on which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has provided a guarantee to all men by resurrecting him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30—31)
So again, we come to the crux of the matter: When we truly see that we cannot earn our righteousness, and that we must instead turn to Christ in repentance over our sinful state, that is when faith is truly born! And then true works — motivated not by need to absolve ourselves of our sin — but out of love bursting from an appreciative heart, perfect our faith.
James gives us the outstanding example of Abraham, whose faith was perfected by his love. For he was motivated by the same love Jehovah had for him:
Was not Abraham our father declared righteous by works after he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that his faith was active along with his works and his faith was perfected by his works, and the scripture was fulfilled that says: “Abraham put faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness”. (James 2:21-23)
Wow. No wonder he came to be called “Jehovah’s friend”! (Isaiah 41:8)
Lastly, Paul warns us not to judge another Christian’s faith:
Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for Jehovah can make him stand. One man judges one day as above another; another judges one day the same as all others; let each one be fully convinced in his own mind.
The one who observes the day observes it to Jehovah. Also, the one who eats, eats to Jehovah, for he gives thanks to God; and the one who does not eat does not eat to Jehovah, and yet gives thanks to God. Not one of us, in fact, lives with regard to himself only, and no one dies with regard to himself only. For if we live, we live to Jehovah, and if we die, we die to Jehovah. So both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah. For to this end Christ died and came to life again, so that he might be Lord over both the dead and the living.
But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you also look down on your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says Jehovah, ‘to me every knee will bend, and every tongue will make open acknowledgment to God.’” So, then, each of us will render an account for himself to God. (Romans 14:2-12)