October 26, 2011

Thursday after the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 49, 1 Kings 19:1-8, James 2:14-26
Evening - Ps. 73, Job 21:7-33, Mt. 15:1-20

Commentary
James 2:14-26

Many have thought James teaches salvation by works instead of salvation by grace. Verses 21-25 are the primary verses upon which they base their view. But the point James makes is not that Abraham and Rahab earned Heaven for by doing good works; it is that real, Biblical faith results in good works as naturally as being an apple tree results in apples. James is writing about what Paul calls being transformed (Rom. 12:2), becoming a new kind of creature (2 Cor. 5:17), and sanctification, or becoming more Godly (1 Thess. 4:3). It is the opposite of the mere assent to facts and doctrines, which even devils know (2:19). It is being moved out of knowing about God and into actively doing His will.

If our faith does not express itself in good works (2:18), our faith is dead (2:17, and 20). In other words, if your faith (assent to Christian doctrine) does not move you to faithfulness (seeking to live a Godly life), it is not Christian faith in the Biblical sense at all. It is a corpse, a body without a soul (2:26). So James is trying to tell us to move beyond intellectual belief to love and obedience of God. We do not do good works in order to be saved; we do them because we are saved.

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