Demonstrating Our Faith
We are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8). Without it, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). But what is saving faith? How is it manifested? James answers these questions in chapter 2 of his letter.
Faith is belief or trust. However, saving faith goes beyond what we believe. Even demons believe the truth about God (vv. 19-20). Faith must be proclaimed, and that requires more than saying one has it (vv. 14-18). What, then, is the real demonstration of faith? James answers by pointing to the cases of Abraham and Rahab.
First, saving faith takes God at His word. Abraham found God’s promises hard to believe, and some of His commands surely seemed difficult. Nevertheless, Abraham remembered who God is and took Him at His word (Romans 4:17-21).
Second, saving faith acts. It does what God commands. James says Abraham’s faith was perfected or completed when he obeyed God’s command to offer up Isaac (v. 22). That act fulfilled the Scripture which said Abraham believed God. Note that he believed God, not just in God.
Third, saving faith acts because of what God said. One might do something God says to do but not because God said it. He does what he wants to do, and it just happens to coincide with God’s will. For example, an atheist might be generous to the poor. No matter what we do, it is not an act of faith when we are self-directed. In that case it is simply an action which coincidentally is also what God calls for.
Fourth, saving faith acts upon God’s will, even when it is difficult. Is there a better example than Abraham? Make no mistake: one who rejects commands that are disagreeable has little conviction about God’s word, all his claims to the contrary notwithstanding. He demonstrates more faith in his own wisdom than in God’s.
Finally, saving faith does what God says, regardless of who else does or does not. Rahab illustrates this point. All at Jericho knew of God’s power and feared (Joshua 2:9-11), yet she alone acted upon that conviction.
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (v. 26). Do you have saving faith?