James writes about a genuine faith that produces an obedient and fruitful life and contrasts it with a dead and lifeless faith. He uses strong terminology in addressing those who are mistaken on these points: “Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” (2:20) Whoa, a strong word, here: “foolish.” How can you possibly think that . . .
A mere statement of affection is real w/o demonstration?
A mere claim to be a millionaire makes it so?
A mere assertion of exercise turns me into Mr. Universe?
A mere declaration makes my old car new?
A mere claim to be age 29 actually turns back the years?
A mere contention that it’s a duck though it barks?
As a well-know politician might respond: “C’mon man!” What we do and how we live tells the real story. Abraham was “justified by works,” that is he was “vindicated,” i.e., “shown to be righteous” by the way he lived (Romans 4). Rahab’s experience teaches the very same lesson. She was approved by the spies when they saw her actions. So many examples! And, so, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (2:26). Kent Hughes offers a good summary: “Salvation is by faith alone! Salvation is by a faith that is not alone!” Oh, to have lives that, through our actions and deeds, show that we are genuinely children of God!
More like Jesus would I be,
Let my Savior dwell with me;
Fill my soul with peace and love,
Make me gentle as a dove;
More like Jesus, while I go,
Pilgrim in this world below;
Poor in spirit would I be;
Let my Savior dwell in me. --Fanny Crosby (1868)