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“Show Me Your Faith!”

One weekend a few months ago I was accused of being an antinomian. The very next day I was accused of being a legalist. You might think I’d feel good about that since being in the middle of this controversy would feel like safe ground. However, I don’t believe that the truth lies in the middle.

James says, “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18, ESV). Some have said that James comes close to slipping into a works-righteousness gospel. This of course is not true. James is inspired by the same Holy Spirit who inspired Paul when he wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8, ESV). We are saved only by grace, and this grace is appropriated only by faith and not by any acts of merit we perform. It is the perfect work of Christ that makes me clean in God’s sight (Rom. 10:8).

What is James’ message, then, when he says, “I will show you my faith by my works”? We miss the point when we think that faith is a matter of the mind alone. It is a matter of the heart (Rom. 10:10). The heart is the premier biblical designation for the center of the human personality—where our physical, emotional, spiritual, cognitive, and aesthetic aspects come together. Therefore, the reality of our faith is expressed not only in what we say, but also in how we feel, what we do, how we think, and of course, how we worship. This truth is anchored in the fact that redemption is the mighty work of God to reverse the awful effects of the Fall. True faith will impact all aspects of our heart and being. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, so they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16, ESV). Paul tells Titus that there are some who declare faith but they deny Christ by their works (Titus 1:16).

We should ask ourselves what kind of faith our actions illustrate. What would those closest to us say? What would you ask the Holy Spirit to help you change in order to exhibit a deeper faith in Christ?  Examine your heart, your thoughts, your feelings, and yes, your actions. How can this help grow your faith?

Paul Kooistra, Reflection Jun 6, 2014
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