The Way

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Summary

When tragedy strikes, we like to send the suffering our “thoughts and prayers.” It’s almost as if we think our prayers are magical wishes. By saying a few words, God will appear out of a bottle and make things right.

But, in reality, sending “thoughts and prayers” does nothing but make us feel better. It boosts our own ego and doesn’t really help those facing the tragedy.

But, we’re religious, you might say, praying is what we do! Well, James doesn’t agree.

For him, being religious is putting your faith into action. It’s walking the Way by being merciful to those who are in need of mercy.

For James, faith alone is not enough. It’s faith with works that counts. To truly be religious, we have to understand what is meant by “faith” and by “works.”

Whereas some Christians may thinking it’s a boxing match between the two—and they’re placing their bet on a knockout by faith—James shows us that they must co-exist.

The Bottom Line: Faith without works is dead.

Show Notes

James 2:18-26

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. (NRSV)

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works. You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that—and tremble with fear.
But would you like evidence, you empty fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And similarly, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (NETS)

Yet someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” You show me your faith without the works, and I will show you faith by my works. You have faith that God is one? You are doing well. Even the daemonic beings have that faith, and they tremble. But are you willing to recognize, O you inane man, that faith without works yields nothing? Was not our father Abraham made righteous by works, offering up his own son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? You see that faith cooperated with his works, and by the works the faith was brought to completion, And the scripture was fulfilled: “And Abraham had faith in God, and it was accounted to righteousness on his part,” and he was called a friend of God. You see that a human being is made righteous by works, and not by faith alone. And, likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also made righteous by works, sheltering the messengers and sending them forth by a different path? For just as the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (David Bentley Hart)

But supposing someone says, ‘Well: you have faith, and I have works.’ All right: show me your faith – but without doing any works; and then I will show you my faith, and I’ll do it by my works! You believe that ‘God is one’? Well and good! The demons believe that, too, and they tremble! Do you want to know, you stupid person, that faith without works is lifeless? Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by his works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You can see from this that faith was cooperating along with the works, and the faith reached its fulfilment through the works. That is how the scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’, and he was called ‘God’s friend’. So you see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she gave shelter to the spies and sent them off by another road? Just as the body without the spirit is dead, you see, so faith without works is dead. (N.T. Wright)

Ἀλλʼ ἐρεῖ τις· σὺ πίστιν ἔχεις, κἀγὼ ἔργα ἔχω· δεῖξόν μοι τὴν πίστιν oσου ⸀χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων⸆, κἀγώ ⸉σοι δείξω⸊ ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου τὴν πίστιν ⸇. σὺ πιστεύεις ὅτι ⸂εἷς ἐστιν ὁ θεός⸃, καλῶς ποιεῖς· καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια πιστεύουσιν καὶ φρίσσουσιν.
Θέλεις δὲ γνῶναι, ὦ ἄνθρωπε κενέ, ὅτι ἡ πίστις χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων ⸀ἀργή ἐστιν; Ἀβραὰμ ὁ πατὴρ ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων ἐδικαιώθη ἀνενέγκας Ἰσαὰκ τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον; βλέπεις ὅτι ἡ πίστις ⸀συνήργει τοῖς ἔργοις αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἔργων ⸆ ἡ πίστις ἐτελειώθη, καὶ ἐπληρώθη ἡ γραφὴ ἡ λέγουσα· ἐπίστευσεν oδὲ Ἀβραὰμ τῷ θεῷ, καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην καὶ ⸀φίλος θεοῦ ἐκλήθη. ὁρᾶτε ⸆ ὅτι ἐξ ἔργων δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος καὶ οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως μόνον. ⸂ὁμοίως δὲ⸃ καὶ Ῥαὰβ ἡ πόρνη οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων ἐδικαιώθη ὑποδεξαμένη τοὺς ⸀ἀγγέλους καὶ ἑτέρᾳ ὁδῷ ἐκβαλοῦσα; ὥσπερ oγὰρ τὸ σῶμα χωρὶς ⸆ πνεύματος νεκρόν ἐστιν, οὕτως καὶ ἡ πίστις χωρὶς ⸇ ἔργων νεκρά ἐστιν.


What is The Way?

Fr. Dustin Lyon explores scripture to rediscover Christianity so that we can walk in the Way of the Lord.