July 15, 2021

The Full Expression of Your Faith... The Book of James Bible Series


Hey there!  We are back with another installment in our Book of James Bible Series! I'm like a broken record, but I have every --ok, not 'every' - but many!?-- intentions of writing in between these bi-monthly posts, and yet... I haven't quite found myself sitting in this chair ready to tap out words! It's a strange but blessed and full season and yet I'm confident I will find myself back in this seat again soon! Until then, we will just plan on continuing to meet right here, every two weeks! (Even when I consider not meeting here every two weeks --God is still the boss of me and He has some plans He just won't back off from, I suppose!)

So here we are...ready to dig into 
James Chapter 2, verses 18-26! 

Let's read it together here, starting with The Passion Translation Bible:

"But someone might object and say, “One person has faith and another person has works.” Go ahead then and prove to me that you have faith without works and I will show you faith by my works as proof that I believe. You can believe all you want that there is one true God, that’s wonderful! But even the demons know this and tremble with fear before him, yet they’re unchanged—they remain demons.

O feeble sons of Adam, do you need further evidence that faith divorced from good works is phony? Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham found righteous before God because of his works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? Can’t you see how his action cooperated with his faith and by his action faith found its full expression? So in this way the Scripture was fulfilled: Because Abraham believed God, his faith was exchanged for God’s righteousness.

So he became known as the lover of God! So now it’s clear that a person is seen as righteous in God’s eyes not merely by faith alone, but by his works.

And the same is true of the prostitute named Rahab who was found righteous in God’s eyes by her works, for she received the spies into her home and helped them escape from the city by another route. For just as a human body without the spirit is a dead corpse, so faith without the expression of good works is dead!" (The Passion Translation)

Many scholars agree that this is the most difficult verse in all of James and quite possibly in all of the New Testament to translate. As I mentioned in our last post, some feel Paul and James were contradicting each other when it comes to Faith and works but we cleared that up last time! (If you want to re-read that, you can go HERE.) What we do know is James was saying your actions should make your faith known! I love in this translation how, when talking about Abraham, it says 'by his action faith found its full expression' - SO GOOD!  

How is your faith finding its full expression? (My guess is James would say if it is all talk, with little follow-through walk, it's not actually faith --or at least it has not found its FULL expression!)


Let's read it in The Voice:

"I know what you’re thinking: “OK, you have faith. And I have actions. Now let’s see your faith without works, and I’ll show you a faith that works.”  Don’t you realize that faith without works is useless, like a glove without a hand or a hat without a head? Do you think that just believing there’s one God is going to get you anywhere? The demons believe that, too, and it terrifies them! The fact is, faith has to show itself through works performed in faith. If you don’t recognize that, then you’re an empty soul. Wasn’t our father Abraham made right with God by laying his son Isaac on the altar? The faith in his heart was made known in his behavior. In fact, his commitment was perfected by his obedience. That’s what Scripture means when it says, “Abraham entrusted himself to God, and God credited him with righteousness.” And living a faithful life earned Abraham the title of “God’s friend.” Just like our father in the faith, we are made right with God through good works, not simply by what we believe or think. Even Rahab the prostitute was made right with God by hiding the spies and aiding in their escape. Removing action from faith is like removing breath from a body. All you have left is a corpse." (The Voice)

The two portions in this translation that stand out most to me are:
 "The faith in his heart was made known in his behavior." and "Removing action from faith is like removing breath from a body." 

Wow! It's not that this concept is new to us, right? We have all heard of the importance of walking the walk... it's just that it is so often so much easier to just talk the talk and call it good. (Remember... we keep it real here!) But this also begs the question - -what is in your heart that IS made known by your behavior? It would be all too easy to start to judge others or jump to conclusions --but let's keep the focus inward a bit.  

How are you 'acting out' through behavior? Whether it is a knee-jerk reaction or an on purpose response, --whether it is righteous or self-righteous... would onlookers process your behavior and think, "Wow! They must be a believer!"  If we are honest - sometimes, Yes... and sometimes, Not So Much, right?

And "Removing action from faith is like removing breath from a body" is such a powerful visual, I don't think we need to expand much on that one! (Perhaps, though, a bit more introspection may be in order!)

I was reading through a Devotional on James on my YouVersion app, and one of the writers compared our faith life to a body of water, like a lake or a pond. They wrote, "If you are not engaging in regular actions, your faith will become stagnant. It will sit in its own pool of knowledge while the heat of life's frustrations and challenges begin to evaporate the life right out of it."  The daily devotion went on to say, "Actions are the answer to keeping your faith alive; to making sure your expectations find the outflow they need for God to show up big in your circumstances. The good news is that no matter how long your faith has been stagnant, it can be revived. The flow can be restored, and the extraordinary will begin to fill your ordinary." 


Now comes one of my favorite translations: The Message Bible:

"I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”

Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.

Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?

Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham “made right with God by works” when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn’t it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are “works of faith”? The full meaning of “believe” in the Scripture sentence, “Abraham believed God and was set right with God,” includes his action. It’s that weave of believing and acting that got Abraham named “God’s friend.” Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?

The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn’t her action in hiding God’s spies and helping them escape—that seamless unity of believing and doing—what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse." (The Message Bible)

Belief in God alone will not save us. As James points out even the demons believe... (and they are smart enough to tremble at the knowledge.)  

Now, listen Sweet Friends... you know I am all about Jesus and how He is approachable and 'real'  I am loving The Chosen series because it gives Him a sense of humor and comradery - a brotherhood and we know that He is for us and He can handle us at our best and our worst! You also know (at least I hope you do!) that I am all for Grace... I'm a needer of it and an extender of it, too! I have no desire to put myself or anyone else back under the Law.  But this verse always makes me wonder, are we trembling at all like the demons? Do we even 'fear' God anymore?!  

I know. I know... fear is a tricky word and for many generations, we had this impression of an angry vengeful God... a judging Father who could never be appeased.  Like I said, No Thanks in going back to that way of thinking or living! However, I do wonder in all of our making Him more in our own image, if we have lost the reverence and (good) fear/awe that He is due! I am sure the demons still fear Him! They have reason to fear Him, sure... but let's not make Him completely in our own image and likeness and forget that He is God! 

I think the more we match our faith WITH our works, we will not lose sight of this!  We will have opportunities at every turn to see how He partners with us in putting action to our faith and we will see how He shows up and shows off in hopes of winning hearts back - wholly and completely, and transforming lives! I believe we are refilled and refueled when we allow our faith to find its full expression!


Let's pray: 

Father God, we know that every good and perfect gift comes from You! We are so grateful that You have given us a gift of faith... a seed of faith that will grow and grow! Lord, empower and enable us to put our faith to work -not to EARN anything from You, but to partner with You to release the Kingdom!  Help us, Jesus, to follow the example that Your life on earth gave us --to let our words be followed by action! Remind us to keep a healthy reverence for You and for Your Name... help us not take anything for granted, or make assumptions that are not based on Your Word! Let Grace and Love flow freely as we partner with you and with the Bride to make Your Name famous, Lord! Let everything we do be done in love and be the full expression of our faith walked out! Let our actions match up to the words we say and let our lives be lived out loud in a way that points others (back) to You!  

Holy Spirit, inspire our words to testify of the goodness of God and let our works do the same! Help us to not be double-minded in speech or action! I pray You will help us to be who we are --who You made us to be -- consistently, wherever we go! 

And as always, Lord... help us to be Carriers of Your Presence and Releasers of Your Grace!  

For the King and His Kingdom, 

In Jesus' Name!

I am loving going through this Book every so slowly! I hope you are enjoying it, too!

Lastly, I feel like, by now,  if you are here - you are here on purpose! However, if you somehow just happened upon us or if you missed a post along the way, you can always go HERE and scroll to the bottom to find each installment of this series as it is published!

As always, until next time, let's purpose to:

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