Which one is true:
James said, show me your faith apart from your works and I will show you my faith by my works.
Paul said by grace we are saved through faith and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.
So which one is true? Both are true, both are true in different senses.
Martin Luther had issues with the writing of James. He was a “by grace by grace” kind of person.
But we need to give James some credit for drawing our attention to the power of faith being beyond a positional reality.
If we reduce faith to mere positional reality then we would not have faith in what having faith can do. We would not extend the limits of our potential in the faith deposit. We would not make demand on it as we should.
We have all received a measure of faith. But the faith is not stagnant, it is impressive and expressive, it is should therefore be active.
You cannot express what is not impressed and you would express it if it impressed but the expression might be limited by the understanding or misunderstanding, training, instructions in its expression or lack of it.
Paul, hinting at that said that there is a way to walk and please God. And without faith it is impossible to please God and “the just shall live by faith.” All these show that there is a faith expression.
So I say faith changes you because it connects you with the grace of God.
By grace you are saved through faith. The faith connects us with the grace and that is what changes us. It is what takes us beyond the limits in which our native ability, sense, upbringing, experience can take us.
When we approach things from the angle of faith, it means we approach it from the angle of what the word of God has said, believing that what He said is true.
What you believe will always be backed by action, as Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
You don’t truly believe until you act on what you believe.
When Eve stopped believing that the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil will lead to death, she ate the fruit and it led to death. You don’t truly believe until it changes how you behave.
Faith is important because it determines action. Abraham had faith and James said it was reflected in his obedience to God. So faith changing you is reflected in your change of action as it connects you with grace, the divine change factor.
But not only does faith change you because it connects you with the grace of God, it also connects you with the righteousness of God.
It becomes the channel for divinity to connect with you and you become a extension of divinity.
It is through faith that we become partakers of the divine nature, that we share in the divine essence and that comes with certain differentials that we would not otherwise have experienced.
That is why righteousness is beyond morality, it is alignment with God so he can flow through us.
Back to the event that happened in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve went out of alignment with God. They sinned and lost out of righteousness. They became unaligned with God, being the meaning of unrighteousness.
So faith leads to righteousness. The bible says that: and Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Believing God brought Abraham into the plans and purposes of God, brought him into alignment.
Righteousness in its pure sense is alignment with God.
It is in that context that we can understand when it is said that Christ became sin for us who knew no sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
He was made “misaligned from God” as it is written, cursed (consequences of being misaligned) is everyman who hangs on the tree, that the blessing of Abraham (the result of alignment with God) can come upon the gentiles through faith.
Abraham gained alignment by faith and so do we.
Alignment with God takes us to a whole new level altogether.
The kind of alignment we have come into in God changes the dynamics of our lives. It’s one which brings to bear the lordship of Jesus in our life. There is no alignment with God that does not bring you to the Lordship of Jesus, the most aligned one.
The resurrection of Jesus defines the parameters of our alignment. Paul said if Jesus did not rise, then we Christians are of all men most miserable.
So the faith that brings you into a position and does not lead to new functionalities is empty, it is none faith.
That is the point James was trying to make, saying that faith without works is dead.
A dead Jesus does nothing good to anybody. The Bible says that the first Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a life-giving spirit, he was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.
Just being associated with the death of Jesus, is like mere taking something bad away, but the resurrection brings in something new.
If we just take something bad away, things can later on become bad again and you will need another death and it won’t be different from what we have in the Old Testament. But God is wiser than that.
Jesus offered himself to God as the Lamb and had to rise from the death to apply the same blood in the heavenly temple, which corresponds to our hearts the core of who we are.
Hence Christ (divine alignment [truth], grace [life] and right action [way]) could dwell in our hearts through faith. In the resurrection, the reality becomes internal (in current reality) and not just external in a past event, as Christ manifests as a life giving spirit.
“Faith” in his death alone does not bring change (any human being can die). We need to believe, as Paul said, that God raised him from the dead. His resurrection confronts us with the faith potential for change in a totally radical sense.
Jesus said that if we love him we would obey him. And that obedience is by faith since we don’t see him but we believe.
And it works both ways that who I am affects what I do and what I do affects who I am. That I am changed affects what I do and what I do also changes me.
So faith changes you by grace, by righteousness and by the very actions you take based on faith.
Hence we can situate what the Bible refers to that righteousness is from faith to faith. The action of faith changes you to be able to do even more in an ongoing incremental sense.
What I am saying is that the very act of obedience changes you.
Paul said that if we confess (action) with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead (being the basis of his being call Lord) we shall be saved. And whoever CALLS (action) upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (without discrimination).
So before I made that confession, I was unsaved. It does not matter how strongly I wished to be saved, how much I hoped for being saved, or plan to be saved, I could not be saved.
Intention is not enough, action actually reflects the heart. So if I confess Jesus, I am saved. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. And the mouth speaks to further fill the heart, as it is written: a man shall be filled with the fruit of his lips.
My action of faith therefore creates a long lasting change in me that I will not have otherwise and it is an action prescribed by the word of God, so it is an action of faith and not emotional. I do not feel that it is true but I believe it is true and did something about it, acted on it, and that changes me.
While Paul was speaking somewhere, a king listening to him said: you almost convinced me to be a Christian. But almost does not cut it. Action is it.
When Peter preached that first sermon, it was wonderful, but “wonderful” is not enough. The people asked: what shall he do to be saved? It always boils down to an action of faith to change us, starting from the salvation experience to everything else which is an expression and extension of our salvation.
James wrote: you say you believe God but the devil also believes and shudders. To shudder corresponds to an emotional reaction in humans and does not change anything.
So what is the difference? It is the action based on the fact that you believe.
When Philip preached to the Ethiopian eunuch, the latter said, “is this not water for me to be baptised?”
Phillip asked him: Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? He said I do and he baptised him.
And immediately there was a change in him and we went on rejoicing. He did not grow taller or shorter, but something happened to him as a result of the action of being baptised, which he was told he needed to do to express that he believed. If he did not do anything and things were left at the level of pondering, nothing substantial would have happened. But he was baptised, being an action of faith (obedience of faith) and he was changed beyond his own comprehension.
He experienced grace, alignment with divinity (righteousness) and inward transformation all in the same package. It is about believing backed with action.
Jesus told Nicodemus: except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. Down that passage, Jesus said that just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, He would also be lifted up.
But being lifted up will not help anybody if nobody looked as they (Israelites bitten by deadly snakes) did to the bronze serpent made by Moses.
The looking is akin to act of faith which freed the Israelites from their near death experiences. So rather than hope for the best, we can look (act by faith in the direction of) Jesus, and be saved.
And the bible told us that we should look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, so that we may successfully run the race set before us.
Along the race we are changed. It is not the same you that started it that will end it.
Though the two bear the same name, they are vastly different because of the action of faith taken over time in the direction of the race set before you.
Righteousness (alignment with God), it is written, is from faith to faith. It means from last to first it is by faith. It means action of faith starts it, continues and ends it. There is no break from faith and along the way faith changes you (by grace, by righteousness and right action, with all the three intertwining).And the Bible says that by grace you are saved through faith. That sets in place a principle of the interaction between the two. One is the substance for change (grace) the other is the connector (the aligner with God.)
We are new creatures by faith in Jesus but it is from faith to faith, through which our new-creatureness becomes expressed in a life of obedience, as we in alignment, righteousness, connect to the Lordship of Jesus.
There is no running away from faith through which we have change.
……. …….. …….. ……. …..
* Let’s take African youths together. Contribute
* Join my daily devotional series sent to your mail. Subscribe
* support this blog and my bid to make my books free through $1 monthly contribution on Patreon