“So, you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” James 2:17-18
Faith is the key doctrine of the Christian Faith. James is asking us to show him any evidence for your faith without works. It can’t be done. People who truly believe something act on what they claim to believe. Faith that doesn’t cause a person to act is dead faith. It is not faith; it is just words.
James makes clear that saving faith in Christ is active and transformative. Salvation is about placing our trust in Christ; this necessarily transforms us in such a way that we begin to make new and different choices. Living faith in Christ changes the direction of a person’s life. It always results in the believer beginning to participate in good works. Where there are no works, there is only a dead “words only” faith.
It’s important to note what James is not saying. He is not in any sense claiming that salvation requires good works. He’s not talking about following the law or being perfectly sinless. He’s talking about doing good works that are consistent with loving other Christians and obeying the Father. That’s what those who trust in Christ begin to do.
In other words, we are saved only by faith, and this faith which saves will produce good works. According to James, those who lack works are not saved—not because they lack works, but because their lack of works proves that they lack saving faith.
Today’s Bible Reading: Ephesians 2:8-9, 2 Corinthians 5:7, Hebrews 11:6, Romans 14:23