Many people reject the idea that these two words should be found in the same context. The reason is that while we need faith to receive God’s blessings and approval, we also realize that God’s grace is what saves us instead of works. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 2 that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), and not of works that anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:9). Anyone who studies the Bible as they should will tell you that you need both in order to be saved.
The Barna research group is primarily a religious study group. This is the group that tells us that about 84% of the population of the United States believes in God. This group also reveals that only about 52% of the population ever attend a religious service. The group says that about 44% attend regularly. That seems strange that so many people claim to have faith, but so few actually demonstrate their faith.
James 2:14-26 teaches very valuable lessons to us.
- Many people claim to have faith, but do not serve God. Some say they are not churchgoers, but they still have their faith. James 2:14 says “What use is it my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” This is a rhetorical question, because obviously the message is clear that unless he has works, his faith is dead."
- James 2:17 says that “Even so faith if it has no works, is dead being by itself” Faith must be accompanied by works in order to be an active living faith. A lot of people do not demonstrate any indicators that they have faith in God, even though they claim to have a “personal relationship” with Him. That is nothing more than a cop-out. Unless one is actively and diligently seeking to please God, they have no faith. Read Hebrews 11:6.
- James 2:20 says that faith without works is useless. I John also teaches that if we are claiming to be in fellowship with God, but do not practice the truth, we are liars.
- James 2:22 reads: “you see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected.” Faith is made complete which is what the meaning of "perfect" is in the Scriptures. In Hebrews 11 we have many examples of people of faith. One thing in common with all of them is they were accounted faithful by what they did, not by what they believed.
- James 2:24 reads: "You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone."
- James 2:26 reads in part: “… so also faith without works is dead.”
Claiming to be faithful to God is just a waste of words unless you have the works to back up that claim. In our contemporary language, we can say “put up or shut up”. James 2:18 reads in part: “… show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” Many people claim to have faith in God, but their actions do not reflect a faith at all. Titus 1:16 hopefully will strike a chord here: “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him.”
There are many people who claim to be “Christian,” yet they do not live like a Christian should live. The only people God will welcome into heaven are those who demonstrate their faith with works. You know; those who walk the walk. I John 1:7 reads, “but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another."
Our faith is demonstrated by works. These works are given to us to do from God. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
The Bible gives us the works we should do. II Peter 1:5-7 teaches us what we need to add to our faith. II Peter 3:18 teaches us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. God gives us everything we need concerning salvation and living the Christian life (II Peter 1:3). So we encourage you to serve God by hearing the word of God and believing it. Realize that you must repent of your old ways, and turn towards being pleasing to God in the way God teaches us through His word. Confess the good name of Jesus before others, and be baptized for the remission of your sins. This starts you on your spiritual journey that will take a lifetime of active, working faith to complete (Revelation 2:10).