Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America

Saturday after the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday

Posted on October 10, 2020 by Pastor Dulas under Devotions
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Scripture: James 2:14-26 (NKJV)
2:14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
The Augsburg Confession, article 6, clearly teaches what St. James is saying in our reading: our churches teach “…it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God’s will, but not that we should rely on those works to merit justification before God.” People continue to be confused about this point, so the Church continues to teach it.
We make distinctions about words and ideas for the sake of teaching, but it is possible for us to take the distinctions too far. If we try to impose our human reasoning on His holy things, we can cause dangerous confusion. St. James was called to clarify the truth about faith and works because man’s reason thought faith and works could be separated. Our churches and faithful pastors endeavor to teach as St. James did. We do not want to say too much, or too little; we want to confess the truth according to God’s Word and Spirit!
The very idea of faithful works is that we confess the truth and wisdom of our Lord Jesus Christ with all that we do, with clear words and proper acts. But the will of God establishes what we should do and what the results will be. We are called to confess according to our vocations and according to the situation. Sometimes we speak and give reason for the hope we have in Christ (1 Pet. 3:15), other times we are called to clothe and feed someone because of God’s love. However, it is only His grace in Jesus that saves us and makes us righteous!
Prayer: Lord, we beseech Thee, grant Thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the devil and with pure hearts and minds to follow Thee, the only God; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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