Saturday after the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: James 2:14-26 (NKJV)
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.
This faith of which James speaks, this faith we talked about yesterday, is the true faith. This faith cannot be seen. It is given to us by Word and Sacrament, and makes its presence known by a proper confession and by its proper and natural work. Jesus says a tree is known by its fruit (Matt.7:16-20). If a person has a faith with no works—no love of God and neighbor, no pity, no repentance, no confession, no love of God’s Word and Sacrament—does that one have true faith? Is that faith able to save him? We would all say “No!”, because that is not faith in the One Holy Triune God.
You see, by God’s grace you and I, who through Word and Sacrament have been given faith in the Holy Trinity, were freed from the law of works to save us. We no longer have to keep the law in order to be saved. Now we are free to keep the law of love. We are free to do good works to the glory of God and for the good of our neighbor. Our new man wants to do God’s Law. It is as St. Paul writes in Romans 6:4, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
In this world it is true that our old nature still clings to us, but it is also true that the Lord uses His people—He works through them to make their faith complete and to glorify His holy Name. He even uses sinners like me and you.
Lord, thank You that You do many “good” works through Your people. Amen.