Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America

Wednesday after the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday

Posted on September 14, 2022 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.
This is a passage which confuses many people. The key to understanding it is found in Abraham, who is repeatedly presented in Scripture as being saved by grace through faith. His willingness to offer up Isaac in sacrifice—as the Lord instructed—was a work which was the fruit of faith. James’ emphasis is on the nature of true faith to be expressed in works.
Living faith is distinguished from the dead faith—a mere acknowledgment of the truthfulness and historical accuracy of the Scriptures—which is that of the demons. “Even the demons believe—and tremble!” So, too, Judas proclaimed the Word just like the rest of the twelve and the seventy during the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry. But as early as John 6, Jesus declared him to be a devil (v. 70). As our Lord declared concerning the judgment: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Mat. 7) Their works seem impressive, but they did not spring from living faith, therefore they were sins, and not good works.
Prayer: Almighty and Everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity; and that we may obtain that which Thou dost promise, make us to love that which Thou dost command; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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