Martin Luther called the book of James ‘the epistle of straw’ as he couldn’t reconcile James’ “Faith without works is dead” with Paul’s “it is by grace you have been saved through faith and not by works so no one can boast”.
How do these two verses hang together?
Simply a mental assent or a belief in sound doctrine is not the same as jumping into the arms of Christ, putting our trust in him.
I think this is such a key verse which we need to wrestle with today, as we often are so into people “praying the prayer” but seem less keen on the whole living the life stuff.
My daughters’ Godfather, Adam, tells of thinking he was a Christian because he had a vague belief in God/Jesus, but hearing someone say “even the devil believes in God and has sound theology, but that doesn’t make him a Christian”… For Adam this was something life transforming (ended up becoming a Vicar).
Becoming a Christian is an all consuming thing, it effects everything, our choices, relationships, matters big and small, public and private life… “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live but Christ lives in me, the life I now live I live by faith in the son of God who died for me”.
This changes everything.
I don’t believe people can repent of their sins, be filled with Gods Spirit and put their trust/faith in Christ and remain unchanged, their lives must produce fruit….
Real faith has to be more than a vague theology test, some christian rhetoric, all the gear no idea Christianity.
Shane Claiborne talks of the difference between “believers” and “followers”.
We are not saved BY our good works but rather FOR good works, prepared for us in advance.
Christ has done it all upon the cross we can’t earn our salvation but we should be changed by that encounter and that should reflect in our lives.
There is a dangerous myth that thinks we can accept Christ and out our use in him and not be changed… Yet being transformed to being more like Christ is not an optional extra for the swots, but the ultimate plan of God the longing of our true selves.
Let’s live out our faith.