Claim of Faith Backed by Works
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can such faith save him? (James 2:14)
From verse 14 to 20, James warns his fellow believers of exhibiting faith without deeds. Before delving deeper into the passage, I would like to clarify that the following verses do not mean justification through works. James, who walked with Jesus as a disciple, knows that salvation is through Christ alone. James is stating that if you have a genuine faith in God, it will result in action, yet if you just claim to be saved, and there is no fruit such as action, then you may need to evaluate your claim of faith.
Verse 14 is two rhetorical questions: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works?” Answer: no good. It would make that individual highly suspect if they claim to be saved, and yet, are not obeying God’s Word and commands. “Can such faith save him?” Now, this “him” is not directed to the “someone” but rather to the outside world. So, can such a faith without works, proof of change, claimed by someone save a stranger? I would say nothing is impossible, for it is God who changes lives, but in terms of testimony, it would make things difficult.
For example, if I claim to be a believer to my friends who are non-Christians, and yet, I do not go to church on Sundays, serve other people, and speak ungodly things around my non-Christian friends, why would they see the need to believe in Jesus if I myself am not displaying a difference, a change in my own life? They would think, “Does he really believe what he says he believes, because it doesn’t look like it?” Christ declared a mark of a true disciple is obedience to Him in John 8:31-32, “Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
If we claim to be Christians and followers of Jesus Christ, then we need to be spurred to action, obedience of His Word. People observe what you do, and at times, hold more weight over what you say. Live out your faith each and every day, being an outward display of the transformation that Christ has done in your life.
Isaac De Guzman