Object of faith: Faith or God
Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works. James 2:21-26 NLT
True saving faith is the result of trusting what God said in His Word. We trusted God as Lord and Savior because we believe His word. “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ” (Romans 10:17). From the text, James provides two illustrations of what saving faith will do in the life of those who believed in the message of God. No matter how strong someone would claim their faith is, if it is not directed to the right object, such faith is useless. Faith has its true value because of its object. The question that we need to deal with regarding faith is that to whom is our faith focused? We are saved by faith focused alone in Jesus Christ and not in faith itself. James cited Abraham’s action prompted by his faith in God as revealed in His word. Abraham was promised that he will be the father of all nations through his son Isaac and yet, he was told by God to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham believed both God’s word that he will be the father of all nations and he can offer Isaac as sacrifice. They may seem to be contradictory but for Abraham, he will obey God and will sacrifice Isaac for God has the power to raise Isaac from the dead. “‘Even though God had told him, ‘Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.’ Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead’” (Hebrews 11:18-19). Abraham was declared righteous long before he sacrificed Isaac. “And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith” (Genesis 15:6). His obedience to God was a proof that he truly had faith. Then, James cited Rahab who was a prostitute in Jericho who hid the spies sent by Joshua. Rahab was not saved because she hid the spies, for even before this event she already believed the God of Israel. “For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below” (Joshua 2:10-11). Faith in God had already existed in Rahab’s heart that it prompted her to hide the spies. Both Abraham and Rahab proved their true faith when they took actions obeying God’s Word. Faith in God is active for it will produce good works.