Tuesday, October 23, 2018

EmmDev 2018-10-23 [Wherever I am...] Spiritual and Practical.

Week 4: Dimensions of Mission

Spiritual and Practical.

James poses two rhetorical questions about faith without deeds which are;
  1. "What good is it?"
  2. "Can it save?"
The first question implies a general lack of any usefulness for a faith without actions. The second question specifies a particular use that is lacking: salvation itself. The combined impact is to declare a thorough uselessness of faith without deeds and, also to declare its particular uselessness in regard to salvation.

James consistently speaks of deeds as actions that are taken because of one's faith and those therefore demonstrate and authenticate one's faith. The primary, earnest and repeated point he makes is "not that works must be added to faith but that genuine faith includes works".
James raises the following points about deeds:

  1. His illustration calls for the active giving of material help for people lacking clothing and food.
  2. Deeds are not simply keeping of religious ritual but acts of love commanded in Christ's "royal law"
  3. A conviction that Christians are responsible to care for each other. He pictures needy fellow believers in his example. As Christians too often we speak the good wishes without taking practical actions.
For James, faith begins with a word - the Word of God that gives us the new life. And if that Word from God gives people life, then those who live out that Word extend life to others. Faith is what is active in a person's life, actively giving life to you and to those around you. If it is not active it is not faith. The worst thing James puts across here is the scenario of ignoring the needy, the poorest of the poor.

This is what exactly Jesus was saying in Matthew 19:24 that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Paul echoes the same words and says that no man can inherit the kingdom of God without such work. (Gal 5:2) James says "Do not fool yourself by just listening to his Word" instead put it into practice. People around the world meditate on God's word, some have memorized verses. They spend most; if not all their time praying and undertaking the church's work. But they are kidding and fooling themselves if works are not integrated with that.

James' message to the believer is that we are saved for the purpose of doing good works, but if we fail to pursue good works, our faith is useless to God and to us. He clearly spoke the good news as the generous gifts of God. James wants the good news to be experienced by each believer and through each believer to the many others who need tangible expression of grace.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if a someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.      (James2:14-17)

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Gleness M. Magovere, Minister at Chitungwiza UPCSA, married to Remigio, mother of Rufaro A., Anesu and Artwell Kupakwashe.


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