Study # 46
Thesis: Though it IS true that love has as much to do with the production of faith as faith does, it is YET true that faith PRODUCES.
Introduction: We have spent a couple of weeks dealing with some of the theological issues involved in the thesis that faith must produce works if it is saving faith. Suffice it to say, in summary, that saving faith is always looking to the Originator of the content of the faith for the fulfillment of the contents of that faith (Romans 4:21). This means that Jesus becomes the object of the faith that sees absolute righteousness as necessary to justification, and the Holy Spirit becomes the object of the faith that sees sanctification as necessary to glorification. Legalism looks to man for the fulfillment of the requirements of the faith.
Now, this evening, we are going to continue in James' presentation of his thesis that the kind of faith that is without works is dead and useless to produce salvation or any other thing. Interestingly, ALL sides of the theological debate regarding how a man is saved agree that the faith that saves is a faith that is accompanied by works. The Calvinists, who declare (correctly) that salvation is by the faith itself, and not by the works that inevitably follow, yet admit that the faith that saves works. The Arminians, who declare (incorrectly) that salvation results from the works of genuine faith, yet agree that the faith that saves works. The biblical truth is that, as Philip Hook wrote in BibSac, salvation results from the quality of faith and not the quantity. Quality simply defines faith in respect to its object(s).
However, when James set forth his thesis that faith MUST work in order to save, he stirred up a segment of his readership who wanted to be able to claim to believe, but feel no constraint to evaluate the nature of their faith. It was this segment to whom he addressed the words of 2:18 and following.
July 22, 1998
- I. The Objector.
- A. Had a motivation for objecting.
- 1. It HAD to be connected to James' insistence that believers MUST respond to the inconsistencies between their behavior and the truth.
- 2. It HAD, therefore, to also be connected to the demand to be willing to continue to change.
- 3. In this context, it was related to the ungodly desire to find security in money and not in the promises of God.
- B. Had an apparently plausible foundation for objecting.
- 1. The structure of the text: the objector is the speaker in verses 18-19.
- 2. The content of the text: the choris in the textual tradition under our translations is very probably a corruption of ek and the nekra behind the AV translation of verse 20 is more likely argos.
- 3. The meaning of the objection: one cannot tell what is driving action because the same content of faith can result in opposite works.
- II. James' Response.
- A. He refers to him as a "vain" man.
- 1. This signifies that his objection is based upon a faulty foundation in both motive and logic.
- 2. This signifies that he is, himself, an object of divine displeasure.
- B. He summons him to acknowledge that he himself has undercut his own objection.
- 1. It IS true that there is more to action than faith; love is there.
- 2. It is NOT true that faith can exist without producting action.