What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
— James 2:14-17(NRSV)
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
— James 2:14-17(NIV)
Take this one and memorize it.
It was very early in my Christian life; I was at university and fell in amongst Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship folk. I was invited to an “advance” which is what they were calling retreats then. They taught me all sorts of stuff, like there is no such thing as a virtuous pagan as all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Fortunately I had met a virtuous pagan so was safe from that particular instruction.
I mentioned in conversation that I had seen something on television about Mormons who stored six months worth of food in advance of emergencies. This was when the media were agitating about survivalists and the commentator had asked the Mormon what he would do if there were a real emergency and he replied he was obligated to share his stores with his neighbours.
I must have sounded too impressed with the Mormon fellow on the television. One woman looked at me with horror in her eyes, But that’s justification by works! I’m afraid I had no answer for her.
James has an answer for her. My answer now is, any faith that does not make you just, does not justify you.
Peace be with you, Friends.