“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead?”
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Abraham believed when God promised that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens, and the Lord “reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:5-6). But James tells us that this “Scripture was fulfilled” (verse 23) when Abraham “offered up Isaac his son on the altar” (verse 21). All that Abraham could do at the time that God made His promises was have faith (believe) that He would fulfill them in the future, but when God later tested His faith, he proved that his was an active, working, obedient faith. Whenever God told Abraham to do something, his faith functioned with his works, “and as a result of the works” his “faith was perfected” (completed, consummated) (verse 23).
Neither faith (belief) nor works “alone” can justify a person (verse 24). When faith is divorced from works it is just as lifeless as a cold, dead body (verse 26). Faith and works “work together” (Greek, sunergei) synergistically to the attainment of God’s justification. Only God can “reckon” (impute) righteousness and grant justification, but He only does so when a person’s faith is wedded with works of obedience. And, once again, we see that God is not one to show “personal favoritism” (no respecter of persons) (Hebrews 2:1). God considers faithful people to be right in His sight whether they are lowly, impoverished, Canaanite women like Rahab (verse 24) or noble, wealthy, Hebrew men like Abraham.
When Abraham demonstrated his obedient faith, “he was called the friend of God” (verse 23). It should be no surprise to us when we read in John 15:14 that Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do what I command you.” Jesus is a very demanding friend and He has every right and reason to be. But when we follow Him in loving, trusting, working faith, He will do amazing things for us that no earthly BFF could ever think about doing!
Please read James 3:1-5 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed day!
- Louie Taylor