A Living Faith

Lay preacher Jennifer Khong shared from James 2:14-26. This passage is often a source of confusion for Christians. We are taught that it is by faith alone we are saved, yet James makes strong statements such as “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (verse 17) and “you believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (verse 19). Does the Bible contradict itself? How should we interpret this passage?

Instead of running away from passages like this, Jen encourages us to dig in deeper to find out what it is saying. First, James isn’t contradicting Paul’s teachings that faith alone saves. Rather, James is using a rhetorical device to drive home the point. The idea of justification includes both settling of debts (what Jesus did on the cross once and for all), and providing evidence of something. In this case, James is prompting us to consider whether our lives bear fruit, whether we have a “living faith”. 

Jen presents three questions we can ask to determine whether we have a living faith:

  1. Do we just shudder? Demons have great faith and great theology, yet they are evil. Is our faith simply a cold theological calculation or does it go deeper than that?
  2. Are you alive towards other people? We must genuinely care for others—if all we offer is lip service in aid of our brothers and sisters, our faith is dead. At the same time, we can’t go through the motions of caring for others simply to check the box. It must be genuine love. 
  3. Are you alive in God? Only true faith can see the loveliness of God. We should seek God for who He is and not what He can give us because he has already given us everything we need on the cross.