The Good Samaritan

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Christian Faith: Commitment, Community & Legacy

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Faith Without Works Is Dead

Scripture text: 'What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is [c]dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (James 2:14-26 KJV).

Introductory Remarks

The point of faith, the commitments of faith, the community of faith and the legacy of faith are not literary or polemical only, my Christian friends. Think of Donatists, who on the question of the integrity of priests, denounced traitors who had turned Scriptures over to Diocletian and had Bibles by the thousands burned, or Nestorians, who because they disagreed with the language of the Chalcedonian Creed went it alone--but they disappeared because of lax morals and rampant sin in their ranks, or North African Roman Catholic and Byzantine Christianity, who, in spite of these Christians being indigenous for five centuries or more, succumbed to the military onslaught of Islam and was all but wiped out.

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