The Northfield

  2535 Shore Road

  Northfield, NJ 08225

  (609)646-1181

Church of Christ

09/01/2008

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"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such a faith save him" (James 2:14)?

Earlier in his epistle, James had drawn a distinction between hearing the gospel and obeying it (1;22-25). The message of Christ demands a response. Passive hearing is out of the question. He now returns to the discussion of obedience, but goes further this time. This time he takes up the issue of faith, one of the loftiest words in a Christian's vocabulary. Instead of contrasting obedience with passive hearing, he contrasts it with disinterested faith. I think that his goal for you and I here is to convince us that the faith that pleases God is not just a mental assent.

In Matthew 23:23, Jesus insisted that the important parts of the Law involved justice, mercy and faith. They were the starting points for obedience. Neither James nor Jesus would argue that in today's church that some ceremony has spiritual value. Baptism, the Lord's Supper, assembly on the Lord's Day, prayer, and praise are essential expressions of faith. Still, they are of little value unless they are springboards for compassion and mercy. Pure religion is all about treating people right (James 1:27). It is about giving those less fortunate a fair shake. It is about charity and mercy.

James was interested in our extending mercy to all, but when the person is a brother or sister, love demands an extra measure of mercy. Pious words are just not enough! It is this simple! Faith that pleases God is just not compatible with us turning our backs on those about us in need. James is baffled here. "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"(2:15&16).

Faith speaks in deeds when a Christian who is blessed with material things gives a needy person the things necessary for his body, but may even require more. Justice and mercy extend even farther. We can be an advocate for those in need by becoming involved in programs that might help a great many. Even though this may be stretching it, by doing our homework when we support a political candidate, and supporting the one who we think will do the best for those in real need.

Last but not least....What a wonderful way to share our faith. When we share our blessings with others, we are also sharing our faith. It is what we should all be about.

Have a wonderful beginning to your week. Let your light shine for the Lord. Love mark Phil. 4:11

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