Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Paraphrase of James 2:14-26 by Zane C. Hodges

Dead Faith: What Is It? A Study on James 2:14-16 (Redencion Viva, 1987, pgs 15, 16, 18, & 20) by Zane Clark Hodges

What good does it do, my Christian brothers, if someone among you says he has faith and yet does not act on that faith? Faith certainly cannot preserve his life, now can it? It would be the same thing as if one of you spoke to some Christian brother or sister who was destitute of the necessities of life and you said, "Go home peacefully and get warmed and filled." But if you did not give them the very things they needed for bodily life, what good would it do? Would their lives be saved by your confident words? In the same way when faith stands all by itself, because you fail to act on it, your inactive faith is as dead as your useless words to your destitute Christian brother. It has no life-preserving power at all!

But someone is going to say, [objector:] "All right then! Let's say that you have correct beliefs and I have correct actions. Go right ahead! Take some belief of yours and make it visible by means of your actions. And if you can do that (but, of course you can't!), then I will take my actions and will make my belief visible through them (utterly impossible!). Oh, I know! You'll claim that your faith in the unity of God is demonstrated by your good conduct. I disallow that claim. The demons also believe the same thing you believe and they don't do good! They only tremble!"

[Reply of James to hypothetical objector] "Oh senseless man! Do you really want to know that faith is genuinely dead without works? Take our father Abraham as an example. Isn't it obvious that he was vindicated by his works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? Can't you see for yourself that his faith was cooperating with his works and his faith was actually matured by those works?"

[Reply continues] "And was not all this an appropriate fullfillment of the divine delcaration by which he was originally vindicated in God's sight; for the Scripture says that 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness'? But now, in offering up his own son, this original divine acceptance of Abraham was substantiated and verified in the eyes of men who appropriately called him 'the friend of God.'"

In conclusion, then, as you all can see, a man can be vindicated by works as well as being vindicated by faith. To illustrate: Was not Rahab the prostitute obviously vindicated by her works when she actively aided the spies to escape? Isn't that how she herself survived when everybody else in her city died? The point is plain: When Christian faith is disconnected from our works, it has no more vitality and life-preserving power than does a corpse which has been disconnected from its dynamic, life-giving spirit.

(PS: I am working on the final part of the last series)