Faith without Works Is Dead

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (James 2:14–17 NRSV).

Our friend James certainly raises a compelling question. Is faith without works truly dead? To some, the book of James (and his focus on what to do with your faith once you have it) downplays the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Martin Luther, the famous German reformer, certainly struggled with these words. So much so, he debated whether or not to include this letter in his new translation of the New Testament. To others, these words highlight the very foundation of faith. James puts his actions where his faith is, so to speak… But how are we, as Christians living in the modern era supposed to read this passage of Scripture? One way to describe missions is faith into action.

The WMU vision statement states: To challenge Christian believers to understand and be radically involved in the mission of God. That phrase, “to understand and be radically involved,” is where I believe James was headed in his conversation about faith and works. We understand the call of Christ to join Him in His work and we respond by diving in head first.

For students and their leaders, we try to answer the call of faith into action by taking part in movements that change the world around us. Consider human trafficking. For a while now, we have provided numerous ways for you and your group to get out there and actually do something about the problem at hand.

Maybe you read Not in My Town: Exposing and Ending Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery and were inspired to spread the word about this international travesty. Maybe you and your group decided to raise funds for the Hayes Endowment to Combat Human Trafficking which supports Christ-centered anti-trafficking efforts around the world. Maybe you have used Trafficked! to help your students gain a greater understanding about human trafficking and the consequences of their own choices. Maybe you haven’t done anything at all.

The Student Resource Team wants to encourage you to put your faith to work. You see, the amazing thing about God’s mission in the world is that we are invited to take part in it. Please don’t turn down the invitation to get out there and make a difference. Your students need to know that even they can help change the world.

Zachariah Seanor is the national consultant for Royal Ambassadors, Challengers, and Youth on Mission; husband to an amazing wife; and lover of the great outdoors. When he’s not in the office writing blogs, he enjoys warm fires, cool summer nights, and long walks with his border collie, Nellie.

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