By Matt Snook
The book of James has been the center of controversy through generations of Christian leaders and authors. Many have suggested it does not belong in the biblical canon. Men such as Martin Luther had issues with what James lays out in his book. The heart of the issue revolves around the central question of salvation by works versus salvation by faith. I think that James handles this question and others in a strictly to the point manner that addresses what it means to be a person of faith. This is one of my favorite books of the New Testament because it deals with practical ways our faith is evident in our daily lives.
Let me list just a few of the major questions James helps believers wrestle with.
- What should we do when bad things happen to good people? Is that God’s punishment to us?
- In the beginning of his book he says to consider all trials joy as God uses every circumstance we face to bring our walk to maturity and our faith to completion.
- God does not tempt us; instead He is the giver of every good gift.
- Since I am saved and going to heaven anyway, why can’t I say and do whatever I want?
- James says those who love Jesus will not just listen to His words; they will also do what they say.
- Love for our Savior is expressed through the way we live.
There are many other issues James tackles with his writing but the last and most difficult to be discussed is the following question: Am I saved by faith or saved by my good works?
What did he mean, “What good is it if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?” Many churches and denominations have split over this passage of scripture. The way this passage reads to me, is not suggesting that we are saved by works, but rather that works are the fruit that confirm the presence of faith in our lives.
Ultimately, it is our actions that reveal what we truly believe.
Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here.