Works of Grace

This week we continue in James 2:14-26 on how works play out with our faith. Please read the passage along with us. This week may seem like a simple passage, culminating in the truth that faith without works is dead. However, there is a lot of rich theology and old testament references in this passage. It is important to remember Jesus’ words in John 15:1-5:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…”

You see we were saved by grace and not by our works, but our newly created self in Christ was created to do good works, please see Ephesians 2:8-10 below:

 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Reflection Questions:

  1. James references two stories from the Old Testament in this section: Genesis 22 and Joshua 2 and 6. You may find it helpful to reference these sections. What do they tell us about the faith of Abraham and Rahab the prostitute?
  2. If faith without works is dead and true religion is caring for orphans and widows, how are you accomplishing this in your own life?
  3. Was Abraham’s faith made complete by what he did? When is a time you remember stepping out in faith for God?
  4. James never says that works, without faith, can save you. How are you actually saved?  What role do works play (think of the fruit in John 15)?