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Today’s verse is possibly the most debated scripture in the entire Bible. In fact, Martin Luther, the 16th-century religious reformer, wanted to throw the book of James out of the Bible all because of this one verse.
What was his big hangup? He didn't think it expressed the message of the Gospel. It appeared to contradict Paul's belief about justification by faith alone.
“Therefore St James’ epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the Gospel about it.” —Martin Luther
Listen to today's episode and see what you think. Was Martin Luther right?
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Hey, Welcome to The Simple Truth. I’m Julie Carruth.
Today’s verse is possibly the most debated scripture in the entire Bible. In fact, Martin Luther wanted to throw the book of James out of the Bible all because of this one verse. Which is James 2:14 (NIV) “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?”
So, let’s put this verse into context with some history. The book of James is a letter written to Christian Jews. These are people that were Jewish but now they are Christians, or Messianic Jews. So, as a Jew, they grew up having to obey 613 commandments. If you violated any commandment it was a sin. Some sins were punishable with death, others with lashes. But no sin committed with willful intent went without consequences.
So, now these new Messianic Jews are saying, “Praise God, Hallelujah, I no longer have to work my way to heaven. I can sit back, and just trust that my profession of faith is my ticket to heaven. Thank you, Jesus.”
And James is saying, Woo, hold on here. Just because say that you’re saved, doesn’t necessarily mean that you are saved. When you receive salvation, you are a new creation. Your life is transformed from the inside out, and as such, your heart’s desire is to live your life for Christ in all that you do. And, if you claim to have faith in Christ, then we should be able to look at the fruit of your life and see evidence that God is real in your life like this....
James 2:15-16 (NIV) says, “Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?”
So, we are saved by faith alone by believing in the finished work of Jesus. But after conversion, the spirit living within you will manifest good works outwardly.
And we will end with James 2:17, “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
Still confused? Then you’ll want to tune into tomorrow as we continue exploring this hotly debated verse.
Never miss an episode by subscribing at TheSimpleTruthPodcast.com. I’m Julie Carruth and I’ll see you again tomorrow.