Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:16-17
Listen: James 2
It can be easy to read Matthew 25:31-46 and think that the way to “eternal life” (Matthew 25:46) is by doing good things (like serving the needy). This belief is called “works salvation” and concludes that our eternal destiny is dependent on the good works we do and not on what we believe. If we do enough good works, like serving the disadvantaged, we can offset our sins and receive God’s favor.
But this is a massive misreading of Scripture. Scripture tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). It is clear that what we believe about Jesus is critically important. Belief comes first; then we do good things motivated by the grace and goodness of God that we receive through faith in Jesus.
Jesus is both the Judge of Sinners and the Friend of Sinners, the One who stands in the way of our judgment. It’s not our works—it’s him!
IN YOUR CHAIR TIME TODAY
Thank God for two things. First, thank God for his gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Pray a prayer similar to this, “Father, thank you that Jesus paid the penalty for my sin that I could not pay. I thank you that he is my substitute sufferer.” Second, thank him for his trustworthiness. You wrote on a card this past weekend one thing with which you wanted to trust God more. Bring that issue before God again as you seek to obediently follow him.
Download a printable PDF of the BTW week here.