By Elder B E Echols
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also,” (James 2:14-26).
The teaching concerning faith, as given by James in this second chapter of his writings to the church, is not so often referred to or taken into consideration as that which is recorded in the firth chapter. To the writer, this particular reference to faith is the most important teaching on the subject of what faith really consists of that is recorded in the Bible. Being the Lord’s brother, and one of the chosen Apostles who had heard all of Jesus’ teaching on the subject of faith, he certainly was in position to give us the most valuable and necessary teaching concerning faith.
While James does not tell us exactly what “THE WORKS OF FAITH,” are, he emphasizes the fact that faith can be SEEN (James 2:18; Matthew 9:2) or recognized by both the onlooker (observer) and those who possess it. He informs us positively that the works (proof, evidence, or manifestation) of faith exists in plurality — i.e., are manifested in more than one way or that it (faith) is made up of more than one element.
Now, the only way that faith can be seen or definitely recognized is by the works (manifestations, “actions” — Weymouth, or “deeds” — Moffatt) of faith. If we can find out, by the Scriptures, what “THE WORKS OF FAITH” are, then, we can know when we, or others, possess it sufficiently and not be so often publicly embarrassed by the failure to receive the things we ask God for. We might also be in a better position to go about obtaining or producing whatever is lacking on our part in order to have faith that obtains the things desired or prayed for.
The writer believes that the Lord has led him to discover what “THE WORKS OF FAITH” are, and, herewith, presents them for your prayerful and scriptural consideration. I have also been enabled to see or discover that there are no promises within the Bible that encourages one to believe he can receive anything from the lord with only ONE work of faith in possession. On the other hand, it is very evident that when one can produce all THREE of “THE WORKS OF FAITH” that he never fails to receive what he asks for from the Lord. One may sometimes receive when he only produces two of the works (manifestations, deeds or proof) of faith; but it must always be a plurality or pair of them — in the least; for by the mouth (of proof) of two or three witnesses everything (or anything) is sufficiently proven to meet the requirements of God. See Matthew 18:15,16; Second Corinthians 13:1; Hebrews 10:28.
The Works of Faith Introduced
According to the Scriptures, “THE WORKS OF FAITH” consist of (1) HUMILITY — Second Chronicles 7:14, (2) EARNESTNESS — James 5:17, and (3) DETERMINATION or PERSEVERANCE — Ephesians 6:18. One of the reasons these things are “THE WORKS OF FAITH” is due to the fact that a person who has faith can be humble, in earnest, and determined when he approaches God for anything. The absence of two or more of these things is proof that one is void of faith — as required by the Lord. Bible Examples of Such Faith
1. THE INSTANCE OF THE SYROPHENICIAN WOMAN.
“Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshiped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour,” (Matthew 15:21-28).
In this case and those to follow, all three of “THE WORKS OF FAITH” were manifested or produced, and in some instances, they were very evident or outstanding. Verses 22 and 23 show that she was so much in earnest about the healing of her daughter that she came to the Lord CRYING about the matter. Then, in verses 24 and 25, we can see that she was determined not to be denied, and in verses 26 and 27, she produced an abundance of humility; for she humbled herself even to the comparison of being a dog — the attitude of thought which most of the Jews of that time maintained toward all Gentiles. By reading verse 28, you can see that Jesus recognized this example of faith, which was evidenced by all three of the existing “WORKS OF FAITH,” as being very great, and granted that her daughter might be healed according to her desires.
2. THE INSTANCE OF THE TWO BLIND MEN.
“And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it,” (Matthew 9:27-30).
In verse 27, we find that they both WERE HUMBLE and IN EARNEST, for they, too, cried as the Syrophenician woman did and manifested both humility and determination BY FOLLOWING the Lord on to the house where He was going — even after He had completely ignored their cries as He passed by where they were, and did not stop to find out what they wanted. Maybe you cannot see humility in their following Him; but if you ever ask some one to sell you something on credit, and refuses, you see if it is not humiliating to you to keep on following him around and asking him repeatedly to grant you credit. A PROUD person would walk off upon the first refusal and do without before he would keep asking or following such a person around insisting on such a favor. But as we all know, people who will humble themselves and insist for their needs and desires in this manner, obtain them when others would go away empty handed.
Let us turn to Luke 18:1-8 right now and read about the woman who prevailed on the unjust judge; and also read about the “Importunate Friend” in Luke 11:5-8.
“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 181-8).
“And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth,” (Luke 11:5-8).
Both of these examples are outstanding with the manifestations of humility and perseverance and not void of earnestness; for one went by night and the Lord indirectly admitted that the woman was much in earnest (verse 7).
3. THE INSTANCE OF JACOB’S WRESTLING WITH THE LORD (undoubtedly in angelic form).
“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved,” (Genesis 32:24-30).
Jacob’s wrestling with the Lord (verses 24,25) proves that he was IN EARNEST, and his refusal to let Him go except He bless him (Jacob) shows he was DETERMINED or PERSEVERING. Then, he showed his humility by admitting his undermining or supplanting name — the name Jacob (verse 27). So, we see that Jacob also produced all three of “THE WORKS OF FAITH”, and thus prevailed with God to the extent that he returned to his family with ample victory and grace to meet his angry brother and appease his wrath.
Oh, how we need to approach God with like faith today for our every need of soul, body and spirit, and for all the needs of the church and a lost world — including all the sick and afflicted. The Lord seems to wonder Himself if He would find such faith on the earth when He returns (see Luke 18:8).
There is not a single recorded instance in all the Bible where anyone produced all “THE WORKS OF FAITH” and failed to obtain what he was asking or seeking for. Read the ninth chapter of Daniel and see what God did for him when he (1) got IN EARNEST (began fasting) (2) HUMBLED HIMSELF in sackcloth and ashes, and was so (3) DETERMINED to find out about the seventy years (weeks) desolation referred to by Jeremiah (25:11,12) that he SET his face into the Lord God for the understanding of the same. He began with so much faith (verse 3) until the archangel Gabriel came with the answer and understanding BEFORE he had finished praying. Gabriel even stopped him from praying in order to deliver the message to him. How wonderful! What faith!
You and I can obtain just such answers to our prayers or requests as all these folk did by producing what they did — “THE WORKS OF FAITH” i.e., humility, earnestness, and determination (or perseverance).
The more spiritual one is, the easier he will find it to produce all these three works of faith (see Zechariah 4:6; Galatians 5:22,23). The fulness of the Spirit is an all-around aid to every Christian. But those who are somewhat lacking spiritually need not despair. They can HUMBLE themselves “under the mighty hand of God,” (First Peter 5:6) — the hand of providence that provides humiliating circumstances and affairs to come our way, and show some earnestness by fasting if they cannot begin with weeping and tears. Then, once they gain some ground concerning these two “WORKS OF FAITH,” they will assist them on to determination or perseverance.
The “WORK OF FAITH” known as perseverance, cannot be produced by anyone who is void of the other two — humility and earnestness. These two last named works of faith must always precede perseverance or exist in one’s heart before he can produce the CROWNING work of faith — DETERMINATION. This much needed and honored “WORK OF FAITH,” determination helps us to hold on to the horns of the altar until God grants our petitions or causes God to cease His withholdings.
Remember that all this supposition faith — faith we hope we have, and all this boasted-of faith, referred to in many testimonies, sermons, Bible lessons, songs, etc., is all DEAD or worthless without “THE WORKS OF FAITH” that James refers to. No doubt, Jesus would have to say to many of us today, “O ye of LITTLE faith,” if He should comment about our faith.
We need not keep fooling ourselves. A man or woman of faith (though often tested and tried) always denied — they are often found of the receiving end of the “faith line.” Praise the Lord! The receiving end of the “faith line” is where we all desire to be and should be. Let us get there, by God’s grace (Second Corinthians 12:9; Philippians 4:13) and then STAY there, and we should see signs, wonders, miraculous healings, the dead raised to life, the maimed (Those who have lost a hand, arm, leg or foot by mutilation, or the use of the same by disease or accident.) being supplied with new feet, legs, hands, arms, eyes, etc. We should see the Gospel message confirmed and attested in a mighty and wonderful way, and the world turned upside down for Jesus (not us). Hallelujah! God help us to attain unto that place where we can produce “THE WORKS OF FAITH.” Our dreams, visions, and desires would all then materialize and become existing realities. How wonderful to think about — how much MORE wonderful to experience. You may have it. I may have it. All who will produce “THE WORKS OF FAITH,” can certainly have or obtain all the desires of their hearts that are in harmony with the will of God.
In closing, let me encourage you who are afflicted and beset on every side with mountains of hindrances, to look to Jesus, the “Author and Finisher of our FAITH” (Hebrews 12:2), and He will assist you in producing these much needed and demanded “WORKS OF FAITH,” sufficient to obtain your every need (Philippians 4:19). For, without Him, we can do nothing (St. John 15:5). So, “Let us therefore come BOLDLY unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace TO HELP in time of need,” (Hebrews 14:16) — whether it be for the ability to produce “THE WORKS OF FAITH,” or anything else.