Christian faith must translate itself into works. It is not sufficient to lend mental assent to a Christian creed. It is necessary for one’s destiny that the details of life be committed to the person of Jesus Christ. Thus, faith translates itself into Christian experience and action.
Christian faith consists of a body of truth as taught in the New Testament, as expressed in the commonly accepted creeds, and as believed by those who call themselves Christian. Christian faith becomes experience when the individual commits his life to Jesus Christ and acknowledges him to be the Lord of life. Faith is then expressed in life.
Paul And James
In speaking of faith, St. Paul used Abraham as an illustration of one who believed and whose faith was counted unto him for righteousness. He declared that Abraham was justified by faith and not by works. This righteousness was equated with salvation. “By grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourself; it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast.” On the other hand, James used Abraham as an illustration of one who was saved by works. He declared, “Faith without work 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, by works was faith made perfect.”
Some have attempted to create a conflict between Paul and James on this subject of salvation by faith or by works and faith. The harmony comes in recognizing that faith is the root and works are the fruit of the matter. Whoever has a justifying faith in God gives evidence of this by obedience. Faith produces love and love is the fulfilling of the law. It is impossible to divorce Christian life from Christian faith.
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more