Does James Teach That Salvation Is by Works and by Faith?

Episode 222 Show Notes 

Does James Teach That Salvation Is by Works and by Faith?

From the Show

I know that the book of James teaches that true religion is caring for orphans and widows but how does this fit with an emphasis on the gospel?

God doesn't need our good works. He has Christ's merits that he applies to our account. We don't need our good works. Then who does? Our neighbors. They're the ones who need a helping hand…. Now, why are widows and orphans? The real test of love is caring for people we think are least important, and have the least to give back to us, right? I mean, that's a real test of love. Not a big deal, Jesus says, if you love your friends who can love you back. I mean, don't the pagans do that? Our society's really bent on reinforcing the sinful nature of lookout for number one. And not much has changed for widows and orphans in James’ day and ours, they're often completely overlooked. My folks used to own and run two residential care homes for the elderly and throughout my teen years, I had lots of grandmas, and I saw how little, even many churches, took an interest in visiting their own members, taking them to doctor's visits, or just checking in on them. My mom wrote letters, I remember, to churches in the area, asking them to come around at Christmas, but only two churches responded and neither one of them was an evangelical church. A couple of interesting statistics here: according to UNICEF, there are 153 million orphans today, and the recorded number of orphans living in the foster care system in the United States, now, this is just in the foster care system, not counting those outside, the recorded number of orphans in the United States in the foster care system is half a million. With one-third of them being eligible for adoption. A wonderful Christian couple, good friends of ours, just returned from China with their newly adopted son who has multiple chronic medical issues, but they're elated. Now, God has to give you a gift for that. You know, it's like some people have the gift of singleness, some people have the gift of marriage, well, some people have the gift of ‘this is what God is calling us to right now in our lives.’ And they did. And it's wonderful. But you don't have to adopt a child from China, you don't have to fit visiting the rest home every day into your schedule, but a lot of our churches used to have a practice of going to the old folks home every Lord's day in between services, taking the older folks and the younger folks, the kids over to see even people they're not related to, just to encourage them. We're all part of Christ's body, we're all called to include our brothers and sisters in Christ who are more disadvantaged in our lives, and the thing that really strikes me is, you know when my mom was completely debilitated, she couldn't do anything, couldn’t talk, she would nevertheless look up to heaven and her eyes would cry a little bit when she heard scripture read to her. And the brother who would regularly go and visit her to read the scriptures to her and pray with her from church, time and time again, he told me, “I was always more blessed by her than she was by me.” And I think that's true. It's not just that they’re burdens, ‘the widows and the orphans are burdens but we got to do it anyway because Jesus said so.’ Rather, we also do it because they are a blessing to us. And that's what you find in the body of Christ. You don't find this outlook in the world; in the body of Christ, every member of the body is essential for the proper functioning of a whole body and orphans and widows are essential organs in Christ body. — Michael Horton

Questions in this Episode

1. I know that the book of James teaches that true religion is caring for orphans and widows but how does this fit with an emphasis on the gospel?

2. Do you have any more advice on what books to give or things to say to a family who are not practicing Christians but are interested? 

3. How can we bring family and friends back toward practicing their faith without being judgmental or threatening when they seemed to have stopped for no particular reason?







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