Why is faith without works dead?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

Ari Ariel HaNaviy Messianic Jew and Torah Teacher with Messianic Congregation 'The Harvest'
I am a firm believer that genuine faith will always lead to genuine fruit and genuine works:

Jam. 2:18
“…show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (Also see Eph. 2:10)

Faith and faithfulness are both important concepts worthy of careful study in order to properly understand how the Bible emphasizes how one vindicates the other. Tim Hegg of TorahResource.com explains the Hebrew and Greek noun and verb cognates this way: One of the major difficulties we encounter in our discussion of “trust,” “believe,” and “faith/faithful,” is that there is no corresponding verbal form of “faith” in the English language. We have no way of saying that one “faithed” or that someone is “faithing” in God. Yet in both the Hebrew and the Greek the word group expressing the concept of faith also contains a verb cognate. For example, the Hebrew verb (‘aman), “to be supported” from which we derive the verb “to believe,” has the corresponding noun (‘emunah), which means “faith” or “faithful.” Likewise, the Greek verb (pisteuo), “to believe,” has the corresponding noun, (pistis), which means “faith” or “faithful.” Unfortunately, many English readers do not realize that “believing,” “having faith,” and “being faithful” all derive from the same word group whether in the Hebrew or the Greek.

The way I see it, faith and faithfulness function as two sides of the same coin, in that they are both precious in God’s eyes. Don't misunderstand me. I am NOT saying we are saved by works. Perish the thought! I am saying genuine faith will lead to genuine faithfulness. Righteousness can be defined in two ways: "behavioral righteousness,” actually doing what is right, and "forensic righteousness,” being regarded as righteous in the sense (a) that God has cleared him of guilt for past sins, and (b) that God has given him a new human nature inclined to obey God rather than rebel against him as before. Millard Erickson stated, "Sanctification is a process by which one's moral condition is brought into conformity with one's legal status before God.”

Faith without works is dead, because genuine “faith” will always lead to “faithfulness.” If we give the word faith its Semitic background, as we should, we can never divorce the sense of “faithfulness” from the meaning of “agreeing with the truth” or “being convinced by the truth.” To put it another way, the Apostles never envisioned a situation where someone was accredited as having genuine “faith” but whose life did not evidence “faithfulness.” Torah is God's teaching to men about righteousness—what it is and how it behaves. The true believer (anyone who is redeemed by the blood of the Lamb) does not do in order to become. He does because he is what God has made him—the righteousness of God in Messiah. Thus James writes, "…I will show you my faith by my works." (James 2:18)

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