How Faith Works

How Faith Works. James concludes chapter 2 with two illustrations that give us examples as to what true faith looks like in real life.

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

James 2:21-25, ESV

How Faith Works. James concludes chapter 2 with two illustrations that give us examples as to what true faith looks like in real life.

How Faith Works - Abraham and Isaac

Abraham was 100 years old when God fulfilled His promise to Abraham to give him a son. Can you imagine the rejoicing when Sarah gave birth to Isaac? What, then, do you think went through the mind of Abraham when God asked the unthinkable of him?

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

Genesis 22:1-2, ESV

Abraham, a man of faith, did not hesitate to obey God. God had promised him a son and he had faith in God's promises to him. In the very next verse of Genesis 22, we see the response of Abraham to God's command. 

So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

Genesis 22:3, ESV

Hebrews 11 gives us more insight into the faith of Abraham when God asked him to offer up his son as a sacrifice.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.

Hebrews 11:17-19, ESV

As we read on in the 22nd chapter of Genesis, we find that God, indeed, provided a sacrifice--a ram caught in the thicket nearby. Abraham had so much faith in God that he believed that if he did sacrifice Isaac, God would raise him back from the dead. This test of God may surprise us,  but in the time of Abraham, it was not unusual for the gods to require the sacrifice of children. 

Abraham had true faith!

How Faith Works - Rahab 

James continues in chapter 2  by giving us the example of Rahab the prostitute. 

And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

The children of Israel were in the promised land. Their first conquest was to be the city of Jericho. Joshua 2 tells us the story of Rahab and the spies.

And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. 2 And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” 3 Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.”6 But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. 7 So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out.

Joshua 2:1-7, ESV

Hebrews 11, verse 31, gives us this commentary on Rahab. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

How Faith Works - Questions

How Faith Works.

When we consider the examples given by James in chapter 2, how do we measure up? Do we have the faith of Abraham when God asked him to sacrifice his son? Do we have the faith of Rahab to go against the king and protect the spies that God had sent to Jericho?

In answer to these questions, two things come to mind. First, true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ reveals itself in our lives by a change in our hearts. Gone is the desire to please the culture in which we live. Instead, God gives us a desire to honor and please Him--a desire which will result in a change in our lives.

Second, less we fear we will never measure up, we must remember that it is God who grants us faith. When we become believers, the Holy Spirit comes to reside within our hearts. He leads and guides us so that we grow in Christ. Along with the gift of salvation, the Lord Jesus will grant us the ability to have true faith.

How Faith Works - Conclusion

What if we fail? Most likely, we will fail. While still living in this world we will continually wrestle with our sin nature. However, as we grow closer and closer to the Lord Jesus Christ, our faith will grow as well.

Go, today, to the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to save you and to grant you true faith! Today is the day of salvation. He will save you now!

God Bless You,


James 2 Devotionals

James 2 Introduction

Show No Partiality - verses 1-7

Do Justice, Love Mercy - verses 8-12

Faith vs Works - verses 13-17

Faith without Works is Dead - verses 18-20 & 26

How Faith Works - verses 21-25

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

Book of James

James 1

James 2