“Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?”
Do you see
James wants the objector to see the truth of this verse. Each of us must see this principle for ourselves. This responsibility falls on our own shoulder. No one can swim for us; we must get into the water.
that faith was working together with his works,
The words “working…with…works” are emphatic in the Greek. Faith and works are partners in labor working together at the same time. By offering Isaac on an altar, Abraham became the “friend of God” (2:23). Abraham’s faith and his works were partners. They assisted each other and cooperated with each other. They engaged in activity together because they needed each other. Faith is the motivation and foundation for works. Works is the manifestation and result of faith. It is impossible to have biblical application without faith, for works have no motivation of their own.
The joint relationship is the dynamic at the foundation of the deed. So Abraham’s faith was in a God of the resurrection. He knew more than information about God; he knew God Himself personally (Romans 4:19-21).
Abraham believed that God was able to solve his sexual deadness and give him a child even at his advanced age in life. He believed that even though he sacrificed Isaac, God would raise Isaac from the dead to keep His covenant with Abraham (Hebrews 11:17-19).
and by works faith was made perfect?
Works brings faith to its goal and fullness. The purpose of a berry bush is to produce berries. The berry bush has the genetic composition for producing berries. True faith does not reach its fulfillment until it produces works of righteousness. Works are the effect of a dynamic faith. Works also make faith stronger. Maturity of faith is a result of connecting faith and works together. Without works our faith is a dead faith. With works, our faith shows its maturity to others (Ephesians 2:10).
Abraham’s faith matured by works. He moved from believing that God would deal with his sexual deadness to being confident that He would raise his son Isaac from the dead. His faith grew and developed. This does not imply that his faith was faulty but simply that it was incomplete. He developed his faith by exercising it.
Works strengthen and mature of faith.
This verse does not teach us where we should place our trust but demonstrates the effect of faith in the sight of men. The car we drive may be a symbol of financial prosperity. Likewise the application of principle to experience shows the reality of our faith. We cannot have genuine belief in the principles of the Word without living them out in our experience.
We cannot separate works from our life of faith as Christians. Production brings faith to its goal. Our faith needs to be developed. When developed, it produces fruit. A living faith works itself out into life situations.
Our faith will not reach its goal without appropriating the promises and principles of God’s Word by faith. That appropriation is an act of faith. We believe that God’s principles are true for our lives. That glorifies God because God Himself is the goal of our lives. Each time we take God at His Word, we demonstrate that God is trustworthy. With each time we believe Him, our faith grows stronger. Taking action on our faith builds our faith.