The Testimony of Three Witnesses: Faith Without Works is Dead!

I once had a testimony that the Mormon Church was true. When I discovered that my testimony was false I went searching to find the true church. I spent almost nine years between Mormonism and Christianity and met people from all different kinds of faiths. I discovered many people with a strong testimony in their church. I even met Atheists, Shamans and Agnostics with strongly held “faith” that what they believed was true. What I quickly realized is that the sincerity of a person’s “testimony” doesn’t necessarily mean that what they testify is true. It just means they have “faith” in something.

Through all my searching one thing I clearly believed was that I had to do something to live eternally with Heavenly Father. In the back of my head I always remembered that “faith without works was dead”. What I never knew is that these two teachings aren’t the same thing. It was exciting when I discovered that James’ point isn’t “how” we are saved, but how to identify real faith when we see it. He claims that what uniquely identifies a “faith” in the one true God is that it is alive! Faith is a gift from God placed in a person’s heart by the Holy Spirit. At that moment a person crosses over from spiritual death to being born again into a new spiritual life (John 5:24). Just as a newborn baby moves and breathes, someone with faith in God will do works—they just can’t help it! James emphasizes his point by saying that faith without works is like a dead body without a spirit. Even if someone claims to have a testimony of faith, if works are absent, that faith isn’t a true faith, its dead.

James uses three witnesses to make his point—himself, Abraham and Rahab. He uses the actions of these three witnesses as proof that a living faith always produces works. His first witness is himself. He contrasts his own life of both faith and works with that of a man who claims to have faith, yet has no works. His outward visible actions prove his testimony of faith.

Through Abraham’s witness, James gives us the vital key that faith comes first, and then works automatically follow. Because faith is living, like a living creature; it naturally produces the “fruit” of works. Similar to an apple tree bearing the fruit of an apple, a living faith will bear the fruit of good works, naturally and without being forced. Good works are merely proof that faith is present. Abraham’s willingness to offer Isaac on the altar was one of many actions that evidenced his faith. His actions were the “fruit” of his faith and proved his faith true. Because his faith was alive, his works followed. It was not his works that made his faith alive.

We read that Abraham’s actions fulfilled a scripture from Genesis: “Abraham believed God and it was imputed unto him as righteousness”. Here James clarifies that a person’s faith gains him righteousness and not his works. Abraham had been declared righteous by God many years before he proved his faith by his works, even long before Isaac was born! Abraham’s works did not make him righteous; his faith had already done that. Abraham’s works were merely evidence that he had already been made righteous by God.

The third witness is Rahab the harlot (who hid the spies at Jericho). Her strong faith and written testimony are found in Joshua: “for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above and in earth beneath”. Her life is a vivid example of how a woman had faith and then acted on it. Not only did she risk her life by rescuing Joshua’s spies, she lived the remainder of her life in Israel; got married and became the mother of Boaz, Jesse’s Grandfather and King David’s Great Grandmother.

In the Book of Mormon (Ether) we read about the testimony of a different group of three witnesses. These men were prophesied to one day declare to the world the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. But these three men all left Mormonism. Their lack of action is evidence that their faith was dead, their testimony false.

But, this was not all they claimed in their testimony. They also testified that one day they could be found spotless because of their own works. They testified: “And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ.” This testimony shows that they didn’t know what James knew and taught about Abraham: a person is found spotless in Gods eyes through their faith, and not their works!

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4 Comments

  1. bert10 said,

    December 23, 2008 at 12:26 am

    The question on faith and works is easily answered…When did Abraham received the promises?

    Only after he obeyed God in the things he was commanded in.

    Faith and works go hand in hand with each other. One without the other cannot exist.

    As for Abraham chapter 11 is a great chapter on faith…it tells why Abraham like many great prophets went to the grave instead of being translated into heaven.

    In chapter 11…it states clearly that Abraham sought for a city whose maker and founder is GOD and that it was in heavenly country. Yet Abraham went to the grave and here is why….

    Hebrews 11:13 – These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

    That is right except for Enoch and the inhabitants of Zion and Melchizedek and Salem all the great prophets and patriarchs went to the grave…in faith…

    1: these all died in the faith…..as opposed to living in the faith [translated/quickened/transfigured etc.]

    2. Not having received the promises…..The next part explain why these great man of faith did not received the promises of Eternal life in the flesh as for example Enoch….

    3. having seen them afar off….these men had put a time stamp on their faith so they died not having received the promises because they could not see that the power of GOD is always only active in the present.

    I think one should use Enoch as a man who had perfection of faith instead of Abraham who though had great faith did not receive the promises of eternal life in the flesh.

    Peace be unto you
    bert10

  2. latterdaysaintwoman said,

    December 23, 2008 at 9:45 am

    bert,

    I agree with these words you wrote: “Faith and works go hand in hand with each other. One without the other cannot exist.

    If you re-read my post, you will find that this is exactly what I said! In fact, it is the entire point of my post!

    You wrote: “When did Abraham receive the promises? Only after he obeyed God in the things he was commanded in.”

    Once again, if you re-read my post you will find that Abraham received his promise of righteousness before he obeyed God, and because of his faith.

    God’s blessings

  3. fern12 said,

    January 22, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Dear latterdaysaintwoman, I agree with you and bert: “Faith and works go hand in hand with each other” and if that is as far as it goes, then there is nothing to argue about, is there? The fact is, though, I certainly didn’t pick up on it that you said “exactly” that, or that it was “the entire point” of your post, even after I re-read it.

    To me, your entire post, contrary to what is found in Scripture, seems to imply that there is no human agency or free will involved in salvation. It seems like you are saying that God, or Christ, whimsically decides whether to “automatically” bless someone with faith and works sufficient for salvation, while denying others the blessing without any specific reason for doing so. In such a case, I would only conclude that God is an unjust God–thankfully, the Bible does not teach that, so I would rather go to the Bible for the correct doctrine than to your interpretation of it.

    I have no hard feelings toward you, though, and pray that all will be well with you.

  4. prayerwars said,

    February 3, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Thank you for your Testimony.
    Jesus is the Vine… and we are the branches… If we remain in Him thru Faith, our branch will give forth fruit… The fruit of the Spirit… This fruit is a direct result of the life that flows from the Vine, through us the branches. We ourselves are not the fruit, but rather we are an instrument by which God manifests fruit. We can no more produce fruit than we can manifest a branch. This is all God’s doing. To believe otherwise would be to make ourselves equal with God. Our command is to remain in Him. We by the penalty ofthe Law; God’s Law, were cut off from the tree of life. Then by faith we were grafted into the vine which is Christ. A branch can not graft itself… This action is done by God the Father. A branch by it’s own volition can not produce fruit\works. This an action of God the Father. Thus for a man to take credit for his works would be as a branch takng credit for producing fruit. Conversely, a branch that remains not in the vine can produce no fruit\works… Thus and James 2:14 correctly states… Faith without Works is Dead… because the whole branch is Dead! This is the message of the Book of James… Because he believed, Abraham was a branch thru whom God produced fruit\Works. This Truth is in agreement with the whole of the Bible… Gods Word.


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