Saturday, July 25, 2009


Both the writer of Hebrews and James talk about faith in a very distinct way from Paul. For the writer of Hebrews, faith is that which must be maintained for the people to have vital and true endurance, especially in the face of religious and political pressure. The 18 instances of "by faith" in Hebrews 11 are historic examples for the people to be encouraged by [Heb 12.1-2].

James sees faith in a similar light. James shows that sincere and persevering faith will manifest itself. That's how it happened with Abraham. He believed in Gen 15 and then "proved" his belief in Gen 22. James says that faith "produces" endurance [1.2-4]. This verb for "produces" comes from the same Greek root as the noun for "works" in Js 2.14-26. The same is true for the "effectual" doers of Js 1.25.

But what is the purpose of the lasting faith of Hebrews and the working faith of James? Why do the biblical writers exhort their audiences to these ends?

The purpose of these differing emphases on faith is Christian maturity, fulfilling how God desires for you to live. This is seen in that the same root is used in Heb 5.9, 5.14, 6.1, 7.11, 7.19, 7.25, 7.28, 9.9, 9.11, 9.26, 10.1, 10.14, 11.40, 12.2, 12.23 and in Js 1.4, 1.4, 1.15, 2.22, 3.2, 5.11.

For the Hebrews, they shouldn't have been drifting away [2.1-4]; they had need of endurance [10.36]. For the scattered 12 tribes, their faith needed to work with works for this maturity [2.22].

For us, we are liars if any one of us thinks we are outside these two needs: persevering maturity and/or evidential maturity. Lord, thank you for the grace in Hebrews [13.25] and James [4.6].

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