"Faith Which Worketh Through Love"

James R. Cope
Tampa, Florida

"Can you tell me what saving faith is?" asked the master of an old Negro. "Yas, sah, I sho' can," replied Rastus. "You see dat rock wall ovah dar? Supposin' dat wall am eight foot thru and supposin' de Lawd, he say, 'Rastus, you jump right thru dat wall.' Marse Henry, if I has livin', lovin', savin' faith, hit am my business to jump and de good Lawd's business to make de hole!"

When Paul said, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith working through love" (ASV, Gal. 5:6), he gave the principle upon which Rastus commented to his master. In this text the apostle is saying that a man's past, whether Jew or Gentile, merits nothing before God, but that which counts with God is his present disposition-a faith in the Son of God expressing itself in loving service to Him.

Three Key Words

There are three key words in our text: "faith," "working", and "love." Each is essential to the other two when we contemplate that which pleases God. It is not faith plus working without love that pleases Him. Nor is it faith plus love apart from working that meets His approval. Neither is it love

with work minus faith which God requires. Rather "faith" is the actor, "work" the action, and "love" the attitude which determines the acceptability of the faith expressed and distinguishes the disciple of Jesus Christ from the fleshly features of Jew or Gentile.

The faith that justifies is the faith that works. In fact, there is no faith which pleases God if it fails to work. There are those who teach otherwise when they declare that "wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort." This proclamation of the Methodist Discipline is in direct opposition to the proclamation of the Holy Spirit who says that "by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (Jas. 1:24).

In the text before us faith is personified. It is pictured as a person as is love in I Corinthians, chapter 13. Actually, however, a person possesses "faith" and being possessed, faith is described

Character ------------ Faith ------------ Action ------------ Blessing

Abel ------------ By faith -------------- Offered sacrifice ------------ Declared righteous

Noah ----------- By faith -------------- Prepared ark ------------ Became heir of righteousness

Abraham ------- By faith ------------ Obeyed ------------------ Land and city with foundations

Moses --------- By faith ------------- Refused - chose -------- Recompense of reward ------ Forsook - endured saw invisible

Israelites ---------- By faith" ------------ Crossed Red Sea ------ Delivered ------ walls fell