By what WE do, as well? (part 3)
James makes the point from Abraham’s example that belief in God and his word is empty if it isn’t lived (James 2:17). And he’s got a point, because why would anyone believe in God in the first place if they didn’t know what living by his word actually did for them?
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. You only know if a pudding is good or bad by eating it. Up to that point it’s an unknown. Is it good or bad? Well, pick up a spoon and dive in, then you’ll know. And the same with Christianity. Is it good or bad? Who knows? It’s only a theory until proven true by experience.
So is that what James meant by Abraham doing what God told him to do and being credited with righteousness because of it – that you only find out by doing? Imagine being Abraham, though. He’s told by God to sacrifice his son (Genesis 22:2). But why on earth would God tell him to do that? Killing his son was weird enough, but kill the only means of continuing God’s promise through his descendants as well? God was clearly up to something, and it had to be good because God was God, but what good could it be?
The proof of the pudding was in the eating. It must have seemed totally crazy, but Abraham took the road that you can only figure out what’s going on by running with it. And faced with a similar unknown as to what God’s up to in what he says for us to do, what else can we do? As one author wrote: “All we can do is come to as good an evaluation by reason as we possibly can, and then plunge in and try it – test it, leap out on it, put our weight upon it.” Hold your nose at the deep end and jump in.
And this is included in salvation? Well, how are we going to find out what salvation even is, or what it means, and what it results in, unless we give it a whirl? And God’s all for us doing that too. It’s why he credited Abraham with righteousness. But first of all, he gave Abraham a good reason for diving in. He said things to Abraham that really got his attention. And he does the same for us. He says things in his word that awakens faith in us too (Romans 10:17). It just rings true.
So his word sounds good, and trying it will prove it, but why try it? What’s the point of trying it? What is it supposed to result in? Well, James covers that too…(more on this tomorrow)