There’s no free lunch. At least that’s what many of us have been taught to believe. I know recently some have come to think they should get free lunch. They deserve it somehow; their rich uncle owes it to them (Uncle Sam). But deep down most of us know that if you want anything good in life, you have to work for it. You have to earn it. Maybe that’s part of the reason some people have such a hard time embracing the gospel. It seems incredible, perhaps even unfair, that a Divine being would dole out free lunch passes with no expiration date.
But the fact is, salvation is free. It is a gift, in no way dependent on what we might do to merit it. It’s all of God and none of us. We can’t buy the lunch pass, and nothing we do will convince God to give us one. It’s simply a gift he chooses to give. The question is not what WE DO to earn it; rather, it’s a matter of what GOD HAS DONE to make the free lunch possible. Make no mistake. The lunch wasn’t free for him. It cost him the life of his only Son. But it has been paid for in full. Now it’s offered as a gift.
It is by grace you have been saved, Paul said. And this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Like any true gift, salvation cannot be earned. Otherwise, it would not be a gift. It is not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8, 9). The only bragging going on in heaven will be about the benevolence of the gift-giver. This amazing grace-gift is received through faith. But even faith is a gift from God!
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written, ‘The righteous will live by faith (Romans 1:16, 17).
We’re saved by faith alone, but saving faith is never alone. Faith always produces deeds. Verbal faith is not enough. You have to walk the talk. James says that faith without deeds is dead (2:26). Saving faith has a full life, robust and active. Faith goes to work every day. Otherwise it’s not living faith.
But what does living faith look like, exactly? How does faith live? How does it act? How does it talk? What does it wear it to work? How does it respond to crisis? In his letter, James fully integrates faith and everyday living, insisting all along that faith works.
As we walk through James’ letter together in this sermon series on Sunday mornings, we’re going to see firsthand how faith works. We’ll discover that faith obeys God’s Word, removes discrimination, controls speech, and produces humility and true wisdom. Faith confronts erring brothers, prays for the hurting, and joyfully endures trials and temptations. In short, faith rolls up its sleeves and works!