Faith alone in Christ alone will not save one from God’s discipline (I Cor. 11:30; I John 5:16; James 5:19-20; Hebrews 12:5-11) nor from an unfavorable judgment at the bema seat of Christ (II Cor. 5:10) And faith alone in Christ alone does not automatically save one from the power of sin (sanctification) when the believers fails to cooperate with the Spirit of God through the word of God – fails to be a doer of the word. (1:21, 22)
If one refuses to help with the physical needs of a genuinely needy brother/sister, he is showing no mercy and violating the royal law. “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (I John 3:17) This does not profit the needy brother/sister. Meeting a need of another proves that works are good and profitable to men (Titus 3:8) Good works of meeting urgent needs will make one fruitful as well. In this case, the lack of physical provision on the part of the brother shows that he is being unfruitful. (Titus 3:14) Being unfruitful is being unfaithful. And since faithfulness of service is judged by Christ, it can be concluded that ongoing unfruitfulness may result in a poor commendation by our Lord (I Cor. 4:5) and loss of reward but will never affect salvation.
There are a number of individuals in Scripture that appear to be unfruitful for much of their lives, yet God sees them as redeemed. Lot is an example. The Bible calls him righteous although much of his life was spent participating in the world system of Sodom. (II Peter 2:7) Solomon was turned away from the Lord by his many wives and concubines and did not fully follow the Lord. (I Kings 11:6) Jesus taught the parable of the sower. The seed that fell on the rocky ground was an illustration of those who believe for a while and in time of temptation (testing) fall away. (Luke 8:13) The seed that fell among the thorns represented ones who are distracted with the cares of the world and pleasures of life and bring no fruit to maturity. (Luke 8:14) And the only one that is not saved is the first one, the seed by the wayside, “lest they should believe and be saved.” (Like 8:12) One of Paul’s companion, Demas, forsook him having loved this present world. (II Timothy 4:10) Paul delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan so that they would learn not to blasphemy. (I Timothy 1:20) He did the same thing to a Corinthian man who had a sexual relationship with his father’s wife. The purpose was for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (I Cor. 5:5) In fact he admonished the church for not disciplining this man for his sexual immorality. And since church discipline is designed only for believers, then one must conclude that the apostle saw him as one who had trusted in the Lord as his Savior.
Furthermore, the fact that James refers to them as brother and sister in verse fourteen indicates that he is speaking of believers. Many believers fail miserably throughout their life time. All of us fail to one extent or another. How many works does it take then to ‘prove’ I am saved? How much lack of works and unfruitfulness does it take to prove that I am not saved? Those are questions that the Bible does not answer. The reason I believe is that it does not take any works or fruitfulness to prove that one is saved. The only proof is based on the word of God that one has believed on the Lord Jesus as Savior. (Acts 16:31; John 6:47; I John 5:13)
Part 4 Tomorrow