In which “I’ll never let go” is revisited

by Craig on May 4, 2011

And now the verses James the Just is famous for…

It's a little on the "evoutionary" side for me - but it's funny.

First, two questions:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? (James 2:14)

They’re rhetorical questions, each expecting the answer “no”.

It’s not a guess that they’re rhetorical – James is going to make that clear as wind chimes ringing in the morning breeze.

A closer look – and some Greek – you know I heart me some Greek…

ἐὰν πίστιν λέγῃ τις ἔχειν

(pronounced ian peestin legay tis — ekeen)
(it has a rhythm too – like this “When a kid goes out to play. Oh boy.)
(ian peestin legay tis — ekeen) (ἐὰν πίστιν λέγῃ τις ἔχειν)

Keep sayin’ it this way and you’re talkin’ Greek!

The ‘word for word’ translation is “if faith says one to have”

The best translation I can come up with is a little more nuanced and polished, “Should someone keep on saying they have faith…”.

What’s with the “keep on saying” part?

Because I know everyone is itching for some cool Greek grammar, I’ll share some…

This little gaggle of Greek words is a 3rd class conditional sentence, with the verbs being in the present subjunctive form.

So….

this means not just saying, but saying again and again.

You know, like when a husband says “I did remember to make that reservation honey. I did. I did. I did!”

It implies a little bit of guilt. No?

A little uncertainty. No?

“Thou protesteth too much”. No?

I think James wrote it this way because anyone not having the “works of love” to back up the proclamation of faith, should be a little bit uncertain about guilt being removed, as they hold on as tight to these repeated words as Rose held on to Jack in Titanic.

Oh.

Meh.

Wait…

“I’ll never let go Jack. I’ll never let go!” she cried.

But she did.

She let go.

How true were those repeated words?

Anybody think Rose felt a little guilty about that?

Those are rhetorical questions – like the ones James wrote…

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

By the way – the “having of works” matches the “saying of faith” – it means “keep on having works of love”.

And why do I say “works of love”? It’s context. James never really means “works” to be those of the Law of Moses – the “law” he writes of is the perfect law of freedom – Our Lord’s law of love.

So if I say I’m Christian,
or keep saying it,
it means nothing,
if I keep not obeying the law of love.

Obviously I’m not called to be perfect. We aren’t called to be perfect – because that’s impossible for a mere human.

But I think James is saying,
that if I bear the name of God,
call myself Christian,
and am not on a constant quest for love,
not Titanic love,
but 1st Corinthians love,
then maybe I should not “keep on saying”
I have faith.

It’s the quest,
not perfection,
not in this life,
but the quest to reach for that perfection,
the heart to want to make it happen now.

That’s faith. No?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracy May 4, 2011 at 11:22 am

Very cool that you wrote about exactly what we studied in Bible Study last not. Not the verse, but the works/faith/love. I only disagree with one little part and that is the Law of Moses comment. Christ didn’t come to abolish the Law, he came to fulfill it and he did. The sacrificial system of the Law. As for the rest…you still have to obey your parents and you still have to not steal, kill or covet,etc. (down the line of the 620 laws- minus the Levitical/ Sacrificial ones). The beauty is Christ took away the penalty of breaking them. DEATH. And so we now have the FREEDOM (Grace-unmerited favor) in Him, to willingly obey Him/Them, not to mention we have no excuse not to since we have the HS living in us! And therefore bear FRUIT (works) in LOVE as the curse is REMOVED! Get busy people doing something for the Kingdom….tell others about HIM people, what are you waiting for, they are DYING for the TRUTH! 😉

P.S. Loved the Greek!

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Craig May 4, 2011 at 12:09 pm

We can disagree on the Law thing – and thank you for that nice disagreement. That’s just one more reason why I blog here – in this community – and not other ones. I was going with the immediate context thing – that James refers to the “law” – and even defines it with new words, “the royal law of freedom”. Different from Mosaic law. Anyway – I get what you are saying – and I heart it – thank you. And I heart your zeal!!! Contageous :) Thank you Tracy – thank you much. God bless you.

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A. May 4, 2011 at 11:50 am

First, that first photo is hilarious!!!!

Second, this is such a tough thing. We do need to have works that testify of our love for Him. We/they shall know them/us by our fruits. Where this gets messy for me is when some non-believers have much better fruit than do folk who claim to be believers. The quick answer to that might be something like “Well, they-the believers- are a work in progress”. Well, how is it that a non-believer can appear to still be a better work in progress? I think it is because the fruit that ‘we’ tend to look for and use as validation is the wrong fruit entirely. I think it takes a keener eye and sense and understanding to see true fruit. Yet, I think non-believers can sense it. ‘Church’ people may miss it because they are so caked in their notions of what fruit should look like.

Your summation, though, takes care of some of this. Even there, man looks on the outward; God on the heart. That makes me wonder why I should even be checking out the fruit of another? Round it goes. Somewhere in all that I have to just take a break from the merry-go-round and go have me a serious piece of good food or a walk or something to clear my circuits.

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Craig May 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm

A. SOme of the most moral people I’ve ever known have been atheists – and as for a believer not bearing fruit – I think there’s a difference between aiming at righteousness and occasionally missing the mark – and aiming at sin and occasionally hitting the target.

This – btw – is kind of a brilliant thought. “Church’ people may miss it because they are so caked in their notions of what fruit should look like.” We are to be as strict as Scripture – not more – not less. It is a fine line though – church leadership does have a biblical responsibility to observe and “judge” the flock. But then if we were all confessing our sins to each other as we should, and looking in the mirror, and getting rid f the planks in our own eyes – there would be a whole lot less to judge. Somehow A. I think you and I will be talking more about this. :)

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Debbie May 5, 2011 at 1:59 am

Thank you Craig, Tracey and A, for my faith and works lessons today. Just in my life, I think the enemy tries to discourage me that my works aren’t good enough, so therefore my faith must not be real. Or I would/could do more. So, your your explaining that it’s the quest . . .that quieted me to keep going. God bless you and your Greek. :)

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Craig May 6, 2011 at 11:03 am

So true – your works aren’t good enough – mine either – NOTHING we do is perfect – we need Grace even when we’re most angelic – but God hearts the good efforts – I think he really does Deb. It’s the quest – it really is – the quest – and then Grace. Thank you for hearting the Greek Deb – I worry sometimes it’s too much. God bless.

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Debra May 5, 2011 at 2:19 am

So true dear Craig. It’s all about the heart’s longings. And the heart that desires God above all else is the heart that will be perfected in love.

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Craig May 6, 2011 at 11:05 am

Sorry late getting back Debra – first the Laska thing and then a terribly dark day – heavy – oppressive! It is, as you put it, “all about the heart’s longings.” Our Lord knows – pretense is useless – it’s the heart – and that’s what he sees. Thank you as always Debra – it’s a delight that you read me. God Bless!!!

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Hillcrest Cottage May 5, 2011 at 7:45 am

There’s an old, country expression that says, “What’s in the well will come up in the bucket.” I think ‘faith’ and ‘works’ are as simple as this truth found in farmville. If we have deep faith, it WILL produce works.

We can judge outward fruit (and we should) but, ultimately, only God can judge the heart. Conversely, if I truly know someone, their true heart always has a way of revealing itself, and, also, the Holy Spirit inside of one Believer testifies to the Holy Spirit in another Believer… and most of the time… you just know in your spirit that what you are seeing is real.

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Craig May 6, 2011 at 11:07 am

First – I’m sorry I’m so late responding, it’s been a horrendous couple of days – but Our Lord is good – he’s good. And your wisdom – I’m so thankful for that – it’s so absolutely brilliant. I heart the well and bucket thing. Thank you – I love learning when I read my comments. You taught me today. God Bless you!!!

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Shar July 13, 2011 at 11:33 am

I like your thoughts. I think they really make a difference in the lives of many.
Check your template settings: The tag : “an everyday swim in the deepest end of the pool”, reads like : “an everyday swim in the deepest end of the poo” . It’s cut off on my screen and it’s not my settings.
Your blog is too good for such a simple technical nuance to cause distraction.
Keep writing!

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Craig July 13, 2011 at 1:07 pm

thank you Shar – wow – I can’t believe that I did that. I’ll fix that! And really, thank you for your kind words. God bless and keep you and yours this day!

PS I hopped over to your blog and saw that the last post was from a long time ago – do you still currently blog – or too busy?

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