What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!
This was the passage that Pastor Bala expounded for us this morning. To illustrate the man who would glory in his faith apart from works, he showed us the example of Talkative from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.
“. . . I will talk of things heavenly, or things earthly; things moral, or things evangelical; things sacred, or things profane; things past, or things to come; things foreign, or things at home; things more essential, or things circumstantial: provided that all be done to our profit.“
Faithful was impressed, but did not stay impressed for long, because Christian apprised him about Talkative, whom he knew well, saying:
“This man is for any company, and for any talk; as he talketh now with you, so will he talk when he is on the ale-bench; and the more drink he hath in his crown, the more of these things he hath in his mouth. Religion hath no place in his heart, or house, or conversation; all he hath lieth in his tongue, and his religion is to make a noise therewith.
“. . . He talketh of prayer, of repentance, of faith, and of the new birth; but he knows but only to talk of them. I have been in his family, and have observed him both at home and abroad; and I know what I say of him is the truth. His house is as empty of religion as the white of an egg is of savor. There is there neither prayer, nor sign of repentance for sin; yea, the brute, in his kind, serves God far better than he. He is the very stain, reproach, and shame of religion to all that know him, Rom. 2:24,25; it can hardly have a good word in all that end of the town where he dwells, through him. Thus say the common people that know him, “A saint abroad, and a devil at home.” His poor family finds it so . . .“
When Faithful engages in conversation with Talkative after this, he is careful, as we can see from the excerpt below:
FAITHFUL: ” . . . How doth the saving grace of God discover itself when it is in the heart of man?”
TALKATIVE: “I perceive, then, that our talk must be about the power of things. Well, it is a very good question, and I shall be willing to answer you. And take my answer in brief, thus: First, where the grace of God is in the heart, it causeth there a great outcry against sin. Secondly- ”
FAITHFUL: “Nay, hold; let us consider of one at once. I think you should rather say, it shows itself by inclining the soul to abhor its sin.”
TALKATIVE: “Why, what difference is there between crying out against, and abhorring of sin?”
FAITHFUL: “Oh! a great deal. A man may cry out against sin, of policy; but he cannot abhor it but by virtue of a godly antipathy against it. I have heard many cry out against sin in the pulpit, who yet can abide it well enough in the heart, house, and conversation. Gen. 39:15. Joseph’s mistress cried out with a loud voice, as if she had been very holy; but she would willingly, notwithstanding that, have committed uncleanness with him. Some cry out against sin, even as the mother cries out against her child in her lap, when she calleth it slut and naughty girl, and then falls to hugging and kissing it.”
TALKATIVE: “You lie at the catch, I perceive.”
FAITHFUL: “No, not I; I am only for setting things right. But what is the second thing whereby you would prove a discovery of a work of grace in the heart?”
TALKATIVE: “Great knowledge of gospel mysteries.”
FAITHFUL: “This sign should have been first: but, first or last, it is also false; for knowledge, great knowledge, may be obtained in the mysteries of the Gospel, and yet no work of grace in the soul. Yea, if a man have all knowledge, he may yet be nothing, and so, consequently, be no child of God. When Christ said, Do you know all these things? and the disciples answered, Yes, he added, Blessed are ye if ye do them. He doth not lay the blessing in the knowing of them, but in the doing of them. For there is a knowledge that is not attended with doing: He that knoweth his Master’s will, and doeth it not. A man may know like an angel, and yet be no Christian: therefore your sign of it is not true. Indeed, to know is a thing that pleaseth talkers and boasters; but to do is that which pleaseth God. Not that the heart can be good without knowledge, for without that the heart is naught. There are, therefore, two sorts of knowledge, knowledge that resteth in the bare speculation of things, and knowledge that is accompanied with the grace of faith and love, which puts a man upon doing even the will of God from the heart: the first of these will serve the talker; but without the other, the true Christian is not content. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.“