“Faith Divorced from Deeds Is Lifeless as a Corpse”
“Of what benefit is it, my brothers, if a certain one says he has faith but he does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it?”—Jas. 2:14.
1. Define faith, and what are some of the ideas that definition conveys?
WHEN we speak of faith we think of one’s belief in God. The apostle Paul, in describing faith to Hebrew Christians, said: “Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” (Heb. 11:1) An assured expectation has something backing it up. It conveys the idea that this expectation is guaranteed, that there will be a future possession. Some suggest that faith is like a title deed of things hoped for. Faith can also involve fidelity to one’s promises or allegiance to duty. One who has faith in Jehovah God and in his Son, Christ Jesus, would want to show loyalty, acting in full harmony with Jehovah’s ways and advocating them to others.—Ps. 145:10, 11.
2, 3. (a) What constitutes true Christian faith? (b) To what extent did the disciples of Jesus spread that true faith? (c) What part did the apostle Paul have in spreading that true faith?
2 What Jesus Christ taught his disciples and what has been passed on to all Christians down through the centuries by means of the Word of God constitutes true Christian faith. (Eph. 1:15-17; 4:5) In the early days of Christianity, when the disciples of Jesus spoke the things that Jesus had taught them, many believed and put faith in Christ Jesus and his teachings. The disciples gave priority to this work of preaching and teaching. “Consequently the word of God went on growing, and the number of the disciples kept multiplying in Jerusalem very much; and a great crowd of priests began to be obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7) This good news that was preached by the disciples certainly spread out, and their own faith in that good news became well known; so, when Paul was writing to the Romans, he could truthfully say: “First of all, I give thanks to my God through Jesus Christ concerning all of you, because your faith is talked about throughout the whole world.”—Rom. 1:8.
3 Paul was a real evangelizer, a proclaimer of the good news. He learned of Jesus Christ, who through his death on the torture stake provided the means for taking away the sin of the world, and Paul learned about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Paul was so deeply appreciative of the significance of these things that he felt everyone should know about them. So he traveled thousands of miles, much of it on foot, preaching and teaching. He opened up new territory as a missionary would, and brought to many people of many nations the message that would provide them a basis for faith.
“The Word of Faith Which We Proclaim”
4. What was “the word of faith” that Paul proclaimed, and how did he share in proclaiming it?
4 Paul told people, as he wrote to the Romans: “‘The word is near you: it is upon your lips and in your heart.’ This means the word of faith which we proclaim. If on your lips is the confession, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and in your heart the faith that God raised him from the dead, then you will find salvation. For the faith that leads to righteousness is in the heart, and the confession that leads to salvation is upon the lips.” (Rom. 10:8-10, The New English Bible) Paul spoke in synagogues, along river banks, in schools, in prison, in private homes, to all kinds of people, Jews and Greeks, and crowds of various sizes. When Paul spoke, the “word” was brought near them, so near that they could repeat it with their own lips and cherish it in their own hearts. Some did believe and exercise such faith in their hearts.
5. For the expression of faith to result in a righteous standing before God, it must include faith in whom?
5 Concerning the “faith that leads to righteousness,” Paul wrote to the Romans: “What shall we say, then? That people of the nations, although not pursuing righteousness, caught up with righteousness, the righteousness that results from faith; but Israel, although pursuing a law of righteousness, did not attain to the law.” (Rom. 9:30, 31) It is quite evident that due to Paul’s evangelism many Gentiles were aided to catch up with righteousness. The other disciples, too, through their teaching in many cities brought thousands of Gentiles to a knowledge of Christ Jesus, and these caught up with righteousness, the righteousness that results from faith in the Son of God. From what Paul pointed out to the Jews who made great efforts to keep the Mosaic law, they were never able to attain righteousness. “Why was this? Because their efforts were not based on faith, but (as they supposed) on deeds. They fell over the ‘stone’ mentioned in Scripture: ‘Here I lay in Zion a stone to trip over, a rock to stumble against; but he who has faith in him will not be put to shame.’”—Rom. 9:32, 33, NE.
6. (a) Why did Jews as a nation reject Jesus as the Messiah, and so to whom was the message that “Jesus is Lord” proclaimed? (b) On what was the “word of faith” Paul spoke of based?
6 The law that was given to the Jews was to be a tutor leading them to Christ. It was to bring them to the Messiah and aid them to recognize him and to accept him as their instructor and Lord when he came. (Gal. 3:24) Yet most of them, lacking faith, stumbled over the very one to whom God’s righteous law was directing them, namely, God’s Son. So, now, the “word” or message that “Jesus is Lord” was being proclaimed not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles, to all the nations. This “word” from God is made readily available to people everywhere. Paul’s letter to the Romans said that the “word is near you: it is upon your lips and in your heart.” But what will the individual do about it? If the “word” really gets down into his heart he will believe. He will have faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and as the one through whom God will carry out all His grand promises. (2 Cor. 1:20) In order to have such faith he must have knowledge—first of all, knowledge of God and knowledge of what He has said and done, because the provision for salvation through Christ originates with God. God himself raised Jesus from the dead. This is what Paul is trying to convince people about, especially the Romans in his day. Sometimes it was necessary in Paul’s day to impress upon even those who claimed to be dedicated to God the significance of these fundamental truths. Paul was proclaiming “the word of faith.” What was that faith based on? There were two very definite things that Paul had in mind, and so must we 1,900 years later. To be a Christian one must hear “the word of faith” and be convinced (1) That Jesus, the Son of God, is Lord, that by his sacrificial death he purchased mankind and so he must be acknowledged by Christians as their owner; also, (2) That Jehovah God raised Jesus from the dead. Of course, you would want some proof of these two things since they are essential for one’s finding salvation, that is, finding everlasting life.—2 Cor. 5:14, 15.
7. Because of strong faith, what did Jesus’ disciples recognize about the identity of Jesus, but how did the Pharisees react?
7 The disciples that walked with Christ Jesus nineteen centuries ago had a marvelous opportunity to acquire strong faith because they really walked with the Son of God. They heard him speak while he was here upon the earth as a human creature and after his resurrection too. When Jesus asked his followers: “Who do you say I am?” they could answer with conviction that he was the Messiah, the Son of God. (Matt. 16:15, 16) But on this matter the faithless Pharisees were put in a position where they could no longer answer Jesus. The record is set forth at Matthew 22:41-46: “Now while the Pharisees were gathered together Jesus asked them: ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?’ They said to him: ‘David’s.’ He said to them: ‘How, then, is it that David by inspiration calls him “Lord,” saying, “Jehovah said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies beneath your feet’”? If, therefore, David calls him “Lord,” how is he his son?’ And nobody was able to say a word in reply to him.”
8, 9. (a) What must Christians confess about Jesus to show their faith, and how are they to demonstrate that they really believe this? (b) Then what further step is necessary to show one’s faith?
8 Peter, however, on the day of Pentecost made it clear who this “Lord” was and that he was at the right hand of God. He said: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you impaled.” (Acts 2:36) Just as the apostles and the early Christians did, so Christians right down to this day make confession with their lips that Jesus is Lord. If they are true Christians, this is more than a verbal expression, however. They demonstrate their submission to Christ as Lord by doing the will of Jesus’ Father, as Jesus taught his disciples to do. (Matt. 7:21; John 15:8) Christians must believe something else too, and that is that Jesus was resurrected from the dead by God. Peter confirmed this on the day of Pentecost. He said: “This Jesus God resurrected, of which fact we are all witnesses.” (Acts 2:32) Now do you believe these two fundamental facts stated by both Paul and Peter, that “Jesus is Lord” and that “this Jesus God resurrected” from the dead? If you do, then there is something you have to do about it, namely, make confession of your faith with your lips. Those who make such a heartfelt confession should get baptized. The apostle Peter urged those who heard him speak at Pentecost of 33 C.E. to do that. “Therefore those who embraced his word heartily were baptized, and on that day about three thousand souls were added.”—Acts 2:40, 41.
9 Think of it: about three thousand of those to whom Peter spoke were baptized! They were added to the congregation and they continued devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles and they personally shared in preaching the good news to others.—Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 8:1, 4.
10. (a) How did the apostle Paul seek to encourage the Roman congregation to zealous activity? (b) What, then, would they do to prove their faith, setting what example for Christians today?
10 Many years later, about 56 C.E., the apostle Paul was writing to the Christian congregation in Rome. That congregation may have been established by some Jews or proselytes from Rome who had visited Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, 33 C.E. They may have witnessed the miraculous outpouring of the holy spirit then. (Acts 2:1-5, 10) Now twenty-three years had passed. In the meantime Paul had become an apostle to the nations, and being interested in the congregation in Rome he was trying to stir them up to greater activity so this good news of the Kingdom would be preached even more widely than it had been up to that time. The things in which they confessed faith before baptism also were to be declared publicly after baptism so that others might believe. Paul wrote: “If on your lips is the confession, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and in your heart the faith that God raised him from the dead, then you will find salvation.” (Rom. 10:9, NE) If they really believed this they would be zealous in preaching it to others. They must prove their faith by the things that were on their lips, by expressing their belief to other people that Jesus truly is Lord. They must prove by their actions that they believed that Jesus had been exalted to a position second only to God and that “every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:9-11) We, too, must give evidence that we have such faith. Of course, in order to believe that, every Christian must also believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, and that Jehovah God in heaven did this for his Son. Paul shows in his letter that he was convinced of it, and he was trying to persuade all readers of his letter that they should tell out the information that Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from the dead. In that way the individual will find salvation. Of course, one who is saved is a winner. He overcomes the world. He will gain life everlasting.
11, 12. How does Romans 10:10 show true faith must be deep-seated?
11 Paul emphasizes the need of faith, not only in these two things, Jesus’ being Lord and the resurrection, but, of course, in all the things that Jesus taught. This faith must be deep-seated, not superficial, not something that is just on the surface; “the faith that leads to righteousness is in the heart, and the confession that leads to salvation is upon the lips.”—Rom. 10:10, NE.
12 World wide today the Christian witnesses of Jehovah are making this confession. Peoples of all nations in hundreds of languages are learning the truth of God’s Word. Christians must prove that they have faith by the deeds they perform.
Of What Good Are Words Without Deeds?
13. Though not a disciple of Jesus to begin with, what course of faith did James, the half brother of Jesus, eventually follow?
13 The disciple James, a half brother of Jesus, was undoubtedly acquainted with his brother’s activities, but there is no indication that he was a disciple who followed Jesus during his earthly ministry. James may have been among those relatives of his that said of Jesus: “He has gone out of his mind.” (Mark 3:21) However, very likely it is this James that saw Jesus after his resurrection. Paul evidently had him in mind when he wrote to the Corinthians: “After that he appeared to upward of five hundred brothers at one time . . . After that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” (1 Cor. 15:6, 7) So it is likely that this James, after the death of Jesus and prior to Pentecost of 33 C.E., assembled for prayer together with his mother and the apostles and others in the upper chamber in Jerusalem. (Acts 1:13, 14) He became a believer that Jesus is Lord, and he also knew that Jesus was raised from the dead. James later became a prominent follower of Christ Jesus and, in later years, was one of those who shared in deciding matters on behalf of all the congregations when the body of elders met in Jerusalem.—Acts 15:6, 13.
14. (a) How did James show the interrelation of faith and good works? (b) What words of Jesus do we have to show the basis on which he is now separating people, with either life or death in view?
14 James wrote some very strong things to his Christian brothers, and he dealt with this matter of faith. He looked at it in the same way that Paul did. James expressed it in this way: “My brothers, what use is it for a man to say he has faith when he does nothing to show it?” (Jas. 2:14, NE) An individual has no reason to brag about his faith if he does not have works to back it up. Really his claim that he has faith is spurious. To illustrate this important matter of appropriate works James puts a question to the congregation: “If a brother or a sister is in a naked state and lacking the food sufficient for the day, yet a certain one of you says to them: ‘Go in peace, keep warm and well fed,’ but you do not give them the necessities for their body, of what benefit is it?” (Jas. 2:15, 16) Works are needed to demonstrate that the desire expressed in the words is genuine. We recall that Jesus said: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. . . . and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you. . . . I was a stranger and you received me hospitably; naked, and you clothed me. . . . To the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”—Matt. 25:31-40.
15, 16. (a) What explanation do we have of the word “naked” found at Matthew 25:36? (b) How can a person do good works to Jesus’ “brothers” and not just be saying, in effect, “Good luck to you”?
15 Persons would not necessarily have to be literally naked to be in need of help. The footnote of the New World Translation on Matthew 25:36 says: “Or, ‘not sufficiently dressed’; in the common language the original word for this expression meant ‘lightly clad, in the undergarment only,’ hence scantily dressed, not necessarily nude or naked.” Whether the person is naked or just lightly clad, the individual seeing the condition of the “stranger” should not simply say, “Go in peace, keep warm and well fed.” Of course, we cannot offer such aid to Jesus personally, but we can do so to his “brothers,” spirit-anointed Christians who are alive here on earth. Do you offer such help to them, doing so both because you see their need and because you know that they belong to Christ?—Matt. 10:41, 42.
16 James points out that words that are not backed up with acts are of no value. Just saying the words “Keep warm” will not benefit your Christian brother or sister. Another translation puts the words of James this way: “Suppose a brother or a sister is in rags with not enough food for the day, and one of you says, ‘Good luck to you, keep yourselves warm, and have plenty to eat’, but does nothing to supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?” (NE) If one wants to see persons keep themselves warm, then it will take a little work on the part of the Christian to see to it that the persons are kept warm by giving them something, not just saying, “Good luck to you,” and doing nothing to supply the bodily needs. In like manner, faith must be accompanied by works. Faith must be backed up with action.
Is Your Faith Dead or Alive?
17. What is the point of James 2:18?
17 James goes on to say: “So with faith; if it does not lead to action, it is in itself a lifeless thing.” (Jas. 2:17, NE) That is true. James now introduces an imaginary person, and says: “Nevertheless, a certain one will say: ‘You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith apart from the works, and I shall show you my faith by my works.’” (Jas. 2:18) The point being discussed is not whether works in harmony with the Mosaic law lead to salvation or faith in Jesus Christ does. Rather, faith that is real and alive is being contrasted with a dead or lifeless faith. Another translation presents it in this way: “But someone may object: ‘Here is one who claims to have faith and another who points to his deeds.’ To which I reply: ‘Prove to me that this faith you speak of is real though not accompanied by deeds, and by my deeds I will prove to you my faith.’”—NE.
18, 19. (a) What evidence do we have that many people who say they believe in God and Christ do not have real faith? (b) What did James say to those professing belief in God but not having an active faith?
18 So the question is forced on a person’s mind: Can a Christian prove his faith with no works at all? Or must a Christian prove his faith by demonstrating to others through the use of his heart, mind, soul and strength that his faith is a live faith, a productive faith, not a dead one? James is showing that works or activity is proof of one’s faith. There are many people in the world today that say they believe in God, but when you ask, ‘Who is he? What has he done? What is he doing?’ that brings the conversation to a close. They have no real faith in God, because they do not know him. They have no “assured expectation of things hoped for.” They are acquainted with no “evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” (Heb. 11:1) Others say, ‘I believe in Jesus Christ,’ but when you ask, ‘What is Jesus Christ doing now?’ they just do not really know. They say he died. They do not believe he is the resurrected Lord, alive in the heavens, entrusted with great power and reigning as king, soon to bring to its end the wicked system of things, and preparing to bring to full realization the prayer that Christians have been taught to pray, namely, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10, AV) Such persons are lost when it comes to telling you what their faith is all about. They cannot back it up with Bible proof. They have no hope. Really, they do not believe that Jesus is Lord and that Jehovah God raised him from the dead and that he has been made king of God’s kingdom and put on the heavenly throne for the blessing of all humankind. Do you?
19 Evidently James in his discussion with people who professed to be of the congregation of God in the first century found that some did not have a faith that was alive, that was active, one that moved a person to show genuine love toward his Christian brothers and to share in producing more disciples of Jesus Christ. So James said: “You believe there is one God, do you? You are doing quite well. And yet the demons believe and shudder.” (Jas. 2:19) Why did James say that?
20, 21. How do we know that the demons believe in God, but what happened to them at the time of the Flood, and why?
20 He points out that the demons believe there is a God. In fact, they know that quite well, because “when men started to grow in numbers on the surface of the ground and daughters were born to them, then the sons of the true God began to notice the daughters of men, that they were good-looking; and they went taking wives for themselves, namely, all whom they chose.” (Gen. 6:1, 2) These “sons of the true God” were spirit creatures but they materialized. As they “continued to have relations with the daughters of men and they bore sons to them, they were the mighty ones who were of old, the men of fame.” Because of their depravity these fallen angels brought havoc to the earth, and their hybrid offspring, “the mighty ones,” no doubt had much to do with the “violence” that filled the earth in those days. As a result, God said that he was going to destroy mankind by a flood, preserving only Noah, his wife and his three sons and their wives.—Gen. 6:4-7, 11-13.
21 What happened to those materialized angels when the floodwaters fell? They were forced back into the spirit realm, but not to the assigned positions they had forsaken. Jude tells us: “The angels that did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place he has reserved with eternal bonds under dense darkness for the judgment of the great day.” (Jude 6) James refers to these angels as demons. These demons believed there is one God, they believed that he exists, but they did not do the works of God.
22, 23. What evidence is there that the demons also knew Christ Jesus and recognized his power?
22 They knew of the Son of God, Christ Jesus, too, but they did not do his works. When Jesus was in the country of the Gadarenes he met up with two demon-possessed men coming out from among the memorial tombs. These men were unusually fierce and no one had any courage to pass by on the road. These demons knew who Jesus Christ was. “They screamed, saying: ‘What have we to do with you, Son of God? Did you come here to torment us before the appointed time?’” The account tells us that Jesus expelled the demons from the men and the demons went into a herd of swine.—Matt. 8:28-32.
23 There was no question about these demons believing that there is a God and that Jesus is the Son of God. And they shuddered at the thought of what this meant for them. Peter tells us: “God did not hold back from punishing the angels that sinned, but, by throwing them into Tartarus, delivered them to pits of dense darkness to be reserved for judgment.”—2 Pet. 2:4.
24. So, then, why is belief in God not sufficient?
24 It is very evident that these sons of God became demons because of not doing God’s will. They were rebellious. They certainly knew there is a God; and now James, in speaking to those in the Christian congregation, says: “You believe there is one God, do you? You are doing quite well.” But if that was as far as their belief went, then they were not much better off than the demons. The demons are against God, and still they believe. They have knowledge. They know the position that Jehovah holds in the universe, but they do not conform to his will. Similarly, millions upon millions of people right here upon the earth believe there is a God, and say they have faith, but where are their works? Theirs is a dead faith.
Evidence of Living Faith
25. (a) With what questions is each of us now faced? (b) What does James tell us about Abraham’s faith?
25 So James puts the matter squarely before his hearers: “Can you not see, you quibbler, that faith divorced from deeds is barren?” (Jas. 2:20, NE) A barren woman does not bring forth; she does not produce. What does your faith do for you? Does it have works? Does it produce something? Do you live in harmony with what you profess to believe? Does your faith help you to make disciples of Christ Jesus? Are you increasing Kingdom interests? To emphasize his point, James gives us an illustration and speaks about Abraham: “Was it not by his action, in offering his son Isaac upon the altar, that our father Abraham was justified? Surely you can see that faith was at work in his actions, and that by these actions the integrity of his faith was fully proved. Here was fulfillment of the words of Scripture: ‘Abraham put his faith in God, and that faith was counted to him as righteousness’; and elsewhere he is called ‘God’s friend.’ You see then that a man is justified by deeds and not by faith in itself.” (Jas. 2:21-24, NE) Do you have faith like that of Abraham, the kind of faith that moves one to put the doing of God’s will ahead of life itself?
26. (a) As related by Paul, how did Abraham and Sarah exhibit faith in God’s promises? (b) What question now poses itself for each of us?
26 Paul in his letter concerning faith, said: “Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for.” He, too, wrote about Abraham and uses Abraham as a real-life example of faith. He says: “By faith Abraham obeyed the call to go out to a land destined for himself and his heirs, and left home without knowing where he was to go. By faith he settled as an alien in the land promised him, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs to the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith even Sarah herself received strength to conceive, though she was past the age, because she judged that he who had promised would keep faith; and therefore from one man, and one as good as dead, there sprang descendants numerous as the stars or as the countless grains of sand on the sea-shore.” (Heb. 11:8-12, NE) We know that Abraham died without getting the fulfillment of the promise made to him, but he certainly had faith and an assured expectation of the things hoped for, and all through his life he had the evidence of God’s blessing upon him. Abraham’s faith in “the city . . . whose architect and builder is God” moved him to leave behind material conveniences in order to do God’s will. Do your works similarly give evidence that God’s kingdom is more important to you than are material possessions?—Luke 12:29-31.
27. How did Noah show that he was a man with an active faith?
27 There was another man, one who saw what the sons of God had done in their association with the daughters of men before the global flood, and Paul also uses him as an illustration of one showing real faith. We read: “By faith Noah, after being given divine warning of things not yet beheld, showed godly fear and constructed an ark for the saving of his household; and through this faith he condemned the world, and he became an heir of the righteousness that is according to faith.” (Heb. 11:7) The building of the ark was not accomplished by a miracle. Noah had to cut down trees, shape them, and put various compartments in the structure. He had to cover the inside and outside with tar. (Gen. 6:14) This ark was not small; its measurements were 437 feet six inches long, 72 feet eleven inches wide and 43 feet nine inches high. This colossal chestlike structure was built on dry land. The Bible also details its very interesting passenger list. Besides Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives, Noah was instructed to bring other creatures into the ark with him: “Every living creature of every sort of flesh, two of each, you will bring into the ark to preserve them alive with you. Male and female they will be. Of the flying creatures according to their kinds and of the domestic animals according to their kinds, of all moving animals of the ground according to their kinds, two of each will go in there to you to preserve them alive. And as for you, take for yourself every sort of food that is eaten; and you must gather it to yourself, and it must serve as food for you and for them. And Noah proceeded to do according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so.” (Gen. 6:19-22) Would you say that Noah had work to prove his faith?
28. Because of his active faith, what did Moses reject?
28 There is another man that Bible readers have learned about in the Scriptures. Showing that he had an assured expectation of things hoped for, Paul says of him: “By faith Moses, when grown up, refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh, choosing to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin, because he esteemed the reproach of the Christ as riches greater than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked intently toward the payment of the reward. . . . By faith he had celebrated the passover and the splashing of the blood, that the destroyer might not touch their firstborn ones. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as on dry land, but on venturing out upon it the Egyptians were swallowed up.”—Heb. 11:24-29.
29. What in Rahab’s course of action toward the two spies shows that she had faith in Jehovah?
29 James did not take the time to discuss the faith of other men, as Paul did. Addressing his brothers and sisters, he referred to just Abraham and Rahab. So he said: “The same is true of the prostitute Rahab also. Was not she justified by her action in welcoming the messengers into her house and sending them away by a different route?” (Jas. 2:25, NE) Rahab grew up in a land where other gods were worshiped, not the God of Israel. But she heard of the God of Israel and she had faith in their God because of what He had done for the Israelites. Paul referred to her too, just as James, in using her as an example of faith. Paul said: “By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who acted disobediently, because she received the spies in a peaceable way.” (Heb. 11:30, 31) Not only did Rahab believe what the messengers told her when they came into her house, but she worked in their behalf. She hid the messengers and aided them to escape. She also gathered her family into a place of safety. She believed what the Israelites told her to be true.
30, 31. What connection is made by James between the body and breath and faith and deeds, and so what is the intent of James’ words?
30 James concludes his discussion on faith by saying: “As the body is dead when there is no breath left in it, so faith divorced from deeds is lifeless as a corpse.” (Jas. 2:26, NE) In days gone by, if a person wanted to be sure there was no breath left in a body he would take a glass or a mirror and hold it close to the mouth and nose of the person. If there was any breath in that body he would be able to see it on the glass. If there was no sign of breath, he would say that the person was dead. So James uses the illustration of a body. When there is no breath in it, that is the way a person professing faith but having no works is. When faith is divorced from deeds and there is no work backing up that faith, then one’s faith is like a lifeless corpse.
31 One thing that we should keep in mind is that James is addressing Christians, persons who are dedicated to Jehovah God and are baptized and who make the full claim that they are Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. He is endeavoring to stir every one of them to action. If they have faith they should demonstrate it. Do not forget how he started out his dissertation on faith: “Of what benefit is it, my brothers, if a certain one says he has faith but he does not have works?”—Jas. 2:14.
32, 33. For what reason should Jehovah’s witnesses today have strong faith, and do they give evidence of having such faith?
32 Our faith today should be strong because we have the entire Bible. We have the Hebrew and the Greek Scriptures. We see what people did in faith before Christ Jesus, the Son of God, appeared on the earthly scene. We also see the faith of the early Christians and what they did. They recognized Jesus Christ as the Son of God; they observed his life course and his determination to preach the Kingdom good news and then imitated him by putting their faith in that kingdom and preaching the good news. Now Jesus has been resurrected from the dead. Concerning this one whose example true Christians seek to imitate, Hebrews 1:3 says: “He is the reflection of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of his very being, and he sustains all things by the word of his power; and after he had made a purification for our sins he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in lofty places.”
33 So today we find hundreds of thousands of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses with strong faith. They have it on their lips that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God, and in their hearts is the faith that God raised Christ Jesus up from the dead. Having this kind of faith and publicly declaring it, telling people of all nations and tongues about it, they have an assured expectation of salvation to everlasting life.
34. If we have faith in Jehovah, how will we react in the face of the situation described at Habakkuk 3:17, 18?
34 Extreme pressure may be brought upon them by the wicked system of things during its closing hours; they may suffer economic hardship; at times their very survival may appear to be in doubt. But in the face of all this, with faith in Jehovah they will have reason for joy. As the prophet Habakkuk was inspired to write: “Although the fig tree itself may not blossom, and there may be no yield on the vines; . . . yet, as for me, I will exult in Jehovah himself; I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.”—Hab. 3:17, 18.
35. What activity in particular in these times will show that we have a living faith?
35 We today are very close to that critical time. We are living in the last days of this system of things, and we see the fulfillment of prophecy, especially that set forth in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, which describes the very things that would occur before this system of things comes to an end. Jesus said, as recorded at Matthew 24:14: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” Jehovah’s witnesses believe this. They have faith in God’s kingdom and so they have declared this good news world wide. It should be of interest to everyone to see just what Jehovah’s witnesses did do during the past service year.
36, 37. (a) How does the service chart in this magazine show the faith of Jehovah’s witnesses? (b) To what extent have new disciples been made during the past year?
36 By consulting the chart on pages 27-30 you will be able to see what Jehovah’s Christian witnesses have done in preaching the good news of God’s kingdom during the service year of 1973 in 208 different countries, lands and islands of the sea. All this territory is looked after through branch offices of the Watch Tower Society established in 95 different lands.
37 As Christians well know, Jesus commanded his disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them.” (Matt. 28:19) This was done with excellent success during the past service year. There were 193,990 individuals who became disciples, dedicating their lives to do the will of God and symbolizing this by water baptism. They have now identified themselves with Jehovah’s Christian witnesses and are proving their faith by their works.
38. (a) What shows the extent to which Jehovah’s witnesses exerted themselves in preaching the good news during the past year? (b) Approximately how many individuals actually had Bible studies?
38 On the average, there were 1,656,673 preachers of the good news out in the field service each month, but a peak of 1,758,429 declaring the good news was reached during the year. These individuals did a tremendous amount of work, which can probably be best appreciated by realizing how many hours they spent in house-to-house work, making return visits, conducting Bible studies and speaking at all appropriate times and on all types of occasions concerning their Kingdom hope. These people dedicated to preaching the good news devoted 300,468,676 hours to the field ministry. Just think what a great amount of time that is! This was not time spent just reading the Bible themselves, but was used actually in going out and talking to other people about what God’s Word has to say. Additionally, they made 131,657,832 return visits on persons who showed interest in the Bible, and conducted home Bible studies for a period of six months or more with 1,209,544 different families each week. Was such a Bible study conducted in your home? By the end of six months, if people are truly interested in the kingdom of God they will usually be coming to the Kingdom Hall. So we could assume that approximately 2,400,000 different individuals throughout the world actually had Bible studies conducted in their homes during the year, and, of course, they had to make a decision as to whether they were going to be disciples of Jesus Christ and show their faith in God’s kingdom by their works. As you have noted, 193,990 individuals did become disciples, dedicating their lives to God, and now they are associated with Jehovah’s Christian witnesses in proclaiming the good news.
39, 40. As shown by the statistics, what use did Jehovah’s people earth wide make of printed publications during the past year?
39 Not only do Jehovah’s witnesses use the Bible in their studies with people, but they also use Bible study aids. They have distributed many of these during the year. In fact, 21,761,877 Bibles and study-aid books were distributed due to their preaching of the good news, along with 9,965,259 booklets.
40 All of you are acquainted with the Watchtower and Awake! magazines and you know that Jehovah’s witnesses use these magazines in regular calls on the homes of the people. During the past year they placed 235,468,467 copies of these in many languages. The Watchtower is printed in 75 different languages and Awake! in 31 languages. Many one-year subscriptions were taken too. The record shows 1,894,447 subscriptions sent in to the Society during the year. In order to accommodate all the subscribers and other readers of these magazines, the 37 printeries that the Watch Tower Society uses had to print a total of 198,177,981 copies of The Watchtower and 202,520,820 Awake! magazines in the last twelve months. This is an increase of 15,500,000 magazines over the previous year. So people are interested in Bible study and in the message that Jehovah’s Christian witnesses are trying to bring to them.
41. What does the fine attendance at the celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal show?
41 In addition to those who are active Witnesses, many other individuals are very much interested in what Jehovah’s witnesses are doing and they attend the meetings of Jehovah’s witnesses. There are 31,850 congregations in all the world. At the Memorial celebration on the evening of April 17, 1973, there were 3,994,924 in attendance at the Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s witnesses throughout the world, and 10,523 partook of the emblems, the bread and the wine, indicating that they professed to be anointed with God’s spirit and hoped to be associated with Christ Jesus in heavenly glory. The others look forward to living on a paradise earth under the divine rule of Jehovah’s heavenly kingdom.
42. How well did Jehovah’s people behind the Iron Curtain do in their ministry in the past year?
42 At times people inquire whether Jehovah’s witnesses carry on with their work behind the Iron Curtain. Yes, our records show that there are 150,448 Christian witnesses of Jehovah preaching the good news under severe difficulties in lands such as those. In fact, they had a 5.5-percent increase during the last twelve months, and 11,334 persons were baptized in these countries. These baptisms were done privately, of course, because Jehovah’s witnesses are banned behind the Iron Curtain and in a few other countries. But this does not hold Jehovah’s witnesses back from trying to make disciples of these persons too, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the holy spirit. All of these who become disciples believe that “faith divorced from deeds is lifeless as a corpse.” So, joyfully, in 208 lands of the world and to the ends of the earth, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses have worked hard and had a most delightful year in preaching the good news of Jehovah’s kingdom.
43. If one desires to have a truly active faith, what should one now do?
43 What about you? Do you have such faith, a living faith in God that moves you to talk to others about his loving purposes? If that is your desire, now is the time to exert yourself in study of God’s Word, to associate regularly with the people whose works give evidence that their faith is alive, and to pray earnestly to Jehovah to bless your efforts to bring your life into harmony with his will.—1 John 5:14; Luke 13:23, 24.
[Chart on page 27-30]
1973 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLD WIDE
(See bound volume)
[Pictures on page 23]
Is your faith alive?
Does it move you to preach to others?
[Picture on page 24]
Rahab had the two Israelite spies descend by a red rope through the window of her house, situated on Jericho’s wall