Rahab the harlot - See the notes on Joshua 2:1, etc., and Hebrews 11:31; (note), etc. Rahab had the approbation due to genuine faith, which she actually possessed, and gave the fullest proof that she did so by her conduct. As justification signifies, not only the pardon of sin, but receiving the Divine approbation, James seems to use the word in this latter sense. God approved of them, because of their obedience to his will; and he approves of no man who is not obedient.
Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works? - In the same sense in which Abraham was, as explained above - showing by her act that her faith was genuine, and that it was not a mere cold and speculative assent to the truths of religion. Her act showed that she truly believed God. If that act had not been performed, the fact would have shown that her faith was not genuine, and she could not have been justified. God saw her faith as it was; he saw that it would produce acts of obedience, and he accepted her as righteous. The act which she performed was the public manifestation of her faith, the evidence that she was justified. See the case of Rahab fully explained in the notes at Hebrews 11:31. It may be observed here, that we are not to suppose that everything in the life and character of this woman is commended. She is commended for her faith, and for the fair expression of it; a faith which, as it induced her to receive the messengers of the true God, and to send them forth in peace, and as it led her to identify herself with the people of God, was also influential, we have every reason to suppose, in inducing her to abandon her former course of life. When we commend the faith of a man who has been a profane swearer, or an adulterer, or a robber, or a drunkard, we do not commend his former life, or give a sanction to it. We commend that which has induced him to abandon his evil course, and to turn to the ways of righteousness. The more evil his former course has been, the more wonderful, and the more worthy of commendation, is that faith by which he is reformed and saved.
This is a most delicate subject. Many unbelieving parents manage their children with greater wisdom than many of those who claim to be children of God. They take much pains with their children, to make them kind, courteous, unselfish and to teach them to obey, and in this the unbelieving show greater wisdom than those parents who have the great light of truth but whose works do not in any wise correspond with their faith. 3SM 315.2Read in context »
I saw that it was time that those who have their large possessions begin to work fast. It is time they were not only laying by them in store as God is now prospering them, but as he has prospered them. Plans were especially laid in the days of the apostles that some should not be eased and others burdened. Arrangements were made that all should share equally in the burdens of the church of God according to their several ability. Said the angel, The axe must be laid at the root of the tree. If the heart is wrapt in earthly treasures, like Judas they will complain. His heart coveted the costly ointment poured upon Jesus, and he sought to hide his selfishness under a pious, conscientious regard for the poor. “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor?” He wished he had the ointment in his possession; it would not thus be lavished upon the Saviour. He would apply it to his own use; sell it for money. He prized his Lord just enough to sell him to wicked men for a few pieces of silver. As Judas brought up the poor as an excuse for his selfishness, professed Christians, whose hearts are covetous, will seek to hide their selfishness under a put-on conscientiousness. O, they fear Systematic Benevolence is getting like the nominal churches! Let not your left hand know what your right hand doeth! They seem conscientious to follow exactly the Bible as they understand it in this matter; but they entirely neglect the plain declaration of Christ, “Sell that ye have and give alms.” 2SG 232.1
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them.” Some think this text teaches that they must be secret in their works of charity. And they do but very little, excusing themselves, because they do not know just how to give. But Jesus explained it to his disciples as follows: “Therefore, when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee as the hypocrites do, in the synagogues, and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.” They gave to be regarded noble and generous by men. They received praise of men, and Jesus taught his disciples that it was all the reward they would have. With many, the left hand does not know what the right hand does, for the right hand does nothing worthy of the notice of the left hand. This lesson of Jesus to his disciples was to rebuke those who wished to receive glory of men. They performed their alms-giving upon some very public gathering; and before doing this, a public proclamation was made of their generosity before the people, and many gave large sums merely to have their names exalted by men. And the means given in this manner was often extorted from others by oppressing the hireling in his wages, and grinding the face of the poor. 2SG 234.1
Then I was shown that this scripture does not apply to those who have the cause of God at heart, and use their means humbly to advance it. I was directed to these texts: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” “By their fruits ye shall know them.” I was shown that scripture testimony will harmonize, when it is rightly understood. The good works of the children of God are the most effectual preaching the unbeliever has. He thinks there must be strong motives that actuate the christian to deny self, and with his possessions, try to save his fellow man. It is unlike the spirit of the world. Such fruits testify that they are genuine Christians. They seem to be constantly reaching upward to a treasure that is imperishable. 2SG 234.2Read in context »
Peter preached Jesus to that company of attentive hearers; His life, ministry, miracles, betrayal, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, and His work in heaven, as man's Representative and Advocate, to plead in the sinner's behalf. As the apostle spoke, his heart glowed with the Spirit of God's truth which he was presenting to the people. His hearers were charmed by the doctrine they heard, for their hearts had been prepared to receive the truth. The apostle was interrupted by the descent of the Holy Ghost, as was manifested on the day of Pentecost. “And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.” SR 289.1
The descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Gentiles was not an equivalent for baptism. The requisite steps in conversion, in all cases, are faith, repentance, and baptism. Thus the true Christian church are united in one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Diverse temperaments are modified by sanctifying grace, and the same distinguishing principles regulate the lives of all. Peter yielded to the entreaties of the believing Gentiles, and remained with them for a time, preaching Jesus to all the Gentiles thereabout. SR 289.2Read in context »
Justice and Mercy stood apart, in opposition to each other, separated by a wide gulf. The Lord our Redeemer clothed His divinity with humanity, and wrought out in behalf of man a character that was without spot or blemish. He planted His cross midway between heaven and earth, and made it the object of attraction which reached both ways, drawing both Justice and Mercy across the gulf. Justice moved from its exalted throne, and with all the armies of heaven approached the cross. There it saw One equal with God bearing the penalty for all injustice and sin. With perfect satisfaction Justice bowed in reverence at the cross, saying, It is enough (Manuscript 94, 1899). 7BC 936.1
21-26 (Romans 3:31). Saving Faith More Than Mere Belief—The apostle James saw that dangers would arise in presenting the subject of justification by faith, and he labored to show that genuine faith cannot exist without corresponding works. The experience of Abraham is presented. “Seest thou,” he says, “how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” Thus genuine faith does a genuine work in the believer. Faith and obedience bring a solid, valuable experience. 7BC 936.3Read in context »