Seest thou - Margin, “Thou seest.” Either rendering is correct, and the sense is the same. The apostle means to say that this was so plain that they could not but see it.
How faith wrought with his works - συνήργει sunērgeiCooperated with. The meaning of the word is, “to work together with anyone; to co operate,” 1 Corinthians 16:16; 2 Corinthians 6:1; then to aid, or help, Mark 16:20; to contribute to the production of any result, where two or more persons or agents are united. Compare Romans 8:28. The idea here is, that the result in the case of Abraham, that is, his salvation, or his religion, was secured, not by one of these things alone, but that both contributed to it. The result which was reached, to wit, his acceptance with God, could not have been obtained by either one of them separately, but both, in some sense, entered into it. The apostle does not say that, in regard to the merit which justifies, they came in for an equal share, for he makes no affirmation on that point; he does not deny that in the sight of God, who foresees and knows all things, he was regarded as a justified man the moment he believed, but he looks at the result as it was, at Abraham as he appeared under the trial of his faith, and says that in that result there was to be seen the co-operation of faith and good works. Both contributed to the end, as they do now in all cases where there is true religion.
(By the somewhat unhappy term “merit,” the author clearly means nothing more than “principle,” as is obvious from his acute and evangelical comment on the verse; as well as from the admirable reconciliation of Paul and James below.)
And by works was faith made perfect - Made complete, finished, or entire. It was so carried out as to show its legitimate and fair results. This does not mean that the faith in itself was defective before this, and that the defect was remedied by good works; or that there is any deficiency in what the right kind of faith can do in the matter of justification, which is to be helped out by good works; but that there was that kind of completion which a thing has when it is fully developed, or is fairly carried out.
Seest thou how faith wrought - Here is a proof that faith cannot exist without being active in works of righteousness. His faith in God would have been of no avail to him, had it not been manifested by works; for by works - by his obedience to the commands of God, his faith was made perfect - it dictated obedience, he obeyed; and thus faith ετελειωθη, had its consummation. Even true faith will soon die, if its possessor do not live in the spirit of obedience.
The children of God are wise when they trust in that wisdom alone which comes from above, and when they have no strength but that which is from God. Separation from the friendship and spirit of the world is needful for us if we would be united to the Lord and abide in him. Our strength and our prosperity consist in our being connected with the Lord, chosen and accepted of Him. There can be no union between light and darkness. God intends that His people shall be a peculiar people, separate from the world, and be living examples of holiness, that the world may be enlightened, convicted, or condemned, according as they treat the light given them. The truth that has been brought before the understanding, the light that has shone upon the soul, will judge and condemn if it be neglected or turned from. 2T 689.1
In this degenerate age, error and darkness are preferred rather than light and truth. The works of many of Christ's professed followers will not bear the test when examined by the light that now shines upon them. For this cause, many do not come to the light lest it shall be made manifest that their works are not wrought in God. Light discovers, makes manifest, the evil hidden under darkness. Men of the world and men who are Christ's servants indeed may be alike in outward appearance; but they are servants of two masters whose interests are in decided opposition to each other. The world does not understand or discern the difference; but there is an immense distance, a vast, separation, between them. 2T 689.2
Says Christ: “Ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” The true followers of Christ cannot enjoy the friendship of the world and at the same time have their life hid with Christ. The affections must be withdrawn from the treasures of earth and transferred to the heavenly treasure. How difficult was it for the young man who had great possessions to withdraw his affections from his worldly treasure, even with the promise of eternal life before him as his reward! 2T 690.1Read in context »
10 (Ephesians 1:6; 2:8-10; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 2:14; 3:5; James 2:22). Good Works No Plea for Salvation—Our acceptance with God is sure only through His beloved Son, and good works are but the result of the working of His sin-pardoning love. They are no credit to us, and we have nothing accorded to us for our good works by which we may claim a part in the salvation of our souls. Salvation is God's free gift to the believer, given to him for Christ's sake alone. The troubled soul may find peace through faith in Christ, and his peace will be in proportion to his faith and trust. He cannot present his good works as a plea for the salvation of his soul. 5BC 1122.1
But are good works of no real value? Is the sinner who commits sin every day with impunity, regarded of God with the same favor as the one who through faith in Christ tries to work in his integrity? The Scripture answers, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” In His divine arrangement, through His unmerited favor, the Lord has ordained that good works shall be rewarded. We are accepted through Christ's merit alone; and the acts of mercy, the deeds of charity, which we perform, are the fruits of faith; and they become a blessing to us; for men are to be rewarded according to their works. It is the fragrance of the merit of Christ that makes our good works acceptable to God, and it is grace that enables us to do the works for which He rewards us. Our works in and of themselves have no merit. When we have done all that it is possible for us to do, we are to count ourselves as unprofitable servants. We deserve no thanks from God. We have only done what it was our duty to do, and our works could not have been performed in the strength of our own sinful natures. 5BC 1122.2
The Lord has bidden us to draw nigh to Him and He will draw nigh to us; and drawing nigh to Him, we receive the grace by which to do those works which will be rewarded at His hands (The Review and Herald, January 29, 1895). 5BC 1122.3
28-30 (Genesis 19:24, 25). Rocked in Cradle of Carnal Security—As the sun arose for the last time upon the cities of the plain, the people thought to commence another day of godless riot. All were eagerly planning their business or their pleasure, and the messenger of God was derided for his fears and his warnings. Suddenly as the thunder peal from an unclouded sky, fell balls of fire on the doomed capital. “So shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” The people will be eating and drinking, planting and building, marrying and giving in marriage, until the wrath of God shall be poured out without mixture of mercy. The world will be rocked to sleep in the cradle of carnal security.... The multitudes are striving to forget God, and they eagerly accept fables, that they may pursue the path of self-indulgence undisturbed (The Review and Herald, October 26, 1886). 5BC 1122.4Read in context »
But do all that we may, we cannot pay a ransom for our souls. We can do nothing to originate faith, for faith is the gift of God; neither can we perfect it, for Christ is the finisher of our faith. It is all of Christ. All the longing after a better life is from Christ, and is an evidence that He is drawing you to Himself and that you are responding to His drawing power.—The Bible Echo, May 15, 1892. 3SM 198.3Read in context »
Genuine faith will be manifested in good works; for good works are the fruits of faith. As God works in the heart, and man surrenders his will to God, and cooperates with God, he works out in the life what God works in by the Holy Spirit, and there is harmony between the purpose of the heart and the practice of the life. Every sin must be renounced as the hateful thing that crucified the Lord of life and glory, and the believer must have a progressive experience by continually doing the works of Christ. It is by continual surrender of the will, by continual obedience, that the blessing of justification is retained. 1SM 397.1
Those who are justified by faith must have a heart to keep the way of the Lord. It is an evidence that a man is not justified by faith when his works do not correspond to his profession. James says, “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was his faith made perfect?” (James 2:22). 1SM 397.2Read in context »