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June 21, 2012

Faith Without Works

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

Former LCMS President Gerald B. Kieschnick pens a “Perspective” email on some topic of the Christian life. I find his writings very informative, but mostly, they direct the Lutheran heart to take stock in what it means to be a redeemed members of the family of Christ. In his latest missive, he writes about a topic that always seems to come up in Lutheran discussions — faith without works. I submit his writing below:

Dr. Gerald Kieschnick at the July 2004 LCMS Na...

One of my greatest concerns is how best to respond to the plight of people facing chronic illness, unexpected unemployment, a terminally ill loved one, an estranged spouse, a rebellious child or any other unhappy and difficult circumstance. It’s easy to tell such folks that they will be in my prayers. It’s usually much better to stop and pray, right on the spot.

My dear Terry is better at that than I am. Neither of us has ever had a refusal from someone with whom we’ve offered to pray at a time of grief, guilt, illness, anxiety, uncertainty, depression or despondency. Indeed, most people for whom prayer is offered remember and appreciate such prayers much longer than the one who offers the prayer.While I know it is important and effective, at times I feel prayer, even with sincere expression of concern and encouragement, is not enough. I’m haunted by James 2:15-17: If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. That’s probably why I almost never pass a man or woman asking for money at an intersection without giving them something.So the questions I ask myself are these: Am I doing all I can to aid the sick, comfort the grieving parent or child or widow or widower, accompany the lonely, feed the hungry, encourage the disconsolate, clothe the nearly naked, support the unwed expectant mother who chooses life over abortion, and patiently counsel those whose lifestyle is different than mine?

And since the answer is no, what will motivate me to do more than provide generous financial support to Lutheran Social Service agencies who pay more daily attention to such matters than I will ever hope to do? And what will cause me to do more than simply give a few dollars to a homeless highway hopeful?The thought of a dead faith troubles me! The example of the one who gave his very life that my life might be enriched by an abundance of bountiful blessing inspires me! The knowledge that we love because God first loved us motivates me! I hope the same is true for you!

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always!

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