TCB: Doing What Needs to Be Done
Receiving the word in this sense is not entirely passive but entails an active concentration on that which has already determined the faith of the believer. Through “receiving” the word again, renewal and deepening of faith can occur
If a person does not conduct himself in accordance with the “word,” then what he has heard sticks with him about as much as the mirror image sticks with a person who has observed himself in a mirror: he forgets it
In his message of the kingdom, Jesus announced the overwhelming, amazing wonder of God’s sovereign grace reaching down to reclaim sinful people for himself. But no one emphasized as strongly as Jesus the need for people touched by God’s grace to respond with a radical, world-renouncing obedience. Both the gracious initiative of God and the grateful response of human beings are necessary aspects of the gospel. The word, through which we are born into new life (v. 18) and which becomes implanted in us (v. 21), is a word that must be put into practice.
Specific and concrete actions are needed to demonstrate the reality of one’s claim to “have religion.
Calvin says, “[James] does not define generally what religion is, but reminds us that religion without the things he mentions is nothing.”79 James is not polemicizing against religious ritual per se but against a ritual that goes no further than outward show and mere words. He is probably somewhat dependent on a widespread pagan and Jewish tradition that emphasized that proper cultic worship must be accompanied by ethical conduct.80 Specific and concrete actions are needed to demonstrate the reality of one’s claim to “have religion.”