What does it profit, my brothers, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? can faith save him?…
1. Many times God may choose the worst of sinners. Faith in a harlot is acceptable: "The last shall be first"; that is, those that set out late for heaven do often make more way than an early professor. The most odious and despised sinners, when they turn to God by repentance, find grace and place in Christ's heart.
2. The meanest faith must justify itself by works and gracious effects. Rahab, a Gentile convert, doth not only profess, but preserve the spies. The smallest faith, though it be but like a grain of mustard-seed, will have some branches.
3. Believers, though they justify their profession, are still monuments of free grace. It is "Rahab, the harlot," though justified by works. The scars and marks of old sins remain, not to our dishonour, but God's glory.
4. Ordinary acts are gracious when they flow from faith and are done in obedience; as Rahab's receiving the messengers: entertainment in such a case is not civility, but religion. A carnal man performeth his religious duties for civil ends, and a godly man his civil duties for religious ends, and in offices natural and human he is spiritual. Certainly there is no chemistry like to that of grace; there brass is turned into gold, and actions of commerce made worship. A Christian is always doing his great work, whether in the shop or in the closet, obeying God and glorifying God in his respects to men.
5. The great trial of faith is in acts of self-denial. Such was Rahab's, to prefer the will of God before the safety of her own country; and such was Abraham's in the former instance. Self-denial is the first thing that must be resolved upon in Christianity (Matthew 16:24). No trial like that when we can part with some conveniency in sense, upon the proper and sole encouragement of faith.
6. The actions and duties of God's children are usually blemished with some notable defect; as Rahab's entertainment with Rahab's lie. "Moses smote the rock twice" (Numbers 20:11); there was anger mixed with faith.
7. God hideth His-eyes from the evil that is in our good actions. Here is mention made of receiving the messengers, but no mention of the lie. He that drew Alexander, whilst he had a scar upon his face, drew him with his finger upon the scar. God putteth the finger of mercy upon our scars.
Parallel VersesKJV: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?