Still, the apostle James says faith without actions is dead. Therefore, James implicitly says that faith is alive. But how is faith alive? We can answer this question by seeing how faith can be dead. Dead faith, James says, is faith without actions. Therefore, actions are necessary for faith to be alive. Now, we could focus on what such actions are. But for the moment, focusing on faith as action-producing is enough.
Faith Produces Actions
In the Bible, the apostle Paul writes, “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3). This statement stresses that faith produces actions approved by God. Faith, however, is not the only alive thing Paul talks about here. In fact, Paul mentions labor produced by love and endurance produced by hope. So hope, love, and faith produce actions. Thus, a sign of faith being alive is it produces something. Since such faith comes from God (Ephesians 2:8), it produces good actions.
A Dead Rock
Take a rock for example. A rock is something that most people will agree is dead. One reason people say a rock is dead is because it does nothing. In other words, it has no actions. Neither can it produce anything.* Similarly, faith that has no signs of doing anything, actions, or production is dead. Such faith lacks the action-producing necessary for it to be called alive. Therefore, the life of faith is less about what actions it produces than its naturally produced actions. This is the key point James makes when he says faith without actions is dead: Faith, by its very nature, produces godly actions. Put another way, the essence of faith is that it produces godly actions.
* With God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26), and God can even make a rock alive, praise God, and produce water. So, here I talk in a merely carnal and temporary sense (Numbers 20:1-13; Luke 19:40; Matthew 16:13-20).