Where’s the beef?

Where’s the beef?

James 2:18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

James 2:17-20

 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

“Where’s the beef?” is a catchphrase in the United States and Canada, introduced as a slogan for the fast-food chain Wendy’s in 1984.

The original commercial featured three elderly ladies at the “Home of the Big Bun” a fictional competitor of Wendy’s. Clara Peller receives a burger with a massive bun. The other two ladies poked at it, exchanging bemused comments, “It certainly is a big bun. It’s a very big bun. It’s a big fluffy bun. It’s a very big fluffy bun.”

As one of the ladies lift the top half of the bun, a comically minuscule hamburger patty with cheese and a pickle is revealed. The small patty prompts Peller angrily to exclaim, “Where’s the beef?”

The catchphrase was repeated in television shows, films, magazines, and other media outlets. During the 1984 presidential primaries, Democratic candidate and former Vice President Walter Mondale used the phrase to sum up his arguments that program policies championed by his rival, Senator Gary Hart, were insubstantial.

Since then it has become an all-purpose phrase questioning the substance of an idea, event, or product.

Down through the centuries, people and particularly theologians, have debated the relationship between faith and works. If we say that we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, how can we know for sure if we have been redeemed? Is our faith adequate and genuine? Where’s the beef?


“For James, ‘faith alone’ means a bogus kind of faith, mere intellectual agreement without a genuine personal trust in Christ that bears fruit in one’s life” (ESV notes).

Father thank You that You have provided salvation by faith alone. Encourage and strengthen me to bear the fruit of my faith.


The apostle Paul unequivocally stated that salvation comes by grace through faith and it is not the result of any effort on our part.

Ephesians 2:8-9 [NLT]

 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Ephesians 2:8-9 [NAS]

 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Salvation is the Father’s gracious response to our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and our acceptance of Him as our Savior. Before the birth, life, and death of Christ, children of the King believed in the promises that the Father made in the Old Testament. The best illustration of this is Abraham.

Genesis 15:6 Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.

The Father made promises and Abraham believed them. That is when he became a child of the King (Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6). However, how did he demonstrate that his faith was real? That came years later.

He was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac, whom he dearly loved. His response to this seemingly over-the-top command showed that his faith was real. He prepared to do just as he was told. Just as he was about to carry out the Father’s request, he was stopped by an angelic messenger.

Genesis 22:12 He said, “Don’t lay a hand on the boy! “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”

Abraham’s works, good deeds, efforts, and willingness to carry out the Father’s command demonstrated that his faith was real. Works are the outward demonstration of the inner reality of faith.

But there is more. The Father provides an inner awareness through the work of the Holy Spirit to confirm that our faith is real and that we are His children.

Romans 8:16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

Anyone can say they have faith. But saying you have faith is not enough.

James 2:20-24

 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

 21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?

 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.

 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God.

 24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

Our actions do not make us right with the Father, our actions demonstrate we are right with the Father.


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