Justified by works? well that depends

Eastxn

Well-Known Member
Here's what I mean,

Paul says;

Ephesians 2:8.-9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast".

Romans 4:5 "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."


However James says;

James 2:20 "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?"

James 2:24 "You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

So we have a contradiction in the bible. Or do we? The average athiest would say "these cannot both be true" but that's only half right. They cannot both be true for the same person. We have to remember that these are God's words, not Paul's words and not James's words. God cannot lie and He cannot contradict Himself...so

Paul is speaking to the Christian Church, made up of the body of Christ. He says so in several places.

James however, is talking to jews...... James 1:1 "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting." Now since we know that in the Christian Church there is "neither jew nor gentile, for all are one in Christ" and the entire book of James makes several references to "my brethren in these last days" it becomes apparent that James is speaking to jews during the tribulation. Works will be required because people will have to resist taking the mark of the beast and will have to treat the brethren justly.

Some people like to make a big deal out of "whoever endures to the end will be saved." Well during the tribulation that will definitely be the case but not today during the church age.
 
Last edited:

Chris

Administrator
Staff member
I think this explains it well.

Understanding James 2:14-26
By Jack Kelley

Question: In James 2:14-26 he questions whether someone can be saved without works, that faith is best displayed by works, twice that faith without works is dead and useless, that a man is justified by works and not faith alone, that Abraham was justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac at the altar.

Personally I have always believed in Ephesians 2:8,9 “that we are save by grace through faith and that not of ourselves, it’s the gift of God not of works lest any man should boast.” And as you have said in the past (correct me if I am wrong) that it is what we believe and not how we behave that saves us. Is that right?

Answer: Notice that James 2:14 says, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?”

I believe the phrase “claims to have faith” casts doubt on the person’s sincerity. James was saying that for people who are truly saved, good works will become an automatic part of their lives.

First of all, the Holy Spirit will prompt this, and second these works become our demonstration of gratitude for the free gift of salvation. If James 2:14-16 means self generated works must be combined with faith to attain or keep our salvation it would stand in direct conflict with several statements by Jesus, who clearly said eternal life comes from belief alone (John 3:16, John 6:28-29. John 6:37-40) and Paul who was even clearer in saying that works are not a part of the salvation equation (Romans 4:4-8, Ephes. 1:13-14, Ephes. 2:8-9, 2 Cor. 1:21-22).

https://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/understanding-james-214-26/
 

cavalier973

Well-Known Member
Dr. Andy Woods recently finished a series on the Letter of James. He argues that what James is speaking about is the progressive sanctification on believers rather than their initial justification at the point of faith in the Lord Jesus, even though James uses the word “justified”.

Abraham was in his mid-seventies when he “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Genesis chapter 15), but it wasn’t until he was well over 100 years old when he offered Isaac. Any argument that Abraham wasn’t really saved during those twenty or so years between his belief and his work is, in my opinion, not persuasive.

Some want to make an argument along the lines of, “James points out that Abraham was justified by works, so *you* need to keep the Ten Commandments and be a good person in order to be saved; faith alone is not enough.”

That isn’t the argument that James is making, though. James didn’t point to Abraham’s circumcision as another “good work” that he did to be justified. Circumcision is part of God’s law, though, and is required of all of Abraham’s physical descendents, and is a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham. James rather points to a one-time event that demonstrates Abraham’s complete trust in God—to the point of offering up the promised son, with the expectation that God would have to raise Isaac from the dead, because God had previously promised that Isaac would be the one through whom His promises to Abraham would be fulfilled.
 

cavalier973

Well-Known Member
This is kind of a side issue, but some Christians, I think, worry about denying Jesus under torture, which would mean that Jesus will deny them before the Father (Matthew 10:33).

If that were what Jesus meant, then what about Peter? He denied Jesus thrice—and he wasn’t even being tortured. Did Jesus deny Peter before the Father?

I don’t think so. Jesus went out of His way to reestablish His and Peter’s relationship.

Further evidence that our salvation depends on what Jesus does; we are required only to trust Him, and His work on the cross.
 

Matthew6:33

Withstand in the evil day. Eph 6:13
As others have stated, James is speaking to sanctification not salvation. Take a look at the highlighted portions below.

14 What [does it] profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what [does it] profit?
17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!
20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?
22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God.
24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent [them] out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. [Jas 2:14-26 NKJV]

'If someone says he has faith but does not have works' - How are we supposed to show others our faith if we never put our faith into practice and produce works?

'I will show you my faith by my works' - This is how faith is made visible to others, encouraging them and being a witness to them.

'Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?' - Faith and works go hand and hand. Works demonstrate faith, and faith is tested as you are sanctified and realize that God is telling the truth.

And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. [Gen 15:6 NKJV] - This scripture was fulfilled and Abraham's faith was 'made perfect' by his works (taking action and believing what God said).

None of this has to do with salvation, it has to do with your faith being visible to others through works. Putting our faith to practice. Increasing our faith in God by testing our faith and applying it.

Salvation is faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins alone.

True faith in Christ will inevitably produce good works.
 

Everlasting Life

Through Faith in Jesus
This article below may also be helpful in explaining who the audience of James is and the passage after might explain just who these believers may be:



From Jack Kelly:

https://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/was-james-writing-to-the-church/

Q

I’ve heard people say the book of James was written for the Jews. If so, how do we appropriate the verses on healing such as James 5:14-15 for ourselves, being gentiles? And if it’s not for the Church, why is it in the Bible?

A

The Epistle of James was written by the Lord’s half brother while he was the bishop of the Church in Jerusalem. There are different opinions as to exactly when he wrote the letter but the most likely date appears to be the late 40s AD, about 15 years after the cross. (He was killed in 62 AD so it had to have been written before then.)


During this time the Church was almost entirely made up of Jewish believers, so the fact that it was addressed to the 12 tribes is irrelevant.


James described himself as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ (James 1:1) and identified his readers as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ as well (James 2:1). That made them all part of the Church. The fact that his letter is in the Bible means the early Church believed it was written to and for the Church and that James was writing to us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.




From Acts 2:

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem.

....Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem!

....Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.

....And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.


Acts 2:1-5, 14, 41, 47
 

Eastxn

Well-Known Member
the fact that it was addressed to the 12 tribes is irrelevant.
If it were irrelevant then the bible wouldn't bother to mention it. You're right that the early church consisted of jews. But these jews in the book of James are scattered abroad. James is speaking to jews in the tribulation, not the church in the church age, which consists of neither jew nor gentile.
 

Eastxn

Well-Known Member
No. James was addressing believers (most of whom at that time were of Jewish decent) in the time which he lived.
No he was addressing the twelve tribes. That's what the bible says...verbatim. Twelve tribes means just what it says...twelve tribes, period
 

Everlasting Life

Through Faith in Jesus
....Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James1:2-3

Here's the footnote:

The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in verses 16 and 19; and in 2:1, 5, 14; 3:10, 12; 4:11; 5:7, 9, 10, 12, 19.
 

mattfivefour

Administrator
Staff member
No he was addressing the twelve tribes. That's what the bible says...verbatim. Twelve tribes means just what it says...twelve tribes, period
The twelve tribes in diaspora. The church at that time consisted almost entirely of Jews or Gentiles who had become followers of Christ through having been first conveyed to Judaism. In other words most Gentile in the church in the first decade or so were first of all Jewish proselytes. Secondly, the phrase "the twelve tribes" was a term that referred to the Jewish nation in general. You'll find it used in that sense in Matthew 19:28 and in Paul's presentation to King Agrippa in Acts 26:7. But clearly James was not speaking to the Jews in general or he would never have introduced himself as a "servant of Jesus Christ" because that name was anathema to those many Jews who did not accept Christ. Further, it was not given to James to know the full meaning of the gospel as it was to Paul or the things to come as are given to John. Therefore, James had to be speaking to the Jewish believers of his day, both in Jerusalem and scattered throughout the Roman empire. Based on history and Scripture there is no doubt of that.
 

Eastxn

Well-Known Member
Matt, Amethyst, Everlasting Life:

I respect your opinions but we'll just have to agree to disagree. Please don't mistake my tone as being argumentative. That's never my intention here. My apologies if it seems that way. I'm just passionate about God's word is all. I'm just one of those oddball people who takes the bible word for word for exactly what it says...nothing more and nothing less.
 

Amethyst

Angie ... †
I'm just one of those oddball people who takes the bible word for word for exactly what it says...
We all take Scripture word for word. But we, as 'oddballs' also consider historical context of passages as well, as classic interpretation of scripture has always been.
Which is what you are not taking into consideration.
 

Wings Like Eagles

Well-Known Member
As others have stated, James is speaking to sanctification not salvation. Take a look at the highlighted portions below.

14 What [does it] profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what [does it] profit?
17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!
20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?
22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God.
24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent [them] out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. [Jas 2:14-26 NKJV]

'If someone says he has faith but does not have works' - How are we supposed to show others our faith if we never put our faith into practice and produce works?

'I will show you my faith by my works' - This is how faith is made visible to others, encouraging them and being a witness to them.

'Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?' - Faith and works go hand and hand. Works demonstrate faith, and faith is tested as you are sanctified and realize that God is telling the truth.

And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. [Gen 15:6 NKJV] - This scripture was fulfilled and Abraham's faith was 'made perfect' by his works (taking action and believing what God said).

None of this has to do with salvation, it has to do with your faith being visible to others through works. Putting our faith to practice. Increasing our faith in God by testing our faith and applying it.

Salvation is faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins alone.

True faith in Christ will inevitably produce good works.
Yes. A Christian is one who is filled with the Holy Spirit (and that is the only factor that decides whether or not one is "born again" --see Romans 8:9 but, in fact the entire chapter of Romans 8 is about life in the Spirit). If one has the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, one cannot help but display the fruits of that life-giving Spirit. It doesn't mean that we will not "grieve the Spirit" of Christ occasionally, dropping into carnal habits. But, over time, God will burn away those impurities and, at final sanctification, present us as a Holy Bride to His Son. But, Paul admonishes us to make sure that we are genuinely in Christ--that if no one can tell that we are Christians, then we have "failed the test" of genuine faith. (see 2 Corinthians 13:5) So, neither the writings of Paul or James contradict each other.
 

Eastxn

Well-Known Member
Amethyst I understand what you're saying and y'all make sense except for one little problem. Maybe you can explain it to me. I agree that gentiles at the time could become jewish proselytes; however the twelve tribes are physical bloodlines. Gentiles could never be part of Israel genetically.
 
Last edited:

Everlasting Life

Through Faith in Jesus
Matt, Amethyst, Everlasting Life:

I respect your opinions but we'll just have to agree to disagree. Please don't mistake my tone as being argumentative. That's never my intention here. My apologies if it seems that way.

I appreciate your charitableness. :)
 

Chris

Administrator
Staff member
If it were irrelevant then the bible wouldn't bother to mention it. You're right that the early church consisted of jews. But these jews in the book of James are scattered abroad. James is speaking to jews in the tribulation, not the church in the church age, which consists of neither jew nor gentile.

Perhaps this will help?


Understanding James
By Jack Kelley

Question: My question concerns the letter to the church by James, especially James 2:14-2:26. This sounds to me like a works based salvation and not only faith based. It seems to me the letters to the Jewish Christians puts forward a work based salvation and the letters by Paul a faith based salvation. Is not the letters written to the Jewish Christians written to those that will be in the great tribulation? If you look at the salutation it does not mention the church but the tribes of Israel.

Answer: Your confusion demonstrates the danger of trying to combine grace and works into a formula for salvation. One would never be sure of doing enough and instead of having an assurance of salvation would live in constant fear of falling short, and not knowing until it’s too late.

But that’s not the point of the James letter. It’s to demonstrate that true faith will result in a need to express the love of the Lord to others through what we call good works. These good works are the evidence of our faith. They won’t substitute for a lack of faith, but instead, provide us with the assurance that our faith is real.

Best of all, it’s not a matter of how much we do. It’s only a matter of acting when the Lord prompts us. He will never ask for more than we can accomplish, and when He prompts us to act He’ll always provide the means to do so. These times become the source of great joy as we realize He has chosen us to partner with Him in expressing His love to someone in need.

So salvation is by grace through faith, and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Works are evidence of faith and give us assurance of our salvation. The proof of this can be found in John 6:28-29. When the people asked Jesus what work God requires of us, He replied, “The work of God is this. Believe in the one He has sent.”

The idea that parts of the New Testament are written for Jews and other parts for Gentiles cannot be supported by Scripture. The fact that James addressed his letter to the 12 tribes scattered among the nations simply tells us that when he wrote it (most likely sometime before 50 AD) the Church was predominantly Jewish.

https://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/understanding-james/
 

Chris

Administrator
Staff member
Faith Or Works?
By Jack Kelley

Question: Romans 4:2 seems to say that Abraham was made righteous through faith and James 2:21 seems to say he was made righteous by works. Could you explain the context of James 2 because it seems to say that if you have faith but you don’t do works your faith is dead, implying that maybe you’re not saved.

Answer: The Bible is clear in stating that our salvation comes from faith, not works, as Paul explained in Romans 4:1-5, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:4-7 and other places.

What James said is that true faith will manifest itself in works, and he used Abraham as an example. In James 2:22 he wrote that Abraham’s faith and his actions were working together and his faith was made complete by what he did. Notice the faith came first and was made complete in subsequent action.

(Notice also that it was God who determined what action Abraham should take. Action we initiate on our own to somehow prove to others that we are saved is meaningless to the Lord.)

What James said was confirmed in Hebrews 11:17-19, where the writer used the same example.

“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.”

Abraham had faith in God long before he was asked to sacrifice his son. Because of his faith he reasoned that God would keep His promise to bless the world though Isaac no matter what. He believed that even if he killed Isaac, God would raise him from the dead rather than break His promise. Taking action was evidence of his faith. Paul and James agreed.

https://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/faith-or-works/
 

Eastxn

Well-Known Member
Chris I want to clarify something after reading your post. It's not that part of the new testament is to Jews and other parts to Gentiles. It's that part is to Jews and other parts are to the church during the church age. (consisting of both jew and gentile)

The entire bible is written FOR everyone. But doctrinally speaking, not all the bible is written TO everyone
 
Last edited:

Chris

Administrator
Staff member
Amethyst I understand what you're saying and y'all make sense except for one little problem. Maybe you can explain it to me. I agree that gentiles at the time could become jewish proselytes; however the twelve tribes are physical bloodlines. Gentiles could never be part of Israel genetically.

You probably need to read the entire 5 part "Letter from James" Bible study to understand it all in context. I'll include all the links below for you. :thumbup

https://gracethrufaith.com/verse-by-verse/a-letter-from-james/

https://gracethrufaith.com/verse-by-verse/a-letter-from-james-part-2/

https://gracethrufaith.com/verse-by-verse/a-letter-from-james-part-3/

https://gracethrufaith.com/verse-by-verse/a-letter-from-james-part-4/

https://gracethrufaith.com/verse-by-verse/a-letter-from-james-part-5-conclusion/
 
Top