Saturday, July 19, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Two Perspectives on Works and Faith (James 2:18-26 NKJV)

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. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 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. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:18-26 NKJV)

There are some who use this passage in James as a proof text for salvation by works.  They fail to look at the passage below or they choose to ignore it because it seems to contradict what they want to teach.

For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. (Romans 4:2-4 NKJV)

We know the Bible does not contradict itself.  So how are we to understand these two passages that seem to do just that?

They are two different perspectives.  In James, a Christian is justified before other men by their works.  If they say they are a Christian but don't live like it, then their faith is a dead faith in the eyes of other men.  In Romans, a person is justified before God by his faith instead of his works.  So next time the cults come knocking at your door trying to quote James to you and convince you that it's your works that save you, show them Romans and explain the two perspectives.

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