If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 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? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. -James 2:15-17 NKJV
James 2:14-26 tells us faith without works is dead. He speaks of dead faith and demonic faith (“even the demons believe”). But then he speaks of saving, dynamic faith. He also speaks of salvation / faith viewed by God, and salvation / faith viewed by man. God sees our faith. Man cannot see our faith, so he must judge our faith by our works.
James refers to Abraham who believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6). This is quoted several times in the New Testament (Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23). Then, James refers to Abraham obeying God and offering his son Isaac. It is significant that Abraham was justified by God (Genesis 15) years before he offered his son (Genesis 22).
“How was Abraham ‘justified by works’ (James 2:21) when he had already been ‘justified by faith’ (Romans 4)? By faith, he was justified before God and his righteousness declared; by works he was justified before men and his righteousness demonstrated.” -Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Mature (also, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary), David C. Cook Publishers.
Abraham was not saved by faith plus works, but by a faith that works. We cannot work our way to Heaven (Galatians 2:16; Galatians 2:21; Romans 4:3-5; Ephesians 2:8-9). But when we have true faith / trust / belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior, that faith will result in works. And, that true faith in Jesus is what saves (John 3:16; John 3:36; John 5:24).
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. -Galatians 2:16
One last thought. If you say you are saved, but have no good works done for the Lord or His church, you might ought to reexamine your salvation. Again, we are not saved by faith plus works, but by a faith that works.
-David R. Brumbelow, gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com, July 15, AD 2019.
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