Faith Works!

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Third, James argues that a commitment without appropriate deeds is worthless by bringing in two biblical narratives. The first is the binding of Isaac in Genesis In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?

James She was declared just on the basis of her deeds in that she hid the messengers and directed them how to remain safe when they left.

Faith Works - GOD'S LOVE

Her being declared just in James is a reflection of her deliverance in the Hebrew text and the connection that was made between that deliverance and her deeds in Joshua 2. James ends with a pithy analogy that sums up his point.

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So also when deeds are separated from faith or commitment, one has, not just something that is defective, but something that is dead. It looks like James is intentionally contradicting Paul. This is what results in justification. James uses the three terms Paul uses: faith , works , and justified. He uses the same example of Abraham, and, just like Paul, he quotes Genesis There is enormous overlap between James and Paul:.

And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works?

Can faith save you? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. Faith, Works of the law, Works, Justified. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Justified, Faith apart from works, Works not faith alone.

For if Abraham was justified by works , he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren?

Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works.

What James means by “Faith without works is dead”

What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; but Israel, who did strive for the righteousness that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith , but as if it were based on works. Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road?

For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. Basis of faith versus basis of works, justified by works, Faith without works is also dead. Download this table as a free PDF.

Read it later, print it out, or share it with a friend. It seems we have two equal voices in the New Testament contradicting each other. How are we to handle this?

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When Paul wants to illustrate the works of the law he opposes, he uses the example of circumcision, Sabbath, and purity regulations. But when James speaks of the law, he refers to charitable deeds, obedient sacrificial actions, acts of hospitality. But James never mentions circumcision.

Only after bringing Isaac to the later does God say to Abraham:. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son. For James, this is a promise of justification more than a declaration of justification.

Faith Works

In other words, both James and Paul appeal to the example of Abraham, but James and Paul appeal to different aspects of that example. Even though they both cite Genesis , they use the verse quite differently. Learn more about the online course. As you can see, there is a clear linguistic overlap between Paul and James.

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Instead, James gives us a canonical perspective from which we can ask: are we reading Paul appropriately? If these three aspects really are borrowed from Paul, then James must have been written later than Romans and Galatians. But did he? The letter to the Romans was sent west from Corinth—where Paul wrote it—to Rome. For James to have read Romans, the letter would have needed to reach Rome, become influential, and be copied.


It is unlikely that the historical James, who was martyred by 62 CE, could be responding to Romans. If James is reacting to Pauline ideas, then he must be writing before Romans and Galatians became available to him, for he does not seem so ignorant as to have completely misunderstood those letters if he had had them. So is faith without works dead? We can be in faith one minute, and in un-faith unbelief the next minute -- if we make a new decision based on the evidence being presented to us. The disciples had faith in John close to the beginning of Jesus' ministry , and did not in Mark at the end of Jesus' earthly ministry.

Fear is the opposite of Bible hope. Bible hope is a positive expectation based on and supported by a belief in God's Word. Fear is a negative expectation based on and supported by a belief in something bad. Both involve the imagination, the seeing part of our thinking, the ability to visualize something before it happens, or after it happens. Faith in God produces Bible hope — expecting good to happen.

Faith in bad things produces fear — expecting bad to happen. Faith is the support, the foundation, the underlying thing under both hope and fear. You cannot have hope which is a positive vision without faith which is a choice to believe in something. You cannot have fear which is a negative vision without faith which is a choice to believe in something bad. It is your belief that supports, undergirds, and provides the basis for your hope or fear.

The belief was a choice you made. Then it became part of your belief system. That provides the basis for your hopes or your fears. The primary action of faith toward God is speaking in agreement with God's Word. And then we stand in that position of faith, regardless of feelings or circumstances, no matter how long it takes.