How would you respond if I said this, “A man is justified by works and not by faith alone”?
Well, if you are Reformed in any sense when it comes to salvation, this might get your soteriological bones a little jittery. Say what?! But look here, I didn’t say it. The Holy Spirit did, James 2:24. James has caused some consternation in the history of the church with such statements as this. So, let me sweep aside 2,000 years of church conflict and clear it up for you 😉
It is evident that from reading James 1-2, James is not writing about works of the Law as we commonly think about it, but rather he is writing about works of faith. Yeah, works of faith. After all, he does say, “faith without works is dead.” The context of James saying this is that the leaders of the church are pretty shabby leaders. They cannot bridle their tongues, they use worldly distinctions between the rich and the poor showing honor to the dishonorable, and they have not assisted the orphans and widows of the church in their affliction. These guys stink like that dead fish on the beach your two year old stares at eager for it to move again.
James is saying that their professed faith is demonic, because they are living like the demons (James 2:19). A faith that is a mere profession is a demonic faith. What you need to be saved is faithful works, works of faith, etc.
It is like James is saying, “You can say all day long that you have faith, but if you are not your brother’s keeper your faith is dead. Faith is obedient, faith is repentant, faith is going to act. Without this you are a cadaver, a lifeless body.”
Works fill up faith, like Abraham (Hebrews 11:8-12). Here is James’ analogy in 2:26, “For just as the body without the spirit [breath] is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” Follow his thinking. You have body and breath and he is talking about faith and works. So, the body is faith and works are the breath. If you take the breath out of the body you have a carcass. If you take works out of the faith you are pretty much a demon.
So, bottom line? A man is justified by works and not by faith alone. If you trust Jesus you will do good works. It’s that simple.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments…If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me” John 14:15, 23-24.