The Great Divorce
December 6, 2009
INTRODUCTION: James asks two questions in verse 14:
"What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?"
"Can faith save him?"
These questions lead us to believe that there were some in James' day who spoke the language of Christianity without reflecting the reality of its truth in their lives.
James' entire letter consists of the tests of true faith, all of which are the practical fruits of righteousness in the life of the believer.
Don't forget, James has mentioned "deception" three times already in Chapter 1:16, 22, 26.
Works or fruit in the life of the believer is perseverance in trials, 1:1-12; obedience to the word, 1:13-25; pure and undefiled religion, 1:26-27; impartiality, 2:1-13; righteous works, 2:14-26; control of the tongue, 3:1-12; true wisdom, 3:13-18, etc.
In James 2:14-26, faith and works are mentioned together ten times in just 13 verses. James will draw this conclusion: "Faith that is not evidenced by a life of integrity is not biblical faith at all." To James, works are not an added extra to faith, but an essential expression of it.
As one approaches this passage, they must be careful to note that the purpose of this passage is not to teach what justifies, but to identify who is justified.
This passage has been one debated through the years as one that possibly is a contrast to Paul's teaching on the subject of faith. However, James is not in conflict with Paul, but both were standing back-to-back fighting two common enemies. Paul opposes works-righteous legalism. James opposes easy believe-ism. Both men make clear that we are going to be judged on the basis of what we have done, for that is a sure indicator of genuine salvation.
John 5:28-29, "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth — those who have done good, to ...
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