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Faith Works! (7 of 11)
Much of this message is influenced by Joel Gregory's, Faith Works.
A diamond begins by God's creative initiative in the hidden places under the earth's surface. In a mystery that human effort cannot duplicate, heat and pressure transforms carbon into a diamond. Similarly, at God's initiative, He makes salvation available by faith. What He has provided is beyond human effort. He worked that salvation in the heat and pressure of Calvary where Jesus took our sins. People cannot do that. Salvation is God's greatest creation.
On the other hand, no one knows a diamond's genuineness until an expert examines it for the "Four C's" - Carat, Cut, Clarity, and Color. In the book of James, James is focusing not so much on the beginning of faith, as he does on the continuing evidence of faith. Like a jeweler examining a stone for evidence of authenticity and quality, so James examines faith for marks of reality.
This might be the most misunderstood passage in the book. Some see it as a contradiction of Paul's teaching concerning the way of salvation, but when the teachings of the two men are understood properly, there is no conflict. They do not differ in basic beliefs, only in emphasis.
i. The situations faced by the writers were entirely different.
Paul has in mind people who are observing the ceremonial requirements of the Mosaic law in order to be saved, to acquire a right standing with God. James has in mind people who have distorted the teaching of salvation. Faith must be expressed in actions. So Paul describes the way of salvation, while James describes the life of those who are saved.
ii. James and Paul while using the same words they put different meanings into them.
"Works": Paul - the works of the Jewish law (circumcision, etc.), works thought of as a means of salvation. James - works are works of love, works as proof that faith is real, works as the fruit of salvation.
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