James has been discussing the relationship between faith and works. Today’s verse causes many people to get all discombobulated, but I have been saving an explanation for today that may help us better understand this topic…
You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. (James 2:24)
From time to time, a Christian will mention a book of the Bible that they don’t especially care for. In that moment I look for lightning to strike (no, not really) because all 66 books of the Bible are God-breathed and important. I get that we have our favourite books and our favourite genres of Scripture, but we should love the whole Book.
I understand that Martin Luther was not a big fan of the book of James, because he was opposing the church’s teaching of salvation by works, and James places great importance on works. Some people think the book of James was a response to Paul’s emphasis on faith, but James was likely written before the Pauline epistles. Some people think that James and Paul contradicted each other, but in reality, their writings complemented each other.
Some Bible teachers like to distinguish it this way: Paul emphasized faith, because his focus was on justification before God. James emphasized works, because his focus was on justification before man. “Justification” is a theological term that refers to salvation. To be justified is to be declared righteous. God sees our heart and knows our faith, and declares us to be righteous on the basis of what He sees on the inside. Men cannot see into our heart; all they can see is what we do. They declare us to be righteous on the basis of the evidence they see on the outside.
So in summary, faith is how we get saved by God’s grace, and works are how we show the world that we are truly saved.
Today’s Good News is that we can witness to the world by our works.
Now, go share the Good News…
FAITH in ACTION!
If you are joining us part way through this Journey in James, you can access the devotionals you have missed in the archives. (The series started on June 1.)
If this is your first visit to this website, please read the “Featured Post” from March 1, 2018.