Saturday, September 3, 2016

Thanks, James.

The Word for today:
James 2:14-26
mark this: James 2:20b
Faith without works is dead.
Uh-oh. We're at that part of the book of James. The part that says it isn't really through faith that we are saved...
Stop it. There are no uh-oh passages in the Bible that somehow refute the clear meaning of the whole.
Let's first look at the "preface" to the passage that has caused so much consternation.
Let's see...the preface to James 2:14-26 would have to include Genesis, the linchpin of the entire Bible:
Abraham believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)
And the preface to James 2:14-26 would have to include Romans, the Bible's comprehensive treatise on soteriology (salvation):
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith." (Romans 1:16-17)
And the preface to James 2:14-26 would have to include Ephesians, which reaches the highest spiritual peak in all of scripture:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Only after these prefatory remarks do we encounter James 2:20--
Faith without works is dead.
The obvious conclusion is that James is not refuting but explaining the great Bible truth that salvation is by faith alone.
The Bible teaches that --
Faith is the root of salvation -- which Paul emphasizes in Romans and Ephesians, above.
Works are the fruit of salvation—which James emphasizes.
Paul and James are not standing face-to-face fighting each other, but they are standing back-to-back, defending the citadel of faith from opposite foes. James says that faith saves you, but not phony faith. Paul says that faith saves you, not works. Both say that the root (faith) will bear fruit—the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
James has nothing against faith. What he’s against is “professing faith” — that which is just lip-service faith.
Lip-service faith is dead. It is certainly dead. It is obviously dead. A man can mouth the words--the lingo--of faith and then live a life which blatantly and habitually denies those words. That man's faith is dead, and James does us a service by saying so.
James never kicked anyone out of heaven. And he’s called many a sinner home. James is awesome.
Like his half-brother Jesus, James is in the saving business. Up in heaven there will be a lot of people running up to James and saying, “Thanks, James. Except for your book, I wouldn't have realized that my faith was dead. I wouldn't be here without you."
I know, because I am one of those people.

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