Thursday, 20 December 2012

Does James Say Man is Justified by Works?

Mike Gendron
One of the most popular verses in Roman Catholicism [and other religions] is James 2:24 where it is written: "You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone?" Why does James appear to contradict Paul and other writers of the New Testament? It is because Paul is dealing with the nature of justification and James is dealing with the nature of faith. James is not teaching "how one is justified." He is contrasting two kinds of faith, living genuine faith vs. dead spurious faith. That is why he gives three illustrations of living faith, Abraham, Rahab and the human body.
James wrote "You see then that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone" (Jas. 2:24). The Greek word for justify also means vindicate, to defend or uphold. So James is saying: "You see then that a man is vindicated (or defends and upholds his living, saving, God-given faith) by his works and not only by a mere profession of faith. The word vindicate could also mean to clear from suspicion. In no way is James teaching that sinners are justified by works because he has already made the point that salvation is a gift from God according to God's will not the will of man (1:17-18).
James is asking professing Christians, who have not shown evidence of their new life in Christ, to "show me your faith" (Jas. 2:18). But faith is invisible to man. It is an unseen relationship between man and God. Since faith cannot be seen, the best way to prove one's faith is to be "doers of the word and not merely hearers" (Jas. 1:22). Those who do the word of God will live a righteous life in obedience to God. That is why James said: "I will show you my faith by my works" (Jas. 2:18). James is saying justifying faith will be evidenced by works.
Paul, on the other hand, is dealing with false teachers who said you must have faith plus obey the law. (Gal 1-3)....
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