The Book of JAMES
James J. Barker
SAVED BY FAITH, NOT WORKS
- This passage
has caused much debate and confusion. I remember talking to an unsaved Roman
Catholic relative about salvation by grace through faith
- The relative
insisted that one is saved by faith plus works. And he quoted James 2:24
to prove his point. I showed him several verses from the epistles of Paul, such
as Ephesians 2:8, 9.
- "For by grace
are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of
God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
- This Roman Catholic relative concluded that Paul contradicted James!
- We should not
be too hard on this Roman Catholic for there have been some great men that have
come to similar conclusions. For example, Martin Luther believed that James
- However, Luther
did not reject Paul, so he decided to reject James. He called it "an epistle of
straw" and declared that it should not be part of the New
- However, there
really is no contradiction – James and Paul complement each other. Eph.
2:10 says, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ
Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk
in them" (cf. Titus 3:8).
- James 2 teaches
that God tests faith by good works, and that good works are evidence of genuine
faith. In fact, there are
many similar Scriptures.
yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your
own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (II Cor.
THERE IS A COUNTERFEIT FAITH THAT DOES NOT SAVE
- If a man gets
caught with counterfeit money, he goes to jail.
- A man with counterfeit faith goes to hell.
- The story is
told that the devil had a meeting with all his demons to decide how to lead men
to hell. One demon suggested that they tell people that God doesn’t really love
them. The devil rejected that suggestion because it was quite obvious that God
in fact does love people.
- A second demon
stood up and suggested that they persuade men that death ends all and there is
no need to worry about eternity. This too would not do. Most people instinctively believe in an
suggestions were made but none were approved until finally one demon said: "I
recommend that we tell everyone that God loves them and there is a real heaven
and a real hell, but that all a person needs to do is say you believe and keep
on living in sin as you used to."
They decided to use this tactic and it has proven quite
- It is just a
make-believe story but it lines up with Scripture. Second Corinthians 11:14 and 15 says,
"Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light,"
and "his ministers" are "transformed as the ministers of
- Our Lord said
in Matthew 13:25 that while men slept,
the devil "came and sowed tares among the wheat, and
went his way."
- Tares look just
like wheat, but the wheat is genuine and the tares are not. Our Lord said "the tares are gathered and burned in the fire" (Matt.
- Notice James
says, "though a man say he hath faith…" (2:14). In other words, he
says he has faith but he is not genuinely saved.
- Not long after I was saved, I heard this statement:
"There are many professors, but few
- The Bible teaches that a faith that does not result in
good works cannot save. Many nominal Christians have never been born again. Week
after week they go to church and stand and sit and sing and pray and listen to
sermons but they are headed straight for hell.
- Many people say, "I believe in God" or "I believe in
Jesus" but they are lost; they have never been genuinely converted. James says
"the devils also believe, and tremble" (2:19).
- Saving faith is more than mental assent to certain
well-known facts concerning God. A sinner must be born again. And when he is
truly born again there will be a definite change in his life resulting in good
- Second Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore if
any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold,
all things are become new."
- Let’s not be so eager to get people converted that we
carelessly accept any kind of profession.
FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD (2:18-20,
- A faith without
works is not a real faith at all – it is only a make-believe
- Works are not
the root of salvation, but they are the fruit of
- Our Lord said,
"Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16).
- And yet we have
people who claim to be saved who give absolutely no evidence of
- True living
faith produces works. If it doesn’t produce works, then it is dead, i.e. barren,
useless, worthless, and good for nothing.
illustrates this point by giving the example of how some insincere so-called
church-goers will not one finger to help a brother or sister in need (2:15, 16;
cf. I John 3:17, 18).
- M.R. DeHaan
said: "That is what is wrong today. How many times do you say to a brother in
trouble, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and do it only to get rid of him? The world wants
action, not words, and many a cheap, stingy heart is camouflaged under pious
cant and hollow prayer. The world is not interested in our prayers. It wants
evidence. How many souls are being kept from Christ through our
- In other words:
Action speaks louder than words!
The Lord puts needy people in our way so that we can help
- I’m not talking
about giving money to lazy loafers or to con men or to people who will waste it
on alcohol or cigarettes or drugs.
I am talking about helping true Christians who are in genuine
- Our Lord said in Matthew 7:21, "Not every one that
saith (cf. James 2:14) unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom
of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in
- Our Lord said in Luke 6:46, "And why call ye
me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"
- A person can understand about salvation intellectually
but still make no commitment. Too many preachers are shooting for the head when
they ought to be aiming at the heart.
WORKS ARE THE EVIDENCE OF SAVING FAITH
- Good works are
the outward proof of the reality of our faith. God knows our hearts but man
cannot – therefore, works give an outward expression to what would otherwise be
- Note the word
"shew" (2:18). To show faith apart from works is impossible. True faith and good
works are inseparable.
- James gives two
examples from the Old Testament. They were justified before God by their faith
(cf. Heb.11:17-19, 31).
- But they were
justified before men by their works (James 2:21-26).
- Abraham was
saved because he "believed God" (2:23; cf. Gen. 15:6).
- But it was
years later that he "offered Isaac" (2:21). This proved to men that he
had true faith in God. His faith was tested up on Mt. Moriah and he passed the
- Rahab the
harlot was a Gentile who heard about the true God of Israel and believed in Him
(Joshua 2:9-11). She gave evidence of her faith by helping the two Israelite
- James concludes
by comparing faith to the human body. He likens works to the spirit. The body
without the spirit is dead and useless, and so is faith without works. It is a
worthless faith, not a genuine saving faith.
You are writing a gospel, A chapter each
By deeds that you do, By words that you
Men read what you write, Whether faithless or
Say! What is the gospel according to YOU? --