Posts Tagged ‘works verses grace in the espislte of James’


Ahh, the book of James.

It can be on of the “Legalist’s” favorite  Epistles in the New Testament.

And for the proponents of “Grace alone”, it can be the one book that they wish wasn’t actually in the Bible, even as Martin Luther remarked that the  Book of James was, “a right strawy epistle“.

I maintain and believe that ALL the Words of God uphold one another,  supporting each other and giving insight to each of the other statements and doctrines of the Bible,  and so let’s take a look together to see what the Book of James teaches the Body of Christ regarding GRACE and HOLINESS and GOOD WORKS.

Are Holiness and Good Works NECESSARY for salvation?

Consider the following Scriptures:

James 1:12 —
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has BEEN APPROVED {or PASSED THE TEST}, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him

James 1:15-22  —
Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when SIN  is accomplished, it brings forth DEATH … and in  knowing this, we must be “quick to hear, slow to speak {context is, regarding this topic of ‘works’ and staying pure in the midst of temptation}  … putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness in humility receive the Word implanted, which is able to save your souls.  But PROVE YOURSELVES DOERS of the Word, and not merely HEARERS who DELUDE themselves”

James 1:23
“For if anyone is a hearer  of the Word and NOT A DOER, he … has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was”

James 1:25 —
But one who looks INTENTLY {focused, concentrated, engrossed} at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and ABIDES {continues in, remains in, lives in, dwells in} by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an EFFECTUAL DOER this man will be blessed in what he does
{This verse does not state the forgetful doer will die and go to hell, but does teach  the one who does NOT DO what the Word states will not be blessed}.

James 1:27 —
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this:  to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself UNSTAINED by the world
{Does this Scripture state that by good deeds AND ‘keeping oneself unstained by the world’ one has a pure, or correct,  religion   VERSUS   being self deceived, thinking one is religious, and not actually being saved at all?}

How about  James 2:14, 17 —
“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has NO WORKS?  CAN THAT FAITH SAVE HIM?  … Even so faith, if it has NO WORKS, IS DEAD, being by itself

James 2:19-20 —
“You believe that God is one.  You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.  BUT are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith WITHOUT WORKS IS USELESS?”

James 2:22-26  —
“You see that faith was working WITH HIS WORKS, and as a result of the WORKS, faith was perfected   … You see that a man is JUSTIFIED by WORKS and NOT BY FAITH ALONE.  In the same way was not  Rahab the harlot also justified by WORKS … For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD.”

And forging ahead, we see in Chapter 4,

James 4:4 —
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?   Therefore whoever  wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an ENEMY OF GOD.”

James 4:7-11 —
Submit therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  CLEANSE your hands, you sinners; and PURIFY YOUR HEARTS, you double-minded.  Be miserable and mourn and weep …. humble yourselves … Do not speak against one another ...”

James 4:16-17 —
… all such boasting is evil.  Therefore, to one who knows the right thing TO DO and does not do it, to him IT IS SIN.


Okay.  These are very strong Scriptures which a Legalist can hold up and take a stand stating that it is indeed BY WORKS with faith that one is saved.

But again, lets look at all the intent of the entire New Testament, so that we will correctly be interpreting what is taught in this letter.


What is the  Bible’s definition of FAITH?
Bible Faith is defined as,   when one hears the Word of God, one believes it at face value and acts upon it as though it were  absolutely true, even before one sees, feels, or experiences its Truth in the natural realm.

Christians do this  for  Salvation.

a)  We’ve HEARD  the Word preached that Jesus died for our sins,  then we
b)  BELIEVE the Word is True,   then we
c) STATE with our mouth that we believe the Word is True,    and  CALL ourselves Christians,   then we
d) ACT as Christians for the rest of our earthly days (or so we should do so, as I am revealing in my HOLINESS studies)

This is FAITH with ACTION.
Or, as James teaches, Faith with Works.

2nd Example:

Abraham is our Old Testament example of the exact same principle.

a) HEARD the Word / the Promise that he would receive a child,   he then
b) BELIEVED the Word / Promise was True,   and so
c) CALLED himself “Father of Many Nations” or “Abraham” even before having the Promised child.

d)  Then Abraham SHOWED that believed so strongly in God’s Word / Promise, that when asked to sacrifice that one and only Promised child, Abraham did not disobey God’s request but tied Isaac to the altar and raised the blade to kill him.  Abraham WALKED OUT his faith.  Abraham showed  ACTION with his faith.  Abraham DID what God requested.

And I believe this is what James is teaching the Body of Christ regarding FAITH WITH ACTION  or WORKS

I believe the Book of James shows us that actual Christian FAITH is always a VERB.

True Faith will always be acting out, or  always  revealing itself, or always  doing some good work or revealing  some Biblical fruit.

I do not see FAITH taught in the Bible  as a one time action which is never to be used, or exerted, or revealed  ever again.

Not a one time faith  which says, “I prayed the prayer of salvation 10 years ago and so I am saved” but then has never changed its lifestyle or outlook on life since.

It seems to me, throughout the New Testament, that our FAITH will continually show itself to outsiders, by walking in a lifestyle that is written in the Bible.

For if we truly BELIEVE in the God of the Bible, and if we truly BELIEVE in the Bible itself, and if we truly BELIEVE  the passages which tell us that God judges  unrighteous acts, or that “without holiness NO ONE will see the Lord” {Hebrews 12:14} then we will have a reverent fear of God and desire to walk in the holiness or good works that we are told to walk in, to be sure we are pleasing to our Father.  If we  have FAITH that His Word is True then our FAITH will  spur us on to the holiness and good works outlined in the New Testament.

Therefore, I believe the totality of the Book of James, along with every other New Testament Book,  teaches the Body of Christ that if we TRULY BELIEVE God’s Word / Promises, we WILL HAVE ACTION.   We WILL perform GOOD WORKS.  We will walk in GOOD DEEDS.  We will walk in HOLINESS.

So James isn’t teaching that our Good Works or Holiness SAVES US but he IS teaching Good Works or Holiness WILL ACCOMPANY THE SALVATION EXPERIENCE.  It just will.  Because we will BELIEVE God at His Word that we must be doing such.

Thank You, James … the half brother of Jesus, who grew up in the same household with Jesus,  listening to Jesus’ wisdom and teachings … thank you for teaching us what salvation should look like / what salvation really means.


“Scripture  taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R).  Copyright (c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.  http://www.Lockman.org”,
unless otherwise noted



Four Other Topics  Found in the Book of James:



The Coming of the LORD

Praise the Lord.

James 5:7 reminds us —
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the COMING OF THE LORD … You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the COMING OF THE LORD  is near.  Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged;  behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

This is the focus of this Blog  …  The Coming of the Lord!

And here in the Book of James we see Christ’s Return mentioned again, as the writer encourages his readers to WALK IN HOLINESS or GOOD DEEDS.

Reminding ourselves to keep looking for Christ’s Appearing, reminding ourselves to keep  our eyes open  looking for the Return  of our Lord in the sky, WILL encourage us to keep our “hands clean” and “our hearts pure” {James 4:8} …  afterall, who wants to  be “caught” in sin / committing sin / continuing in sin / living in sin, when He Returns for us.

So be encouraged saints!

Follow the Words and encouragement  of the writers of the New Testament to keep yourself from sin, so that when Christ appears to take us home, we will not be “ashamed” at His appearing   {1 John 2:28}




Once Saved Always Saved?

Does the Book of James make any mention that such is true or false?

Consider the Scripture:

James 5:19-20 —

“My brethren, if any among YOU strays FROM the Truth and one TURNS HIM BACK  let him know that he who turns a SINNER from the error of his way will SAVE his soul  from DEATH and will cover a multitude of sins.
{What I see taught in this one Scripture is that one CAN fall away from,  or turn away from,  their salvation, for in talking to the BRETHREN, James says  YOU, meaning a BROTHER  can turn away.   Then James goes on to state that this person has returned to the state of being a SINNER, as James no longer calls him a BROTHER.  I believe this one Scripture supports the doctrine that one can indeed fall away from, or turn away from, their salvation / loose their salvation.}



Below are the Scriptures which  support that by  GRACE ONLY are we saved
{as I supply in my other Holiness Studies}

Consider the following Scriptures:

James 1:18 —
“In the exercise of His will He brought us forth {or gave us new Birth} by the Word of Truth
{thereby showing by GRACE and God’s will we are saved, not by WORKS}

James 2:10-13 —
“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all {of breaking all the law} …  mercy triumphs over judgment”
{The context here is that we are all law breakers, but mercy will triumph to those who show mercy … and it is MERCY that God has poured upon us by putting the punishment of our sins upon  Christ  — 1 Peter 2:10, Titus 3:5}.



Finally, keep giving!

James 5:1-6 —
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you …. you gold and your silver  … will be a witness against you … It is in the last days that you have STORED UP your treasure … pay of the laborers … withheld by you … and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.  You have lived luxuriously on the earth …
{The “good work” needing to be done in these particular Scriptures is the giving of money to missionaries / gospel workers who are doing the harvesting for the Lord versus  HOARDING by people who have money.   Just thought I’d remind us rich Westerners of the Lord’s teaching that we should be giving and not hoarding or spending only  on ourselves}  🙂



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