Are We Saved by Faith Alone or (Faith + Works) According to James?
Context Verses: James 1: 2-4 James 1: 22-27
This term denotes the systematic study of the translation of written language and its interpretation. In order to truly understand the intentions of the author it is important for one to go back to the original language. Whenever scripture doesn’t coincide in or SEEMS to contradict is most likely an error of translation or a misunderstanding of context.
Key terms in James 2:14
What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?
- Use- ὄφελος [ophelos]: Advantage, help
- Faith- πίστιν [pistis]: faith, belief, trust
- Works- ἔργα [erga]: action, deed, labor
- Save- σῶσαι [sōsai]: to save, heal, preserve ,rescue lFaith- πίστιν [pistis]: faith, belief, trust
Faith- πίστιν [pistis]: faith, belief, trust
Three ways faith can be used in scripture..
- Justifying faith as in the one that gives eternal life (context of the epistle rules this out, it is clear these are believers already James 1:2)
- Faith rest drill is the active application of the doctrine of scripture to a present situation (doing the word)
- Passive use of faith as in what is believed or doctrine. The totality of knowledge of scripture.
The type of faith James speaks of is that which has to do with a doctrinal belief. A belief in a standard of living which then should guide our way of life, and is no advantage to us if we don’t apply it. What is the point of reading the bible if we are not going to do what it says. Our understanding of the bible becomes meaningless.
Save- σῶσαι [sōsai]: to save, heal, preserve ,rescue
3 meanings of “save”
- Phase 1 salvation (saved from eternal penalty of sin)
- Phase 2 sanctification (saved from the power of sin) though the sin nature is still active we are given the option by the holy spirit to live in a way that matures us as believers
- Phase 3 glorification (saved from the present of sin) absent from the body, face to face with God, will not be resurrected until the rapture
Mark 3:4; Luke 9:56
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?
Justified- δικαιόω: To declare righteous, to validate, to justify, to vindicate
There are 2 types of justification the one that saves (God) and the one that validates faith (Man) before man, and also sanctifies. Romans 4:1-3/ Genesis 15:1-6
If Abraham was justified by works, that was good before men, but not before God. God’s justification is based on faith alone in Christ alone.
Abraham receives the word in his 70’s or 80’s, Isaac isn’t born until Abraham is 100 and the almost sacrifice didn’t happen until Isaac was in his 20’s. Almost 40 years had passed since God’s promise to Abraham before the actual work in Genesis 22:1 referenced in the book of James occurs. So this work cannot be what saved Abraham in regards to eternal salvation because in Genesis 15:6 it states he already was a believer.
Keep in mind what the purpose of James is, how to persevere through times of testing! God gave Abraham a test in order to see whether he would apply what he knew about God and his character. So this epistle is does not contradict the scriptures as some would say but it shows that our works show the amount of faith (doctrine) we have acquired. Someone who states they have a doctrinal belief (faith) that is not applied (works) in their life, that persons belief (faith) is useless to them because they are not utilizing it. James has nothing to do with eternal security.
We are Justified by faith alone [Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; Rom 11:6] in Christ alone and the instance one believes in the person and work of Christ they are imputed the perfect righteousness of God. This is phase 1 saved. The justification James is speaking of is the sanctification, which is to be validated by our actions in times of testing and adversity , we are to be able to use our belief and understanding (faith) of our doctrine as a means to make the right decisions. This is what saves us from the consequences of sin and carnality.
As we grow in our life as believers we will be tested repeatedly by God, through this test we are given the opportunities to move up a level in our maturity. We can either apply the word and pass[2 Peter 1:5-8], or choose with our flesh and fail and suffer [James 1:12-15]. Let us persevere, put off the old self, grow as believers, apply your faith(doctrine) and push towards maturity. We have been set aside by God to receive the reward that no money can buy, let us live in a way that shows we are grateful, it is the least we can do.