Posted 13 March 2006 - 12:47 AM
James 2:14-26 is a very tricky passage. It is used by mormons to justify the fact that it must be faith + works. That faith isnt enough to get to heaven. That we must also have works. Now the problem of course is that this contradicts a numerous amount of bible passages which leads to the question...Does the bible contradict itself. Well I want to spend some time looking at what James said and what the purpose of this passage was. What I hope you get from this is that James is not referring to being saved in reference to our eternal life but instead to the fact that faith itself while sufficient for salvation is useless on this earth. See James is looking at life in a temporal matter not an eternal matter. Faith gets you to the afterlife, but it does nothing to help those that live and struggle on this earth. As you read all of James which I hope you will, you will notice that he doesnt refer to eternal matters but to matters that relate to believers on this earth. That is the goal of James. To help believers understand how you are to live your life while on this earth. Many believers believe that they can just sit and do nothing while they wait to get to heaven. James is tryin to tell them that while you are on this earth you need to be expressing your faith. Now James 2:14 says "What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can faith save him?"Now this begs the question: is faith alone not enough. Well there are a few interpretations of this verse:1. Works are a condition of receiving eternal life The problem with this one is that it contradicts the bible in so many places specifically:Romans 4:4-5 "Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness."Romans 3:28 "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law."Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast"So it appears that this option isnt correct2. If you are disobedient, it proves you were never saved.This is another prominant idea, that if you somebody is disobedient to God in thier works then they were never actually believers. This of course has a few contradictions also:1 John 5:13 "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life1 Corinthians 3:10-15 "According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each manís work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each manís work. If any manís work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any manís work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire."Now both passages say that we are saved and that we know we are saved. Therefore we cannot be unsure of our salvation.3. That "save" doesnt refer to eternal life but to something elseThis is the one I will be arguing for. First a little back ground:Save has a variety of meanings in the New Testament. 1. Physical deliverance from death or sickness (Mt. 27:49; Mt. 8:25; Mt. 14:30)2. Salvation from this world at the time of Jesusí return (Rom 13:11).3. Salvation from the power of sin in our lives, i.e. sanctification (1 Peter 2:2).4. Salvation for believers from the consequences of sin (James 1:15; 1 Cor. 3:10-15).It is my contention that in this case James is referring to: Salvation from the consequences of sin. Why do i believe this? James 1:12-13 - Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, " I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.James 1:21 "Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted which is able to save your souls. Now that I have shown that lets tackle the actual passage:Verses 14-17 - notice very clearly the example that James gives. Faith is not shown to be useless to yourself, but instead it is useless to your brother or sister who is in need. Verse 16 makes it clear that if you tell somebody to be warm but dont give them what is necessary then what good have you done? Again notice that it does not refer to the person but to a brother or sister...It refers to displaying your faith through works. Verses 18-20 - This is the case of the imaginary objector. James is referencing to somebody who could object to what he is saying. So he acts as the person asking the question. Now the greek doesnt have quotation marks and it is my contention that the quotes should go after 19 and not at the end of 18....why you ask? 1 Corinthians 15:35 - "But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" Paul follows the up by saying in verse 36 "You fool!..." Now if you notice how verse 20 starts, it starts off the exact same with James calling somebody a foolish fellow. anyways whats the point of this objector. Well he is tryin to show that faith and works can be seperate. Well we know that people that dont believe in Jesus do good works and that demons have faith but only shudder. So whats the point James is tryin to make. Now since we have already established that James wasnt referring to eternal life but that he was referring to using faith we can again see the point he is making. That you can have all the genuine faith in the world. You can believe 100% in God and be secured...but it is useless b/c nobody will ever see it. It is in fact useless b/c nobody will ever see your faith in action. It just sits there unused building dust. You dont lose anything from it but you also dont build up your ministry either. Verses 21-26 - Finally to end the section James gives 2 examples for us to learn from:1. The story of Abraham. If we go back to Genesis we see that in Genesis 15:6 Abraham believed in God. Then in Genesis 20, Abraham sacrifices Isaac. This is showing how Abrahams faith matured to the point that his works were results of his growing faith. B/c he believed his actions resulted in him doing what the Lord commanded him to do. Romans 4:2-3 "If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast aboutóbut not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ďAbraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.Ē2. The story of Rahab - Again it was her faith that saved her from death. Her works were a result of her faithHebrews 11:31 "By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient."Now I know this was super long but I hope this was useful in seeing what James wanted to talk about. James was not worried about our eternal salvation in this passage but instead about how we expressed our faith to others. Again I hope you notice how James emphasizes that no matter how much faith we have, unless we express our faith it is useless to others.