The greeting.

Given the tenor of the times in which we now live, let me use an appropriate greeting from the apostle Peter. She who is in Babylon chosen together with you, greets you. (I Pt.5:13) Beloved, I believe that we live in fallen Babylon. (Rev.18:2) The world in which we live today is like Sodom and Gomorrah. (Jude 1:7, Rev. 11:8, Mt.10:14-15) The love of many for God has grown cold and lawlessness has increased. (Mt.24:10-14) I think this is true even in the visible church. We are in the Last Times. The apostle John says we are in the last hour. (I Jn.2:18)

I do not say any of this to depress us. No not at all. Rather, this ought to motivate us to believe more fully in Christ, to love God and to love Man more honestly, and to hate sin and fight against Satan more intensely, and to run upward to heaven with eager expectation to reach our goal soon and very soon. Sad times. Scary times. But exciting times to live for Jesus. The light shines the brightest in the darkest times. What glory we will give to God by living holily for Christ in Babylon.

The word of God.

Now today’s passage for our study is so appropriate for our times. James is speaking about true faith that produces good works or holy fruit. He writes against a mere empty profession of faith, that is to say a dead faith. Oh beloved, that is the great problem with many professing Christians. Their faith is dead. They have a name that the live. But they are spiritually dead. (Rev.3:1)

Please open up your Bibles to James 2:14-26. Hear the holy and perfect word of God.

Fruitless faith is dead faith.   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? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

Fruitless faith is useless faith.   James 2:18. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?

Two examples of living useful faith.   James 2:21. Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

The prayer.

Let’s pray and ask God’s help with this passage that has so divided the church of Christ. Pray.

The doctrine.

If I could put some of the difficulties of this passage aside for just a moment. This is actually a very simple passage. There really is just one basic truth or doctrine, that is fruitless faith in Jesus is not saving faith in Jesus. To put it in the positive, true saving faith in Jesus will produce holy fruits and good works in our life.

The outline.

There are three parts to this section. 1. In V.14-17 James says that fruitless faith is a dead faith. 2. In v.18-20 he says the same thing, he says that fruitless faith is a useless faith. There is no spiritual saving benefit of the possessor of such fruitless faith. 3. Lastly, in V.21-26 James illustrates what he has been saying from the lives of two OT saints, Abraham and Rahab.

The contradiction.

I want to first deal with an apparent contradiction in Scripture that we find here.

There are no true contradictions in Scripture because God is the holy perfect Author of His word. And as such He cannot truly contradict Himself. I admit there are apparent contradictions in the Bible. But since the problem cannot be on God’s side, it must be on our side. When we approach something that appears to be contradictory in Scripture it either means we do not have enough understanding of Scripture or else that this truth is beyond the full comprehension of saints upon the earth and we must wait until glory to receive full understanding. I think of such doctrines as the Holy Trinity. We believe this. We understand in part. When the Perfect comes in the Eternal Estate we shall know more fully.

The apostle Paul. Let’s look at Paul on justification first.

Paul is quite clear especially in Romans and in Galatians that a man is justified before God by faith alone in Christ alone apart from any works of the Law. Let’s just read a selection of proof texts.

Romans 3:20. because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. 21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;

Romans 3:28. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.(Rom.5:1-9, I Pt.2:24, 2 Cor.5:21, Jn.3:16, Rom.1:16-17, Rom.3:24-26, Rom.4:1-9, Rom.9:30, 10:4-10, 11:6, Eph.1:13, Eph.2:8, Phil.3:9, I Tim.1:16) 

Romans 4:5. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,  6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works.

Galatians 2:16. nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. (Gal.2:21, Gal.3:8-24)

This is how our larger catechism summarizes this truth.

WLC 70  Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners,(1) in which he pardons all their sins, accepts and accounts their persons righteous in his sight;(2) not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them,(3) but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them,(4) and received by faith alone.(5)

(1) Rom. 3:22,24,25; Rom. 4:5 (2) 2 Cor. 5:19,21; Rom. 3:22,24,25,27,28  (3) Tit. 3:5,7; Eph. 1:7 (4) Rom. 5:17-19; Rom. 4:6-8  (5) Acts 10:43; Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9

The apostle James. Now here with James, he says with equal clarity that a man is not justified by faith alone.

James 2:21. Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

The reconciliation.

Now what are we to do here? As we said we cannot admit real contradictions without destroying the Scriptures. So, how then do we understand these apparent contradictions?

Well obviously, we must seek to reconcile Paul and James. We believe that the clear Scriptures help us to understand the less clear related Scriptures. (WCF 1.7, 9)

There are only two ways to reconcile this passage.

Deeds merit.

You take James as teaching that your person is justified before God by your good works and so then you understand Paul in that light. You have to interpret the no justification by law passages as some kind of fleshly or non-graced ability to keep the law. Or something like this. This is the Roman Catholic position. For your instruction on this read the Council of Trent session six on justification and merit.

The Roman Catholic church teaches that there is initial justification by baptism, this is a current justification and that there is a future justification based on faith in Jesus and your good works. They include sanctification as part of your justification. This is the way they say Paul and James are speaking about the same kind of justification.

This destroys real grace. Then God’s gift of salvation is not real gift, it is part wage. This deprecates the atonement of Jesus Christ. It says Christ is not all sufficient. We make up part of our salvation. No Beloved, making James 2:18-26 our gospel when it is no gospel is foolish. Denying the clear gospel of Scripture because we are perplexed by James is bad theology.

Deeds indicate.

There is a more excellent understanding. Paul and James are answering two different errors about faith.

Paul is writing against the legalist, the man that believes by his law keeping he is meriting his own righteousness before God. This is the Galatian error. The false gospel was believe in Jesus for part of your righteousness and then keep the ceremonial and moral law to also add to your righteousness.

So, the legalist says, I keep the Law. I trust in my good works to give me favor with God. Paul says no. Only faith in Jesus that receives Christ, and all His merits justifies us before God. And not by any works of the Law. (Gal.3:11)

So, for the legalist God sends them to Paul. Here, look at Christ. Your good works are filthy rags. Repent and believe. And look to Christ.

James is dealing with antinomians or libertines. These are people that say, well I am justified by faith alone and then it does not matter at all how I live. I have faith in Jesus and now I am free to live in sin if I like.

For the libertine God sends them to James. Here, look at your sin. Look at the absence of your fruit. Repent and believe. Look to Christ. And follow Him.

If you wrongly understand the gospel preaching of Paul, you accuse him of being a libertine. (Rom.3:8, 6:1) If you wrongly understand the law preaching of James you accuse him of being a legalist. Oh beloved, Luther was right. How valuable and necessary it is to distinguish between law and gospel.

The legalist trusts in their works. They don’t know the law or the gospel. The libertine trusts in their profession. They don’t know the law of the gospel. The true Christian trusts in Christ. The one who has satisfied the demands of the law on our behalf and now we devote ourselves as a thank offering to Him.

The instrument of faith alone receives Christ.

Faith is believing in Jesus Christ to save you of your sins. True saving faith is a gift of God and a work of the Holy Spirit. (Eph.2:1-9, I Cor.12:3, WCF 14.1-2, WCF 11.2, WLC 72, WSC 86) 

The profession of faith in Christ is not always indicative of possessing faith.

However, merely saying “I believe in Jesus” or “Jesus is my Lord and Savior” is not the same thing as true or saving faith. (Rev.2:9) Judas went out and preached Christ. He did miracles in the name of Christ. Yet, he had no real saving faith. He was and is the son of perdition. Remember Simon the sorcerer called Jesus Lord and Savior and was baptized, but he was still in the gall of bitterness. He professed faith in Jesus that in reality he did not possess faith. (Acts 8:21-23)

Saying you have faith in Jesus and having faith in Jesus can be two different things.  The faith is proven or manifested by our good works.

Fruitless faith indicates the absence of true faith.

The primary lesson taught by James is that faith without works is not real faith.

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?

So, when we come to the ‘justification’ question.  James is not saying the works justify the person, but they justify or vindicate the faith.  Our persons are justified by faith.  Our faith is justified by works.

Jesus said the foolish man hears the gospel, and by application he says he believes, but he never builds his life on Christ, there is no living for Jesus, no fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Whereas the wise man hears the Gospel, says he believes, and builds his house on Jesus.  The building shows the (true) believing. (Mt.7:16-29)

The illustration that fruitless faith indicates the absence of true faith.

To make his point James uses a practical situation to show that faith that does not produces good works is useless like spoken love without deeds of love.

The illustration from men.

James 2:15. If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

I believe James, when he mentions clothing and daily bread is using a Hebraism to mean the necessities of life, so including other things for daily needs. (Gen.28:20, Mt.6:11, 6:31, I Tim.6:8) As an aside, daily needs do not include a free cell phone or television.

And the (hypocritical) professing Believer says, I love you brother! Be warm and well fed!  Great sounding words.  But they are empty words from a Christ-less heart.  This mocks the poor.  And in a way mocks God. (Gal.6:7, Prov.14:21, Prov.17:5)

The apostle John teaches the very same truth of James when he says, Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. (I Jn.3:18)

Malachi says to vain-faith-Israel go ahead try that kind of ‘faith’ out on your earthly ruler and see if he accepts you! (Mal.1:8)

Plus, this kind of deedless “faith” is contrary to the nature of God. When God loves us and says He loves us, He then shows His love by deeds. Think of John 3:16.

Listen to the Psalmist.

Psalm 72:12. For he will deliver the needy when he cries for help, The afflicted also, and him who has no helper.  13 He will have compassion on the poor and needy, And the lives of the needy he will save. 

Saving faith is alive, it moves, it breathes, it does because it flows out of union and communion with the LIVING Lord. (Heb.9:14, I Pt.1:3, Jn.15:5-6) Living faith produces inward and outward holiness. Dead faith does not. (Gal.5:16-21) Dead faith has no life-giving Spirit, it is earthy, carnal, and fruitless.

John the Baptist says this.

Matthew 3:8. Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 10 “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Jesus our Christ says this.

Matthew 7:17. So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits.

The illustration from demons.

To further prove his point on this, James says that fruitless faith person may say correct things about God in Christ but rise no higher than the faith of demons!

James 2:19. You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

James corrects the person that says well, how can you say my faith is not saving faith I have made an orthodox profession of faith! (Dt.6:4, Rom.10:9-10)

Having an orthodox confession of faith without good works puts a person in the company with the devil and demons.  Demons know that God is One.  Demons know that God is Triune – Three in One.  Demons ‘believe’ that Jesus is the Christ, The Lord.

And they are not saved. They know Jesus. But they hate Jesus. They are terrified of Jesus.   (Mk.1:24, 5:7, Lk.4:34, Acts 19:15, Mk.5:6-9, Jn.8:31-33)

Many of the same people that quote-unquote “believed in Jesus” (Jn.2:23-24) and cried out during His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Hosanna in the highest (Lk.19:38) were the very same people that cried out crucify, crucify!  (Mt.27:22)

Correct religious knowledge without saving faith in Jesus Christ is useless, worse than useless.  It will aggravate our sins and increase wrath on the Day of Judgment. It will go better for Sodom and Gomorrah than for the person that professes Christ but does not actually love Christ as proved by cups of cold water for His namesake. (WLC 151)

The inseparability of saving faith and good works.

Let me say a few words on the truth that true saving faith in Jesus will and must produce good works and that it is utterly impossible to separate true faith from good works.  As impossible as separating an orange tree from the fruits of the orange tree. Good trees produce good fruits. Bad trees cannot produce good fruits. (Mt.7:17-20)

Let’s look at James 2:18-20.

James 2:18. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?

In context, James is speaking about a professing Christian that says I have faith in Jesus but no good works and a professing Christian that says I have faith in Jesus and it produces good works.

From this, let’s address the person says I have good works, but I do not believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. The non-Christian says, I have no faith in Jesus as my Lord and Savior, but I do good works before God that are pleasing to God, that commends me to God.

Is this true that people that do not believe in Jesus as their savior can nevertheless do pleasing works to God? Simply put, no. The Bible says otherwise.

Romans 3:9. What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;  10 as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one;  11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God;  12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” (Rom.8:7, Eph.2:13, I Cor.2:14, WCF 16.7)

Only those with saving faith are truly joined to Christ. Only those truly joined to Christ are seen as acceptable by God, both our persons and our works are acceptable in Christ. (Eph.2:8-10)

Listen to what Christ says.

John 15:16   You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you. (read WCF 16.1-7)

The examples of saving faith and good works.

Now James concludes his argument by two practical examples from Scripture. James uses Scripture to prove Scripture. A good point to be remembered.

The example – Abraham.

V.21-24. Abraham is such an important example to use because of the status he held.  The Jews prided themselves of being children of Abraham and disciples of Moses.  (Jn.8:33-41, 4:12, Gal.3:6-7) You can see why you would want to claim solidarity with these two fellows?  Abraham was called, the friend of God. (Is.41:8, Jas.2:23, 2 Chron.20:7) The father of those that believe.

Person justified.

James uses Abraham (and Rahab) to prove Believers in the OT and Believers in the NT are justified the same way through (living-graced) faith in Christ.

Paul distinctly says Abraham was not justified (before God) by his works.

Romans 4:1. For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.  3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.  5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,

God declared Abraham righteous when he believed in the promised Gospel of God.

Genesis 15:6   Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Galatians 3:6. Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.  7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.  8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations shall be blessed in you.”  9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. (Gal.3:26-29)

Romans 4:8. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”  9 Is this blessing then upon the circumcised, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say, “Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.”  10 How then was it reckoned? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised

Faith justified.

Abraham was considered righteous before God because he believed the Gospel, and his faith was proved to be genuine by his obedience, here by offering Isaac that we find in Genesis 22:1-12. (Gal.3:6-9)

James 2:21. Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?  22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected;  23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

To make this V.21 say, Abraham was justified (before God) as righteous because he offered up Isaac – Genesis 22 contradicts V.23 that says Abraham believed and God justified him – Genesis 15.

The reconciliation must be that the offering up of Isaac testified that Abraham’s faith was genuine. (Heb.11:19)

The explanation has to be faith in Jesus Christ on our behalf justifies us before the throne of God’s justice.  The wages or the penalty of sin is not to do good works. The atonement for sins is death. We are required to do good works. Doing our duty can never atone for not doing our duty. Think of this. Even our best works are filled with so much imperfection, they could never stand God’s strict judgment. Even our good works need forgiveness.

The good works justify us before our own consciences, before man, before the world as having saving faith.  In other words, works help us judge the quality of faith true or false, strong or weak.

This is the explanation for when other NT passages speak of us being judged by our works. (Rev.20:12, 2 Cor.5:10) (see Manton, On James, p.245) 

The examples ~ Rahab.

V.25, 26.  Now James goes to the other end of the social spectrum to drive home his point.  Rahab, a female, a Gentile, and a former harlot. (Josh.2:1, 6:17-25, Heb.11:8-19, 31) God saves sinners, no matter how wicked by faith, a faith He gives them. (Heb.11:31)

Interestingly, both Abraham and Rahab are in Christ’s lineage. (Mt.1:1-5)             

James 2:25. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works (proved to be sincere) when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?  V.26.  For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.(Josh.2:9-11)

James does not focus on Rahab’s former sinful life.  James does not mention her faith, he presupposes she already believes.  His point is to show her faith by her deeds.

James 2:18  and I will show you my faith by my works.

The application.

Let’s conclude with some words of application. 

Warning.  See V.20, you foolish fellow!

I think here we need a word of explanation.  There are times when calling another man, a fool is forbidden. (Mt.5:22)

The idea with the prohibition is that the person hates his brother in Christ, a fellow believer of the true Gospel.  Now, the Bible shows us that there are other times, when God calls people fools, Christ calls people fools, and the apostles call people fools.  Not from a heart of hate, but from a heart that loves the truth, and truly loves the lost, enough to tell them forcefully their error is damning. Legalism is a false gospel. Antinomianism is a false gospel. It is loving to say so. 

By this we learn what the wisest man on earth next to Christ once said there is a time and a season for everything under heaven. (Eccl.3:1-8) A time to be soft spoken and gentle, and a time to be blunt and forceful.

Thomas Manton on this text says hypocrites (pretend Christians) usually have a sleepy conscience, so that we must not whisper to them, but cry aloud.

This passage warns and reveals hypocritical and formal Christians, those bereft of the Spirit of Christ. (Mt.7:24)

Examination.  This is an admonition for all that say they believe in Jesus Christ to test themselves to see if they really are in Christ or not. (2 Cor.13:5)

Part of the examination has to be what is my response to the real Jesus presented in Scripture?  Do I hate the truth of Christ?  Or do I love the truth of Christ? (Jn.3:16)

The other part of the examination has to be what is the fruit of my life? (Rev.20:12, Mt.7:23, 25:41-42)

Assurance.  This passage also motivates true Believers to look for the fruits of the Holy Spirit in their lives and by this to be assured that we are in an estate of grace and salvation.  (WCF 18.1-2) This is part of our duty to make our calling and our election certain (to us). (2 Pt.1:10)

1 John 3:18. Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.  19 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him. (I Jn.5:13, Ps.1:1-2, Ps.32:1-9)

Manton says there is a difference between peace with God (had by faith in Christ) and peace of conscience (often a product of view the fruits of the Spirit in our lives, even our good works. 

Motivation.  And this passage motivates us to strive for greater Christlikeness, to strive for more fruits of the Holy Spirit, to labor to do good works. (Phil.3:12-14)

Matthew 5:16   “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Amen

Study Questions.

  1. What are one, two, or three of the main truths taught in this passage? (Jas.2:14-26, Jn.15:1-10, Mt.21:12-22, Mk.11:12-19, Mk.4:19, I Cor.15:10)
  1. How does Paul say a person is justified or declared to be right with God or in right standing with the Law of God? (Rom.3:20-28, Rom.5:1-9, I Pt.2:24, 2 Cor.5:21, Jn.3:16, Rom.1:16-17, Rom.3:24-26, Rom.4:1-9, Rom.9:30, 10:4-10, 11:6, Eph.1:13, Eph.2:8, Phil.3:9, I Tim.1:16, Gal.2:16-21, Gal.3:8-24)
  1. How do we reconcile all of these Pauline passage with this one passage from James 2:21-26? Why cannot Paul and James be speaking about justification in the exact same sense? Are there any real contradictions in the Bible? What is a legalist? What is a libertine or antinomian? How does Paul speak to the legalist? How does James speak to the libertine? (Lk.15:25-32, Lk.18:9-14, Gen.3:4-6, Lk.6:46)
  1. What are the divine penalties for sin? Do good works pay for sin? What is God’s grace? If we add good works to God’s grace what happens to grace. If God pays you for something that you earned what do you call that? (Rom.6:23, Jn.3:16, Rom.4:4, Rom.11:1-6)
  1. What is true saving faith? Where does it come from? What are the principal acts of saving faith? (Jn.1:10-13, Eph.2:1-9, WCF 14.1-2, WCF 11.2, WLC 72, WSC 86)
  1. Show from Scripture people that said they had faith but did not? Is it possible to say we have faith but not possess faith? What do we learn by this? (Rev.2:9, Acts 8:21-23, Mt.13:18-23, 2 Tim.4:10, I Jn.2:19-23, Rev.3:1)
  1. What are good works in relationship to faith? What do good works do as regards to faith? If one does not produce good works what does that say about the nature of a person’s faith? (James 2:14-26, Mt.7:16-29, I Jn.3:18, Mal.1:8)
  1. How is a faith that does not produce good deeds unlike God? What lessons do we learn by this? (Jn.3:16, Ps.72:12, Heb.9:14, I Pt.1:3, Jn.15:5-6, Mt.3:8-10, Mt.7:17-20)
  1. How is making a sound profession of faith yet without good works like having the faith of demons? Do the demons know right things about God? Do they love God? Do they serve God out of love because of what they believe? What lessons do we learn for us by this? (Jas.2:14-20, Mk.1:24, 5:7, Lk.4:34, Acts 19:15, Mk.5:6-9, Jn.8:31-33, Jn.2:23-24, Lk.19:38, Mt.27:22)
  1. Can unbeliever, those without saving faith, do good works that please God? (Rom.3:1-19, Rom.8:7, read WCF 16.7)
  1. How does Paul say Abraham was justified before God? What example does James use in the life of Abraham that proved the reality of his saving faith? (Rom. 4:1-5, Gen.15:6, Gal.3:6-29, Rom.4:8-10, James 2:21-26, Gen.22:1-12, Heb.11:19)
  1. Who is Rahab? Where does the Bible say she had saving faith? What example does James use in her life to show that her saving faith produced good works? (Josh.2:1-11, 6:17-25, Heb.11:8-19, 31, Mt.1:1-5, James 2:25-26)
  1. How does this passage warn professing Christians that do not produce good fruits? What should we do about this? Is it loving to warn sinning Christians? Is it popular? Should we examine our lives for good works? (James 1:18-20, Eccl.3:1-8, Mt.7:24, 2 Cor.13:5, Rev.20:12, Mt.7:23, 25:41-42)
  1. How can James 2:14-26 comfort us and motivate us? (WCF 18.1-2, 2 Pt.1:10, I Jn.3:18-19, I Jn.5:13, Ps.1:1-2, Ps.32:1-9, Phil.3:12-14, Mt.5:16)
  2. Interact with the quote by C.S. Lewis on faith and works. “Regarding the debate about faith and works, it is like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most important.” Why is this essentially the Roman Catholic view of justification/salvation? Interact with this. Which is most important in justification-salvation? The root? Or the fruit?

 

 

 

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