Unintended absence… my computer crashed, and it’s taken a few days to get back up and running! I’ll have some articles going up again probably tomorrow!
“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:20–26, KJV)
Let’s recall what we’ve learned so far. James is talking to saved Christians.
Where people go wrong in studying this book is to assume that ‘justified’ here means ‘saved’. And so, Messianics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Roman Catholics all insist we have to do works to be saved. However, clearly, the Bible says elsewhere that we are saved by faith and not of works, lest any should boast.
Do we have a contradiction here? Liberals say yes, but this letter is not to them anyway, as they are not saved – and James is talking about “Brethren”, meaning saved Christians.
And that’s the key to James. These people are already saved! So, obviously, if they’re brethren (already saved) THEN… this justification is different from salvation.
“Flimsy faith is dead; so are empty, faithless works. James’ argument is not pro-works/anti-faith or pro-faith/anti-works. He has simply said that genuine faith is accompanied by good works. Spiritual works are the evidence, not the energizer, of sincere faith.
J. Ronald Blue, “James,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 826.
So James begins to offer examples, much the same way Paul did in Hebrews – indeed, the same example as Paul. If we grant that Paul’s writings are inspired by God (remember, this is called Mechanical inspiration), then we must say that James’ writings were inspired by God also, and inerrant.
James and Paul quoted the same passage—Genesis 15:6—to prove their points (cf. Rom. 4:3). Paul said that Abraham was justified by faith, and James said that Abraham was justified by faith evidenced by what he did.
J. Ronald Blue, “James,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 826–827.
One of the key concepts here to walk away with is that if you walked down an aisle or raised your hand at a crusade of some kind and repeated someone’s prayer sixteen years ago – and your life remained exactly the same as prior – um… you’re very probably not saved. Up until the last 100 years, Christianity has always maintained that if you are a Christian, there will be a before/after change in your life. If before/after are exactly the same, except that you somehow think you’re a Christian – um, you’re not.
Now, if you begin to worry about “Does my life please God?” as I’ve said a hundred times, that’s a really good worry. That means you worry about that. That means you’re showing evidence of salvation. It’s not too far from that to reading and studying your Bible. To growing your prayer life. To growing in sanctification.
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19, KJV)
Belief in God is not sufficient to be saved.
THere’s a huge difference between Oneness Pentecostals, Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians, most Messianics… and devils.
Devils KNOW God is a Trinity, and those listed above deny it.
Devils have perfect theology! they KNOW, because they were THERE. They UNDERSTAND.
They just rebelled and cast away their first estate. They sinned.
THey cannot be born again.
Belief in God is not enough. Belief in the Trinity is not enough.
You must be born again. You must repent, call upon the name of the Lord, and be SAVED. There must be a spiritual rebirth. If you were born once, you will die twice. First physical death, then eternal suffering in the lake of fire.
If you are born twice, you will die once. Physical death alone -and for you, it will be temporary. You get your body back, and it will even be glorified!
Believe. Admit. confess. Repent.
Be born again. What have you got to lose?
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:14–18, KJV)
James 2:14(KJV) 2:14. Another shift in the argument of the epistle can be seen by James’ use of my brothers. He introduced this paragraph with a rhetorical question, What good is it… if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? The emphasis is not on the true nature of faith but on the false claim of faith. It is the spurious boast of faith that James condemned. Such “faith” does no “good”; there is no “profit” (ophelos, used in the NT only here and in v. 16; 1 Cor. 15:32). It is worthless because it is all talk with no walk. It is only a habitual empty boast (“claims” is in the pres. tense). Can such faith save him? A negative answer is anticipated in the Greek. Merely claiming to have faith is not enough. Genuine faith is evidenced by works.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary, John Walvoord.
David Cloud agrees with this interpretation in his “Things Hard to Be Understood.” This is a book every Christian should own. No kidding. He answers several trouble passages. I’d love to see a volume 2 to this book.
The people James is talking to are already saved. We’ve seen that. David Cloud points out Paul addresses Justification before God in Romans – James here addresses justification before man – how to show one’s salvation, not how to get it!.
There’s nothing here about keeping the law. Or about keeping the sabbath. Or about Baptism. Or about confession, mass, ritualistic prayers, etc.
I thought – since we’re on this point in James – I thought I’d address “Christian” flim-flam artists.
I’m sure my younger readers are unfamiliar with that term. Con artist is the phrase used today, but it’s imprecise in this situation.
Ever apply for a job with a Christian ministry? Guess what! They want you to work for free!
um… that’s not how it works. If you want a Christian radio station… guess what? you’re REQUIRED by the Bible to PAY the DJ’s. They’re performing a ministry. Demanding they volunteer for free to keep your radio station on the air is fleecing the flock.
“Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.” (Leviticus 19:13, KJV)
“Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates:” (Deuteronomy 24:14, KJV)
“For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?” (1 Corinthians 9:9, KJV)
Work for the church? If you choose to volunteer a ministry of your own volition, then it’s to the Lord. If the church sees you have a talent or a God-given ministry for something – you should be paid.
In God’s economy, it’s quite simple. They missed the blessing for not paying you. They do not get that blessing in heaven. No kidding, they get rewards for paying a Christian.
And it’s also very possible that the wages due you, with interest, just might be subtracted from their rewards in heaven!
If someone does a $65,000 a year job in your church, and you pay them 18,000, you might suddenly find on entering Heaven that God made the accounting right, and subtracted the difference from your rewards, to the tune of $$47,000 each year of service… with interest.
Hope you’ve accumulated treasure in heaven!
Many very wealthy people who (if they surprise me and end up in heaven) require their Christian workers to volunteer, may find themselves with zip for rewards, if my understanding of this is Biblical.
That means the volunteer who took time to serve a ministry for free, when they desperately needed that time to get a paying job, may end up wealthier in Heaven than the minister who snookered them into volunteering.
This is a serious pet peeve of mine. Nobody works for me – I can’t afford it. I’d love to hire someone for $30,000 a year to go through my blog, tag everything, and fix typo’s. But hey, I can’t afford it. Anyone want to volunteer? I won’t let you. You should be paid for something like that.
It’s not a sin to volunteer if you want to. But to open a job, and then tell people it’s volunteer only… is criminal, in my opinion. And certainly not Christian. “Freely you have received, freely give” does not apply here.
PAY YOUR MINISTRY WORKERS.
“My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (James 2:1–13, KJV)
BG chunk of Scripture today! Almost seems like one of my old articles! Yet, this verse is violated by many, many churches around the country. I’ve been to a church where the floor section (!) is roped off, and you have to be (essentially) wealthy to sit there.
There’s supposedly a story of a church that was waiting for the new pastor their denomination was sending to start at a new church. The pastor was late, and a homeless man, reeking of booze and needing a shave, came inside and started panhandling as they waited for the new pastor. The people in the church had many harsh words for the bum. Until he finally dropped the act, walked up behind the pulpit, and began to oreach from James.
It’s not a true story at all – pastors don’t just arrive at a church with never speaking there before. The congregation would recognize him. And it’s professional suicide to do something like that, because your first impression of your new pastor is a man reeking of whisky. It’s not good. I wish it was a true story, but it’s not.
Do not be partial. Do not judge the person with fine clothes as better than you. It’s hard, because the wealthy tithe, and the pastor is reluctant to kill that cash cow.
But the Bible is really clear on this. I cannot emphasize this enough… everyone in a church is of equal importance. The poor are no less important. It’s very distressing to me, because Christianity is overrun with scoundrels that prey on the poor.
Give to the poor.
James 2:1(KJV) 2:1. A transition to a new consideration is evident by James’ use of my brothers. By “brothers” he meant fellow believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. The niv has done well in showing that it is the faith in Christ, not the faith of Christ, that is here considered, and in taking the word “glorious” (doxēs) in apposition to, and therefore descriptive of, Christ. The key command is likewise clear: don’t show favoritism. God shows no favoritism (Rom. 2:11; Eph. 6:9; Col. 3:25); therefore neither should Christians. James condemned prejudice and preferential treatment.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary, John Walvoord
“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:21–27, KJV)
περισσείαν Perisseian does not mean someone from Paris, but rather, abundance, running over. The concept is that of pouring 4 gallons of water into a 1 gallon jar – hence the translation of “superfluidity”.
To have an abundance of filthiness and sin that runs over and out… this is what James asks us to put aside. There’s not an “If” anywhere in that sentence!
Lay aside the filth and sin, and receive the word of Scripture. The Scripture is able to save your soul. This is a restatement of the first verse.
We’ve had wherefore-therefore statements up till now, linking a number of topics together. And now, we get to…
Do the word, don’t just listen to it and go away thinking, “I can do what I want!”
Many people who call themselves Christians do that. If you’re a disciple of Jesus Christ, then you’re going to want to conform your life to the Bible. It’s unthinkable not to! Now, you’re going to stumble, and the cares of the world set in, and you’ll slip and fall, but get back on that horse!
Now, the Free Grace/Hypergrace movement (which is gaining ground today) tells us that the law of liberty has NO commandments, NO works. James just shot that down. “Whoso looketh into the law of liberty, and continuith therein… he being a doer of the word…”
There is commandments and laws enjoined upon the Christian! These do not save you – you are already saved… but things like prayer, tithe, mercy, charity, etc.
It even has negative commandments. Do not murder, do not commit adultery… 9 of the 10 commandments can be found repeated in the New Testament. The only one that is not is the Sabbath Day.
Anyone who is unsure, here’s your assignment… go through the entire New Testament, and write down everything that looks like it is a command. Hey, pick an EASY book like Ephesians and see how many commandments are in it!
Give to charity. Every Christian knows that one instinctively – it’s just that charity starts at home, and most Christians need it themselves!
Prayer. Everyone understood from the Bible they need to pray. Until these Hyper grace heretics rose up, it was understood by EVERYONE that thinks they’re a Christian!
Tithe. Everyone understands this, except greedy and rebellious people. I’ve several times been drawn into debates on this (well, they tried) and I firmly shut it down each time. The Lord, when discussing Tithe, said THESE THINGS OUGHT YE TO HAVE DONE, and not neglected the others.
Forgive one another. Love one another. Prefer one another.
You know, that perfect church everyone always looks for would be there if we all did these things!
“It is not sufficient, however, to receive the Word; one must respond to it in active obedience. The command is clear, Do not merely listen to the Word.… Do what it says. One must “become,” or “keep on becoming” (ginesthe), a doer of the Word and not just a hearer. The growing numbers of sermon-sippers who flit from one doctrinal dessert to another like helpless hummingbirds are deceiving themselves. “Deceiving” is from a verb used in the New Testament only here and in Colossians 2:4. Paralogizomai means “to cheat or deceive by false reasoning.” The deception comes from thinking they have done all that is necessary when actually listening to the Word is only the beginning. A fitting illustration of the “sit, soak, and sour” crowd follows.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary, John Walvoord