James 2 – The true context…

One must keep James in context. It may very well be that a Christian can be a Christian without any works, but James is asking something more specific than that.  James is asking for proof.   He is stating that it is not by verbally stating ones faith that justifies (as he accuses the demons of doing) but by showing people faith through works that justifies.  He is basically stating – “prove it”“prove you are saved”.  He then gives the prescription for proof through stating “Show Me”.  The only method by which one can prove faith is through works not by words alone.  He makes his point clear when he states:

“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” :

There is an inconsistency between what a person is saying and what he or she is doing.  They are stating “Be warned and filled” and they are not doing the acts necessary to make the brother warm and filled.  Applying this to salvation, he talks about the fact that the demons believe and tremble but they are not saved.  This address those people who have accepted a theological belief in “One God”.  Good for them, but this alone is not enough to secure salvation and he states that saving faith can be proven (or shown) by works.  Another example given is Rahab:

“Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?”

What we see in this example is that Rahab’s faith is what helped her receive the message (she was accurately hearing the voice of God), others become aware of her faith when she took action on that faith (works in action) and sent the messengers out the other way.

There are many examples of the people of God living in a low spot in life (I believe these low spots were put in the Bible to encourage us in our lows), but James is specifically stating that there is no method by which you can justify ones words “I am a Christian ” without an outward appearance of these things – works. It is certainly possible that one can be a Christian without justification, but one should not expect that others will be convinced of that. Focus on James’ context.  It’s not to prove that one needs works to be saved nor is it that a Christian can be saved without works, but a Christian cannot “show” their verbal expression of faith without doing something.

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