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Are we saved by faith alone? (Addressing the book of James 2)

 


Coming out with this article is a miracle because I have drafted several notes on my notepad. I felt in my spirit to write on this topic because Quora requested my response to this question, 

If good works are not required for salvation, why does the Bible say faith without works is dead in James 2:14?”

Observing the question, I felt it is important to the body of Christ Jesus. I knew the above biblical question must not go unanswered. Because of this, I want to write on this topic, Is faith without works dead?

In other words, are good deeds and works necessary as Christian believers, or do we (Christian believers) have to work for our salvation? I encourage you to read my series of articles. Is it true that once saved, always saved for more profound revelations.

In this article, I will do my best to explain the doctrine or concept of faith and works and how it affects our Christian life. In James 2, Apostle James, the brother of Jude and half-brother of Christ Jesus, emphasized the concept of faith and deeds to the dispersed Jewish Christian believers in his letters.

If you read the book of Galatians, you will realize that Apostle James was a follower of Apostle Paul. Although several debates took place before the council of Carthage included the book of James in the canon in A.D 397, we cannot exclude the inspired teachings of Apostle James.

Apostle James's style of writing is straight to the point. I love such writers. Let’s read from the letters of Apostle James on the doctrine of faith without works. From there, I will write or explain Apostle James's letters in detail.

 

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.

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

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 2:14-26 KJV

Apostle James begins with faith without works (deeds). Maybe I should briefly explain the meaning of faith and works for a better understanding. Faith simply means believing and acting on the Word of God as led by the Holy Spirit.

The source of faith is the Word of God (Holy Bible). Nothing in this world can produce a valid faith except the Word (Holy Bible). Although scientists and other researchers measure evidence by its relevance, competence, and tangibility, the Word of God exceeds these three critical criteria.

We often use life experience, research, facts, scientific discoveries, allusions, hypothetical situations, analogies, and several ways to confirm evidence; the Word of God is the greatest of all evidence because they will never pass away (Meditate on Matthew 24:35).

The Word of God is the greatest source of faith because creation began from it (Meditate on Hebrews 11:3). Nothing existed without the Word. The Word created the things of this world. Humans had the raw materials to produce products and services through the visible things the Word created.

Study the book of Hebrews chapter eleven or get my book, how to unlock the gate of faith for more profound revelations. Works are visible deeds produced by creation. For example, eating food to quench your hunger and drinking water is a tangible or visible deed. So, in James chapter two verses fourteen to sixteen, Apostle James emphasized that faith without works is profitless, useless, and unproductive.

 

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?

James 2:14-16 KJV

Remember, we have types and levels of faith. You can have faith in a miracle, faith in God, faith in yourself, and faith that leads to salvation. Apostle James made a profound statement in verse seventeen of the holy scriptures.

 

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

  James 2:17 KJV

James declared that faith without works (deeds) is dead. You cannot call yourself a Christian believer and deny the evidence of good deeds in your life because faith produces precious fruits (virtues). If you are truly saved by faith, you will be interested in the kingdom's work.

 

This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

Titus 3:8 KJV

Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

1 Thessalonians  1:3 KJV

Why do you think some Christian believers declared they were saved by faith, yet Christ Jesus denied them on judgment day?

 

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Matthew 7:21-23 KJV

These Christians claimed to be saved by faith, but Christ Jesus denied them because they worked iniquity. Some Christians think they are saved by faith, so they don’t walk in the steps of Christ Jesus.

If you are saved by faith, exhibit the seed of Christ Jesus. The seed of faith is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (See Galatians 5:22-23). Your character is evidence that you are saved by faith. If you have faith, you have Christ Jesus living in you in the person of the Holy Spirit.

If you are saved by faith, you will reveal the nature of Christ Jesus in your daily vicissitudes of life. The fruit of love, peace, temperance, patience, joy, gentleness, meekness, longsuffering, and all other seeds of the Holy Spirit will manifest in your life if you are saved by faith.

The fact that you are saved by faith means you walk in the knowledge of Christ Jesus because Christ Jesus is the complete expression of faith. Faith that saves or saving faith will not contradict the nature of Christ Jesus.

God and humankind can justify your good deeds or works. We produce good works so that humankind and some spiritual forces will believe we are saved. We produce good works because it is part of our new nature in Christ Jesus. If you read the letters of Apostle Paul in Ephesians chapter two verses eight and nine, Paul writes that we are saved by faith.

 

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV

These holy scriptures may look contradictory to the letters of Apostle James (James 2:17), but it isn’t. Apostle Paul was addressing the salvation of the human spirit. We cannot save our spirit; it takes the Holy Spirit to save our spirit.

It is our responsibility to work out our salvation as we submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit (See Philippians 2:12-13). Why do you think Christ Jesus denied and accepted some Christian believers on judgment day?

 

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Matthew 25:31-46 KJV

If you read the above holy scriptures, you will realize that there were two Christian believers. Christ Jesus denied the Christians that professed faith in Him but did not produce good works.

In other words, these Christian believers had dead faith. Their character and deeds did not show that they were saved by faith. They did not exhibit the life of Christ Jesus, so Christ denied them. Instead of these Christians showing authentic love to others, they lived in hypocrisy.

The other Christian believers received divine inheritance because their faith was alive. They exhibited good works (deeds). Child of God, it is not enough to declare that you are saved by faith.

We must see the fruits of the Holy Spirit in you. The Holy Spirit saved your spirit because you couldn’t save yourself. That’s grace (Meditate on Ephesians 2:8-9). You have to produce good works (deeds) to reveal your faith in Christ Jesus.

Matthew Henry wrote, “Faith is the root, good works are the fruits, and we must see to it that we have both.” We produce good works because it is the working of the Holy Spirit in us. We show the character of Christ Jesus because it is a seed in us.

 

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

1 John 3:9 KJV

We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

1 John 5:18 KJV

We produce good works because the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ works in us. Child of God, faith alone without good works (deeds) is an error. The mark that you are saved by faith is that the works and seeds of the Holy Spirit will express themselves in you.

You don’t have to struggle to produce good works if you are saved by Christ Jesus (faith). You do not struggle to live the Christian life if you are saved by faith because the saving faith produces grace to guide you in your Christian life.

The grace grows when you build your soul and spirit with the Word (Holy Bible). Saving faith will always produce divine love.

 

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Galatians 5:6 KJV

If you are saved by faith, you will not struggle to express genuine love to others because the Holy Spirit lives in you. Your faith produces good works so that men will believe in your salvation and praise the living God (Christ Jesus).

Although men believing in your salvation is not needed much, your assurance in Christ Jesus is the ultimate. If you read the entire holy text of Apostle James (See James 2:19), he explained that demons have faith in God, yet they tremble.

The faith of these demons does not correspond with their love and reverence for God. That is, these demons do not have faith in God because they love or reverence Him. Their faith in God leads to fear because of their willful and Constance disobedience towards God’s Word and hatred toward God’s creation.

Have you realized that sometimes you feel fearful when you see someone? That fear has a reason. That fear may emanate from your secret sin, love, or hatred for the person. The demons believe that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, but their hatred, disobedience, and evil deeds make them fearful when the Holy Spirit assesses their faith (Meditate on Mark 1:23-24).

That is how some Christians profess their faith. They have faith in their mind, not in their hearts! Some people believe that Christ Jesus is all-powerful. They may even believe that Christ Jesus saves, but their hardened heart and sin make them fearful anytime they hear Christ Jesus's name and teachings.

Child of God, it is not a matter of just believing, trusting, or having faith in God that brings salvation. It is the condition of your heart, obedience, and absolute faith in Christ Jesus and the Word that guarantees your salvation.

You may believe that Christ Jesus has saved you. Your heart can condemn you if you walk outside Christ Jesus' footsteps. True faith in Christ Jesus has a clear conscience. The faith that brings salvation teaches all men that we should abstain from wickedness, willful sin and live in holiness and righteousness of Christ Jesus.

 

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

Titus 2:11-12 KJV

In verses thirteen and fourteen of Titus chapter two, Apostle Paul concludes.

 

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Titus 2:13-14 KJV

Christ Jesus gave himself for us so we can produce good works, not evil works (deeds). Child of God, it is not enough to declare that you are saved by faith alone. The faith that brings salvation leads to good works and deeds.

Apostle James used Abraham and Rahab as examples to explain the concept of faith and works and how it validates our salvation. Abraham proved his faith in God by offering his son Isaac. Rahab proved her faith by risking her life to save the spies.

Despite our weakness, we walk with the Lord, believe His Word, and follow His Word because our faith in Him teaches us to exhibit the principles of the Holy Bible. Apostle James concluded the letters in this way.

 

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

James 2:26 KJV

Like heat, you will not experience it when no energy is produced. Until God breathed life into the body of Adam, he remained useless. Until the Holy Spirit planted the incorruptible seed in virgin Mary, Christ Jesus couldn’t fulfill the prophecy. That is how faith and works exchanges energy.

  • Your good works (deeds) show that you are genuinely saved by Christ Jesus.
  • Your good works (deeds) show that your faith is alive.
  • Your good works (deeds) show that you are born again.
  • Your good works (deeds) show that the Holy Spirit lives in you.
  • Your good works (deeds) show that the grace of our Saviour and Lord Jesus is working.
  • Your good works (deeds) show that you are alive in the Spirit.
  • Your good works (deeds) show you don’t have a demonic faith.
  • Your good works (deeds) show that you don’t have dead faith.
  • Your good works prove that Christ Jesus is walking and working with you.

Remember, you don’t produce good works or exhibit the life of Christ Jesus on earth without the help of the Holy Spirit. It is the working of the Holy Spirit expanding the grace in your life so that people will glorify Christ Jesus.

You produce good works because that is your nature in Christ Jesus. The only time your faith fails to produce good works and holy actions is when you have dead faith. The saving faith has evidence because it produces the works (virtues and deeds) of the Holy Spirit, and these works are seen in the born-again Christian believer.




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