Okay, before you freak out, know that I’m just reiterating what James 2:14-26 makes crystal clear…faith without works can’t save us. This passage makes some bold and seemingly heretical assertions like: “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.”
I’ve had these verses thrown into my face for years by Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses and works-based “Christians”. Inevitably they will say “well what about James 2?” And, when you think about it, this passage can be very difficult to reconcile with the vast majority of passages that make it clear that we are saved by faith alone and not good works.
At first and second and third glance it looks like the teachings of St. James and the teachings of St. Paul are diametrically opposed. As a matter of fact the great reformer Martin Luther (not the black preacher but the German monk) offered a free Doctor’s cap to anyone who could reconcile their teachings. They seem contradictory.
To be honest the vast majority of commentaries I have read on this passage are not much help. They all have the same mantra… “here’s what saving faith looks like….blah, blah, blah.” But James is not talking about what saving faith looks like…he’s talking about what saves. His conclusion? Faith PLUS works is what saves us.
Hence the conundrum.
But with the help of the Holy Spirit and my good friend Jonathan Smith I think that we have been able to crack the code of James 2. And what I see on the inside is something beautiful. What I see is something that should inspire Christians everywhere.
I really want you to take some time and watch this podcast where I take the James 2 challenge head on. I preached it just two days ago to our Dare 2 Share staff. For many of them it helped explain this passage in a way that, didn’t just reconcile Paul and James, but helped them realize how practical and life changing this passage is to our everyday lives.
Please watch it and let me know what you think of the way we interpreted and applied this powerful (not problem) passage.