Saving Faith According to James

Galatians 2:15-16

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

Romans 3:28

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

James 2:18-24

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe -and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” -and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

When we read these passages side by side they seem to offer conflicting views on how we are justified (i.e. forgiven and accepted by God; considered members of God’s people in good-standing). Paul in the books of Galatians and Romans seems to make it clear that we are accepted by God because of our faith alone, apart from anything we do. But James says with equal clarity that we are “justified by works and not by faith alone.” Knowing whether we are right with God or not, is a very important bit of information to have. So this is something we must wrestle with until we understand what James and Paul are trying to tell us.
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