James 2:26 “Faith Without Works Is Dead ALSO”

Jas 2:24  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Jas 2:25  Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

Jas 2:26  For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

To understand James 2:26, one must understand and appreciate the perfect justice and gracious mercy of God our Father and what He calls “the law of faith,” and that how He has graciously dealt with all mankind whether Jew or Gentile by the same way He has always dealt with His creation, by faith and faith alone, without any works at all for salvation from the debt and penalty from the body of sin, and justification unto eternal life in the sight of God. But the proper understanding of this vital truth is often times misunderstood, and the understanding of many is that Israel’s justification unto eternal life, and their salvation from the debt and penalty of sin against them, rests upon them having faith plus works, but this is not what James 2:26 is saying at all. This understanding in most part comes from those reading the above verses without understanding the basic foundation of how God has ALWAYS justified the man unto eternal life by faith alone throughout time, and one could easily assume that “a man” is justified unto eternal life by works, “and not by faith only,” and when some would point to these verses I would say, “well, James is not written to the Gentiles in this dispensation of grace.” And yet while this is completely true, I didn’t understand the basic fundamentals of Israel’s justification unto eternal life at all.

Rom 3:21  But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 

Rom 3:22  Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

Rom 3:23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Rom 3:24  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Rom 3:25  Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Rom 3:26  To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Rom 3:27  Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

Rom 3:28  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Rom 3:29  Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:

Rom 3:30  Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

Romans 3:21-29 in particular shows how that “the righteousness of God” unto eternal life is by faith alone, and when Paul says “but now” in verse 3:21; he is not saying that the righteousness of God was always by the law “but now” it is by faith alone in Christ. Paul is confirming that it has always been by faith! In “times past,” a justified Israelite would live his sanctified life WITH THE LAW, “but now” after the death of Christ; the righteousness of God WITHOUT THE LAW is manifested to those in Christ, today, the man in Christ, does not live his justified life WITH THE LAW for sanctification unto holiness as in “times past” before Christ’s death. Paul says the “righteousness of God” is by faith of Jesus Christ, this is what was manifested “now,” and before Jesus Christ came into the world, the “law and the Prophets” wrote that the “righteousness of God” would come by faith ALONE in the Redeemer, and sanctification unto holiness would come by the “deeds of the law,” remember; in verse 28, Paul just said that justification unto eternal life by faith alone will never come by the deeds of the law. The justice of God has always ONLY responded to faith and faith alone to justify the man unto eternal life, and in verse 28 when Paul says that “a man” is justified “by faith without the deeds of the law,” this means any “man” whether Jew in time past, or Gentile today, is justified the same way in the sight of God. The Apostle Paul makes this clear when explains what the justified “man” today has, and that they too have the same gracious salvation, and justification that Israel also possessed. And it should be obvious to anyone that God is “the God of the Jews” by what Paul declares here, just as He is ALSO the God of the Gentiles, and as being the God of both Jew and Gentile Paul says that “the law of faith” works the same for both, and it would have to be ‘two God’s’ if our justification unto eternal life, and salvation from the debt and penalty of sin differed from the other.

Jas 1:18  Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Jas 1:19  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

Jas 1:20  For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

Jas 1:21  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

Jas 1:22  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

Jas 1:23  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:

Jas 1:24  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

Jas 1:25  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.

James refers to the ones he is writing to as ‘begotten,’ and that they too possess the same justified standing that James has in the sight of God. James exhorts the “beloved brethren” to exercise their sanctification as being called upon to be what God intended for them to be; a holy nation and a kingdom of priests. Oftentimes we ourselves in this present dispensation of grace can come across some that will say that we can lose our salvation, they point to verses that have nothing to do with the justification of our souls unto eternal life, they mention verses that deal with sanctification and the way the saint is to walk to bring honor and glory unto holiness in the sight of the Lord. This is also the case with the justification of Israel, it seems as some take Israel’s sanctification doctrine as being a justification issue, when the doctrine of their salvation from the debt and penalty of their sins, and their justification unto eternal life was a settled issue revealed earlier in scripture, just as when you come across Romans through Philemon; the Apostle Paul is writing to the saints, just as James is also writing to the justified brethren of Israel. In understanding the “perfect law of liberty,” one has to understand the “liberty” that the Israelite saint has in the sight of God. And that this “law of liberty” deals with sanctification unto holiness ONLY.

Gal 5:13  For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Gal 5:14  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Gal 5:15  But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

Gal 5:16  This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

James exhorts the saints to be a “doer of the work,” that is the work that he is called upon by God to “do” as those Israelite saints who ought to be a holy nation, and a kingdom of Priests. And today, we ourselves as saints in Christ, are not to misuse our liberty as an “occasion” to serve our flesh, but God, just the same way Israel is being educated here in the book of James. And just as we have been “called unto liberty,” Israel also has been called unto liberty by God, but they are called to be a holy nation of priests, who have two DIFFERENT TYPES of justifications that go along with their sanctification. But this type of justification IS NOT DEALING WITH JUSTIFICATION UNTO ETERNAL LIFE, but it has to do with Israel’s sanctification unto holiness in the sight of God. Israel’s walk will have a big impact on the Gentile nations in that day, and when the nations see Israel as a nation, they are to see the representatives of the “Most High God.” Israel will need to justify themselves in the sight of man; in other words, the effectual working of God’s word will be shown through His holy nation for the world to see. Israel also has a another type of justification that goes along with their sanctification: and that is to justify themselves in the sight of God as a “friend of God.” Furthermore, just as Abraham also justified himself in the sight of God 30 years AFTER he became justified unto eternal life, these saints will also be called upon to “shew” their faith by their works too. This justification has nothing to do with their justification unto eternal life, that is a settled issue with God, Abraham was justified unto eternal life 30 years earlier, but Abraham’s faith in what God told him had Abraham to trust what God said, and when Abraham by works placed his son upon the altar, he justified himself in the sight of God; not as justified unto eternal life, that was settled 30 years prior, but as “a friend of God.”

Jas 2:14  What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

Jas 2:15  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

Jas 2:16  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?

Jas 2:17  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Jas 2:18  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.

Jas 2:19  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Jas 2:20  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

Jas 2:21  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

Jas 2:22  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

Jas 2:23  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.

Jas 2:24  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Having ‘just’ justification unto eternal life was not all that God wanted Israel to have, He also wanted them to be faithful enough to be a “first fruit of His righteousness”, just as Abraham was in his day. In that day of tribulation (which is what this doctrine is designed for), Israel in the face of all tribulation and persecution, are to act as if that kingdom is already established, and they are to show themselves to be who God has made them to be; ‘a friend of God’ in the sight of God, and in the sight of the nations in that day. The Gentile world and Satan would see that nation as being holy and “just” being a holy nation, and a kingdom of Priests. These two types of justifications compliment the first justification, and the first type of justification for EVERY person “IN ADAM” throughout time has always dealt with the justification unto eternal life by faith in the Redeemer alone throughout time to save them from the wrath of God against them.

Eph 4:11  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Eph 4:12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Eph 4:13  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Even though the doctrine of our sanctification, and our vocation differs from Israel’s sanctification unto holiness, and their vocation, we both have a “perfecting” that we are to “grow up into,” God would have us to grow up “unto a perfect man” by the “knowledge” of who God has made us to be “in Christ,” and Israel using the “perfect law of liberty” in their walk would not only justify themselves in the sight of God as a friend of God, but to also justify themselves in the sight of the world as a holy nation of priests of the Most High God.

Mat 19:28  And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Mat 19:29  And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

Mat 19:30  But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

Finally there will be some in that day who will not justify themselves in the sight of God as a friend of God and in the sight of men, but they will trust the gospel of their salvation from the debt and penalty of the body of sin against them, and their justification unto eternal life. And their works like ‘forsaking’ everything and trusting what God said justifies them as a “friend of God” apart from the ‘belief’ that they had in the gospel of their salvation and justification. Those SAINTS will be counted as the “last” in the kingdom because of their ‘lack of works, or deeds.’ But we have to remember, that Israel had the same issue that we have today; they were born sinners, in need of a Savior, and when they placed their faith in what “ALL THE PROPHETS” said about redemption from the debt and penalty of sin against them; (which they ALL prophesied about faith alone in the Redeemer alone to justify them unto eternal life) they became justified unto eternal life by faith alone by ‘believing on’ The Christ.

Joh 6:46  Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.

Joh 6:47  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

Rod Jones

  1. Fantastic brother Rod! Thank-you!

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