Monday, May 07, 2007

Can Faith Without Works Save You?

UPDATE: For a full examination of James 2 please see my latest on the subject called "James 2 From The Text."

James 2:14 is an often misunderstood and more often abused verse. I've looked at James 2 before in a post called "Faith and Works", and to be honest I missed the boat. I had some things correct, but I missed the actual "point" of the Chapter. Thanks to Danny for pointing me in the right direction!

I think I went wrong because I was so focused on the area I was concerned about that I didn't even consider that my division of the chapter into two teachings might be wrong. As it turns out the whole chapter is one single teaching.

Here's the whole of James 2 for you to read.

And this is the structure I'm using to study it myself.

James 2:14 is talking about the Believer being saved from loss of reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Believers will receive reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ dependent on how our works stand up to the test of fire. Did we do them in our strength, for our glory or in His for His Glory? Verse 14 is asking what the profit is for faith without works, if we have shown no mercy then we'll suffer loss - and faith wont' save us from that loss.

James 2:1-7 shows the behavior being dealt with.

James 2:8-11 talks about what it's like to be under the Royal Law (Mosaic Law - typified by the Ten Commandments)

James 2:12-14 is about the Law of Liberty - by which we will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ. James uses how judgment works under the Royal Law to explain how judgment will work under the Law of Liberty (Law of Christ - Love God, Love Each other & Law of the Spirit - promptings of the Spirit).

Then James 2:15-26 shows us how this plays out - it's the application message.. or the demonstrations of it.

Of course God's will is that we be conformed to the image of Christ so we are worked by the Holy Spirit (Heb 12) to "perfect" our faith through trials and works

For more info on the Judgment Seat of Christ judgment check this post.


jazzycat said...

I diagree. I believe James 2:14 is talking about someone claiming to have faith but not really having saving faith. He is talking the talk, but not walking the walk. He is a hypocrit. True faith will result in a changed heart that will result in works. Works do not save or justify, but are the result of true faith. That is why James asks the rhetorical question, "Can such a faith save him." The obvious answer is of course no.

Danny is a free grace advocate that believes in the carnal Christian concept that holds that a person can express a simple faith in a moment in time and the next day express unbelief and continue that way for the rest of a long life and still be saved. Such a person does not lose his salvation because he never had it to begin with. That is what James is warning in 2:14. Check out 1 John 2:19.


Kevl said...


I think you're perspective will change if you focus on the right Person. You can't look for validation of Christ's work in someone who didn't deserve what Christ did for Him. That is what Grace means, unmerited or undeserved favor.

If you focus on the Promise Giver, and the Promise then you can see how His Word stands no matter what we do.

Eternal Security is seen throughout Scripture. Also, if 2:14 is speaking about Eternal Salvation then at least a couple of tenants of the Faith are broken. Read the whole book of James and see what the Holy Spirit was guiding James to say - not just part of it to see what some preacher or man is trying to say.

jazzycat said...

Thanks. I do not wish to get in a long debate as I have been there with the FG'ers before. Single clear verses are fine with them when it appears to suit their theology, however, when it doesn't as James 2:14 doesn't, then the answer is always to jump through hoops to make it fit.... Go to Chapter 5, go here, go there....

I just finished a photo devotional on Roman's 8 and I would ask you if think this chapter leaves any wiggle room for the carnal Christian concept?

BTW, I challenged the FG people last summer to show me any example in my writings where I advocate anything other than justification by faith alone. They have produced plenty of accusations, but no examples and I have written over 100 photo meditations on my blog.

I do not want to stir up a debate or fight with you. I did not think you were too deep into their false teaching and that is why I offered another opinion. If I can be of help let me know.

Kevl said...

Hi Jazzycat,

I haven't read any of your writing so I can't comment on it just yet.

I'm not sure what YOU mean by "carnal christian concept". What I mean by that is, Eternal Security is Truth, but the ideas that come along with "once saved always saved" are not - though it is a fact that once someone is saved they are always saved.

Romans 8 is the victory experienced in your own walk. It's the freedom that happens after surrender at the end of the Romans 7 experience. Romans 8 is not a requirement it's a state of being.

Reading scripture in isolation, or what is called "proof-texting" will ALWAYS, without fail, lead you in the wrong direction.


Kevl said...

People minimize the Judgment Seat of Christ whey they minimize loss of reward. This IS the Judgment Christians will face. It is a fearful thing. Paul talks of being saved, but as through fire!