James 2:24

In this study on James chapter 2, we have been comparing works done under law with works done under grace. Understanding this distinction is essential if we are to reconcile Paul, the preacher of grace, with James, who said this…

You see then that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. (Jas 2:24)

In Part 1 of this study we saw how a preacher of works could misuse this verse to drive people back under law. In Part 2 we learned that James and Paul (in Romans 4) were probably both writing in response to something that Jesus had said about the “works of Abraham.” What were these works? Abraham believed and was fully persuaded that God would deliver on His promises, even when reality said otherwise.

A few points to clarify before we press on:

  • James quotes Genesis 15:6 when he says that “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him with righteousness” (2:23). What works are listed in connection with Genesis 15:6? Only one: Abraham believed God.
  • James, like Paul in Romans 4:3, says that Abraham was counted righteous when he believed and before he was circumcised and before he had tried to sacrifice Isaac.

Now we are ready to study the four most “difficult” verses in James 2:which is it?

21. Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
22. You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.
23. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend.
24. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.”

The key verse in this sequence is verse 23. Remove this verse and you have a text to support a grace-killing theology of works. (And if you preach works, you’d better put human sacrifice on your to-do list – see verse 21.) But verse 23 cannot be removed! Verse 23 says that Abraham was counted righteous when he believed and before he offered Isaac on the altar. Verse 23 is where James says, “I’m with Paul on this matter of righteousness.”

So why does James confuse us by mentioning the thing Abraham did later at the altar? Why not just say, “Abraham was credited righteous when he believed?” The reason has to do with his audience. Which was who?

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. (Jas 1:1)

James was writing to Jews. Why is this significant? Because being Jews, they already knew that Abraham was credited righteous when he believed – they were Jewish! They knew the Torah inside and out. So why did they need to be reminded? It’s my conviction that James was writing to address an epidemic of unbelief.

The dynamic duo: Paul and James?!

The traditional view is that Paul wrote about faith and James wrote about works. It’s up to us to balance their teachings and to find a middle ground. Only you can’t put faith in both grace and works. What man calls balance, God calls mixture. There is no middle ground – you’re either resting in faith or you’re engaged in dead works. Anything not done in faith is sin (Rms 14:23). No, the issue is not faith versus works, but faith versus unbelief.

In the beginning of his letter James talks about the testing and proving of your faith. He’s asking, how’s your faith? or are you expressing your God-given faith? God gives us faith for a reason – that we might reveal Him and His will on our planet. When believers step out in faith, heaven comes down. When they don’t, nothing changes. Faith that takes no risks is dead.

What are we supposed to do with our faith? Well, for starters, James says we can ask for things:

1:6 Let him ask in faith…

4:2 You do not have because you do not ask.

The number one reason why prayers aren’t answered is because prayers aren’t asked. God loves us and wants to reveal Himself to us, but He waits to be asked. When should we ask?

5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.

You would think that is obvious, but it’s not. Many suffer in silence. Many just sit there and take it thinking that it is God’s will for them to suffer. James is saying, have a little faith in God! Here’s my paraphrase of James 2:14:

What does it profit, my brothers, if someone says he is fully persuaded regarding God’s promises but then does nothing about them, never steps out, never takes a risk? Can such ‘faith’ make any difference in his life? Can it sozo (save, heal or deliver) him?

James makes it clear in this verse that he is talking about more than who’s saved and who’s not. Throughout his letter he lists things we can ask God for, including healing, deliverance, wisdom, indeed, every good and perfect gift which comes from the Father. Why ask?  So that we might be His firstfruits, His trophies of grace, His living testimonies of transforming power (Jas 1:18).

Whose glasses are you wearing?

A performance-oriented believer will come away from James with a list of things to do for God. But one who is standing firm on grace will come away inspired to pursue God and to prove His will through prayer:

5:16-17 The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain… (NIV)

I live in one of the rainiest cities on earth. It seems every Sunday during winter it’s pouring with rain when it’s time to go to church. Yet we never get wet. Why not? Because my 5 year old daughter knows how to rise up in her God-given authority and rebuke the rain. She doesn’t ask God to take the rain away; she just commands the rain to stop and it does. She is fully persuaded that Christ in her has authority over the rain and that it’s not His will for us to get soaked right before church.

Two preachers, one message

I’ve said that Paul and James were on the same page regarding grace. How do I know? Because James says things like “we’re righteous” and “Elijah was a man just like us.” To the Jews, this would’ve been scandalous! How could James compare us to Elijah? Maybe if we dedicated our lives to serving God, maybe one day, if we were really good, we could become like Elijah. But no, James says the great prophet Elijah is like us. We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. If you thought the prayers of Elijah were powerful, how powerful do you think our prayers will be seeing we are clothed with Christ’s righteousness? Be encouraged – your prayers avail much!

So why aren’t we seeing more miracles? Because we’re not praying for things! We’re not asking! Our faith is locked up inside, reduced to a mere set of beliefs about what God can do, not what He wants to do right now. We dither over questions like “does God allow sickness?” or “is it God’s timing to heal this person?” It’s funny, but Jesus never seemed to be uncertain about these things.

By the way, is James saying that the more we pray, the more likely our prayers will be heard? Does God reward our praying effort? He does not. Jesus told us not to pray like those who think they will be heard “because of their many words” (Mt 6:7). No, James is saying we should pray as a people who are fully persuaded regarding God’s will. When you are fully persuaded your prayers will be bold and effective.

Unbelieving believers

I know you will find this hard to believe, but I have heard of Christians who claim to have faith, but they don’t heal the sick. “Now listen,” as James would say, if you are fully persuaded that God heals the sick, then act on that persuasion and start healing the sick!

5:14: Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray…

What so special about the elders? Well hopefully they will be fully persuaded that God wants to heal you! Elders lead by example. I led a church in Hong Kong for 10 years. When sick people walked in I would offer to pray for them like this: “I’m not praying because I’m supposed to pray. I’m praying because I fully expect you’re going to get healed right now.” The person I was praying for might not have been fully persuaded that God heals, but I was, and people got healed – not all of them, but certainly more than would’ve been healed if no one had prayed. That reminds me of something Bill Johnson often says:

I learned a long time ago that more people are healed when you pray for more people!

Some people are not entirely sure that God still heals the sick. They’re in two minds about this healing business. They are not fully persuaded. When they pray people don’t get healed and their doubt becomes self-fulfilling. James writes about this:

Let him ask in faith, with no doubting for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (Jas 1:6-8)

What limits our faith? Unbelief, or to use James’ words, doubt and uncertainty. To the degree that you are uncertain about God’s will, to that degree you are handicapped by unbelief. The devil wants you uncertain, but God wants you to be sure about His good will (Rms 12:2). If you’re not sure, then James says, “Pray, ask God for wisdom – and ask confidently! – receive what God gives you, then act on it.”

Finally, James 2:24…

The essence of James 2:24 is this: a believer isn’t one who merely believes God in his heart, he reveals God through his actions. The difference between you and your unsaved neighbor is not just a set of beliefs, it is the life of Christ in you and revealed through you. You not only think differently, you act differently and what you do flows from what you believe. If you don’t believe God heals the sick, you won’t pray for the sick and they won’t get healed. You are no different from your unbelieving neighbor in this regard. But if you do believe that Jesus provided for our healing 2000 years ago (1 Pet 2:24), then you will pray for the sick and you will heal them.

To the church James is saying, don’t just believe God, reveal Him! Speak to your mountain, heal the sick, drive out demons, raise the dead! If you are fully persuaded, that God can heal the sick, but you don’t pray for the sick – something is wrong. Your faith is not being expressed. It’s lifeless, powerless and incomplete. It’s like a fig tree that never bears fruit. If you are fully persuaded that God will do what He promised, then act on it and receive your miracle. Why wait? Abraham didn’t linger. He got up early the next morning and marched off fully persuaded that God would raise the dead.

We haven’t been called to do works for God, but to do the works of God. The work of God is to believe in Jesus (Jn 6:29). He who believes Jesus saves will be saved and will save others. He who believes Jesus heals will be healed and will heal others. If you are fully persuaded that Jesus is our wisdom from God – that He is our righteousness, our holiness, our redemption, and our victory – it will be evident in how you live.

Faith resides in the heart, but the fruit of faith can be seen. Abraham was credited righteous when he believed in Genesis 15, but his faith was seen when he offered Isaac on the altar in Genesis 22. His faith was made complete or consummated by what he did. Again, this is not a challenge to get busy for Jesus, but to abide in Him. You can bear no fruit by yourself. Only God can do the work of God. Our role is to rest in Him, trust Him, and reveal Him. When we do that His kingdom comes, the blind see, the lame leap, and the dead rise. Sometimes it even stops raining.

So far in this study we have been looking at the faith of righteous Abraham. In Part 4 we will look at the faith of unrighteous Rahab.

32 Comments on James 2:24

  1. You say James was writing to Jews. I respectfully suggest that you are wrong. He was writing to converted Jews that is those who obeyed the “perfect law of liberty” being those that hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ (2:1).

    Faith without works is a dead faith (2:20). James is pointing out the works of both Abraham of the Patriarchal dispensation and Rahab a gentile that if they did not perform they would have been lost because of disobedience.

    The works prohibited are those required under the Law of Moses of which the recipients of James’ letter were all too familiar with being ex Jews. It is those works which are no longer valid as this law has been abolished by nailing it to the cross (Col.2:14; Eph.2:15). That law is superseded by the law of Christ (Gal.3:23-25, 6:2, I Cor.9:21; Jam.1:25). This law contains works one of which Jesus said is the very concept of faith according to John 6:29 “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent”.

    • Dear Graham, thanks for your comment.

      1. I didn’t say James was writing to the Jews – James said it (1:1). Of course his letter would’ve been circulated among the NT churches and hence widely ready by Jewish Christians. But his audience also includes Jewish non-believers. Like all the NT writers, James wrote for both the saved and the unsaved. I develop this important point further in Part 4.

      2. I’m not sure where you disagree with me on other matters, or which works you believe Abraham needed to do (other than believe) to be counted righteous. Surely you weren’t referring to human sacrifice (which is the only other “work” James mentions)? Or maybe you were referring to sacrifice and circumcision as both pre-date the Law of Moses?

      3. Yes, God does write His royal law of love on our hearts (Jn 13:34). And it is God who helps us keep that command. These laws do not lead us to Christ – Gal 3 is referring to old covenant law. In contrast with the laws of Moses, the law of Christ seen in us is the result of being accepted by Him, and not something we do to earn His acceptance.

      4. What is the “perfect law of liberty” that James refers to (1:25)? The context is the “word which can save you” (1:21). Some say it is referring to God’s Word – I agree, if we’re talking about Jesus the Living Word. The Bible can’t save you, but Jesus can – if you do what He says (“repent and believe”). Why say Jesus is the “perfect law”? Because He is the only one who fulfilled all the righteous requirements of the law. He did it so that we don’t have to, so that we might be set free from its demands. Hence, the “perfect law of liberty” describes what Jesus has done (He perfectly fulfilled the law) and what fruit it will bear in our lives (liberty!) if we trust Him. If we don’t trust Him, we will continue to strive to earn our acceptance and remain slaves to the law of sin and death (Rms 8:2). Sadly, many Christians are still living under the condemning idea that says they must perform for Jesus or be cast aside. This is 100% pure, Old Covenant law dressed up with respectable words like “responsibility” and “obedience.” Such folk -I used to be one – have not fully grasped the revelation that the same grace that saved them, keeps them. Jesus truly is the Author and Finisher of our faith.

  2. Hi Paul,
    Abraham was being tested by God according to Gen.22:1 to take Isaac and “offer him there as a burn offering”. An extreme test of faith in God. If he had refused to act on this test he would not have been fit as a man of faith. The “brethren” in the letter from James are being exhorted to “speak and act” (2:12) in the same manner as Abraham and Rahab spoke and acted upon the laws relevant to them at the time.

    Jesus is the word (Jn.1:1)henceforth the word saves as they are one and the same. The word is the “law of Christ” (I Cor.9:21; Gal.6:2). Without law there can be no sin (Rm.5:13)but as all have sinned (Rm.3:23) there must be a law, not the old law of Moses but the “perfect law of liberty” and as sin is defined by John as “lawlessness” (I John 3:4) it goes without saying we are under a law today. That is to say, not the law applicable to the generations before Moses and not to the law applicable to the the nation of Hebrews.
    This perfect law(complete or fulfilled) we are under liberates as apposed to bondage which is the point that Paul is addressing in Galatians 3 and 4 and that which the converted Jews and non converted alike needed to understand.

    Law has requirements that involves obedience. The very letter you are addressing says to obey this law of liberty for James says, “So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty” (2:12). One cannot expect Christ to judge subjectively for that is partiality of which Peter said God is not (Acts 10:34). No, the judgement will be whether one has kept the word of Christ i.e., the New Testament (John 12:48)from Acts 2 onward. In fact the whole point of James 2:14-26 is to remind these Christians i.e., “brethren” that faith in Christ obligates one to be involved in works relative to the perfect law of liberty, so “speak and act” says James. For it is apparent from that which is said in the letter that they were not doing such as showing partiality, factions, gossiping etc.

    Thanks for letting me comment, I appreciate it.

    • Hi Graham
      You’re welcome. You say “there must be a law,” that “law has requirements that involve obedience,” and “that faith in Christ obligates one to be involved in works.” You make plain your view plain that “we are under a law today.” I respectfully, and strenuously, disagree.

      Romans 6:14 “…you are not under law but under grace.” You cannot be under a little bit of law and a little bit of grace. It’s one or the other. The idea that we are obligated to do most everything written in the New Testament cheapens the grace of God and diminishes the significance of the cross. Jesus didn’t take the punishment that was ours merely so we could swap one law code for another. He didn’t die to give us a second chance, but a new life.

      Those who put their trust in works set aside the grace of God which can never be earned. We will not be judged on the basis of whether we have kept the “New Testament law.” In Christ, I have been judged already. My sin has been fully paid for (thank God for His mercy) and my account has been credited with His righteousness (thank God for His grace). Nothing I do can make me more or less righteous than I was at that moment I put my trust in Jesus.

      I am not “obligated” to do anything other than trust Him with my life. If I was obligated to do various works, “grace wouldn’t be grace” (Rms 11:6). He doesn’t even want my acts of service. He just wants me. Jesus is not looking for a maid to serve Him, but a bride who loves Him and who desires to know Him intimately.

      • Alan St. Andrew // September 27, 2010 at 12:39 pm //

        I would point out that Father put “pictures” in the Scripture so that the “child” in us could know the story. If one’s doctrine doesn’t line up with those pictures, well, I wouldn’t try to change the Bible!

        Your last statement, Paul, reminds me of one of those pictures. Mary and Martha. I agree with you. Mary chose the good part, and that will not be taken from her! Martha tried to earn what Mary simply received. Martha was full of cares, and Mary was carefree. These images bring to mind still other images, of being worry (or care) free, not letting the heart be troubled, or afraid; of casting ones cares to the Lord, and letting His peace keep the heart…

        All of this speaks of COMPLETE RECONCILIATION with Father, the “… peace on earth, goodwill toward men” announced at His birth. We now GET to walk in it. We GET to release the captives, reveal the love that has been revealed to us, and placed IN us. To reveal CHRIST IN US. This is not “law”. This is GIFT!

  3. Hi Paul,
    Romans 6:14 is often quoted to dismiss being under any form of law. However reason must prevail for one to ascertain what law is Paul referring to. It cannot be all law as Jesus clearly says to obey His commands (John 14:15). Commands imply law, statute, edict etc. Besides, sin is lawlessness (I Jn.3:4)and as we are all sinners (Rm.3:23) the implication is we have broken the law.

    The law that Paul refers to in Romans 6:14 is contextually the law of Moses which he goes on to show in chapter 7:1-7 by way of illustration that men are “released from the law” (7:7).

    The use of the term “grace” in Romans 6:14 is simply shorthand for the dispensation that Christ brought in by way of the cross.

    An excellent site to ponder for edification is http://www.christiancourier.com Wayne Jackson has a wonderful search engine that will cover the subject of “law” “grace” etc. Give it a try.

    Once again, thank you for graciously allowing me to comment.

    • Hi Graham,
      You must be the most gracious law-lover I’ve encountered. A rare breed! You add qualifiers to Rms 6:14 because you think Jesus “says to obey His commands.” Here’s what Jesus said exactly:

      Jn 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

      A legalist reads this backwards: “Keep my commandments if you love me.” Someone who is walking in grace, reads it as Jesus said it. Keeping His commandments is a fruit of abiding in Christ.

      Let me put it this way. In this country I am aware that there are many laws governing the responsibilities of fathers. Break any of these laws and you might go to jail or have your kids taken away. It’s a serious business. I don’t know any of these laws, but I know that I am keeping them all. How do I know? Because I love my kids. I don’t keep the laws to show the authorities that I love my kids and I don’t relate to my children on the basis of these laws. I relate to them on the basis of love and keeping all the laws of the land flows naturally from that love relationship. I know the laws serve a good purpose, but they weren’t written for me. They were written for fathers who don’t love their kids.

      Rms 3:23 does not say that all are sinners, but that all have sinned. All of us are born sinners. But I am a sinner no longer. I am a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). I am not a reformed sinner and I am much, much more than a mere “sinner saved by grace.” Yes, I have broken the law, but I have died to that which once bound me (Rms 7:6). I have the highest regard for the law and for the purpose for which God gave the law. He gave the law to bring man to the end of himself, and to reveal our need for a Saviour. The challenge is not to try and keep the law, but to stop trying altogether and start trusting the One who perfectly fulfilled it. Trying is the antonym of trusting. If you’re trying, you’re not trusting. If you’re striving, you’re not resting (unless you’re striving to enter His rest!).

      I do not identify with my sinful past. I identify with Christ and His righteousness. He saves me, He qualifies me, and He keeps me.

      • Paul Ellis Says: But I am a sinner no longer. I am a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). I am not a reformed sinner and I am much, much more than a mere “sinner saved by grace. [Sinner: One who sins.] I am with you all the way up to this line. Now you have some splaining to do. I see the possibility of your statement above as confusing. You have two choices, because the new creation can not sin and you are now a complete new creation, you don’t sin or there is still flesh in you that sins and you…as in duel personality…are not responsible for the sins of the flesh. Also for now I have resolved that the book of James be a mystery to me. As for Justification, I do not believe in front loading or back loading the Gospel. Yes there are legalist that are teaching that we need to jump through hoops of works to achieve Justification but there are many more that are judging people’s Justification on obvious fruits and works they should see clearly if you profess to be a Christian. I do not front load or back load the Gospel. Love your blog and Spirit of Grace.
        God Bless.

      • It’s all a question of identity. I don’t define my identity by what I do but by my parentage. My heavenly Father is not a sinner and He says I am perfect forever (Heb 10:14). I’m not about to call Him a liar so if my daily experience doesn’t line up with what He says is true, I’m going to have to choose to trust Him. There are only two kinds of people identified in the NT; saints and sinners, the righteous and the unrighteous, the sheep and the goats, the wheat and the tares. It is an oxymoron to say that you are a sinner saved by grace. It’s like saying “I am a drowning man who has been rescued.” Well, if you’ve been saved, you’re no longer drowning are you? Stop talking and acting like a drowning man. Start talking and acting like a rescued man. It is against the nature of a rescued man to act as though he were drowning. If he ran down the street waving his arms and screaming “I’m drowning,” it would be very odd. Similarly, it against the new nature of a saint to act like a sinner.

        Please don’t give up on James. I know many put him in the too-hard basket which is why I have written ten posts on the man and his letter – actually he wrote two letters.

    • Old post, but I have to say something here. To quote “antipodean59”:

      >>The law that Paul refers to in Romans 6:14 is contextually the law of Moses
      >> which he goes on to show in chapter 7:1-7 by way of illustration that men
      >> are “released from the law” (7:7).
      >> The use of the term “grace” in Romans 6:14 is simply shorthand for the
      >> dispensation that Christ brought in by way of the cross.

      This is EXACTLY the way I used to read scripture. We are no longer bound to the Old Testament law. But the New Testament has a standard of behavior all its own that we are bound to. Which is basically saying that God made a mistake using Moses to write the Old Testament law and should have used Paul, John, Peter, James, etc. For if a law could have been given that would have resulted in righteousness, then Christ wasted his time dying my death and God would have given us that law instead. Clearly flawed thinking.

      ANY law based mentality is a tutor, intended to lead us to 1 inescapable conclusion. Humanity cannot use law as the basis of relating to God, it doesn’t work. Hence… the reason Jesus died, to eradicate sinfulness itself from our hearts. I can now stand firm in his righteousness, free from any law and free from sin. Not free to sin, but free from sinfulness itself. Christ was utterly successful in his work on the cross.

  4. Hi Paul,

    I enjoyed your posts on James! I now see the James instruction more as a motivation than a burden. Burdens make me uncomfortable and I prefer passing them onto Jesus. But I surely would be much more sensitive to putting my faith into action when the need arise – hopefully without trying to hard!!!

    The way I see it, James and Paul are actually talking about 2 different scenarios – Paul about salvation & righteousness with God without works; and James about living out your faith in the salvation and righteousness received by Grace?? I believe it is only when we fully grasp and accept the first that we can really start to ‘do’ the second.

  5. If I may interject my my 2 cents on the law debate…

    The term ‘lawlessness’ is not actually the word John used. He originally used the word ‘anomain’ which means to ‘transgress or violate the law’. So he was saying sin is violating laws, not that sin is the state of being without laws. If there were no laws, there would be no sin to speak of anyway. Rom 5:13 says sin is not counted where there is no law. So under a state of lawlessness, the way Graham uses the word, sin would not be counted anyway. The absence of law results in the absence of sin. Why? Because the law brings the knowledge of sin according to Rom 3:20. So if there is no law, there is no knowledge of sin.

    This actually makes for an interesting topic to look into further because God says in the announcement of the New Covenant through both Isaiah and Jeremiah that He will remember our sins no more. (See Isa 54:4 and Jer 31:34) Then the writer of Hebrews refers to this twice in Heb 8:12 and Heb 10:17. So if God remembers our sins and transgressions no more, it means He must not have knowledge of our sins. If the knowledge of sin comes through the law and God doesn’t have the knowledge of sin, it means He completely did away with any and all laws that could bring the knowledge of sin.

    The flip-side of this coin is that the law can bring the knowledge of sin, but when you don’t transgress it, it brings the knowledge of righteousness. The law, since it has been fulfilled by Jesus, now only testifies to our righteousness in Him. Rom 3:21 tells us that the righteousness revealed from God is witnessed or testified to by the law and prophets. So even if there is still a law, it no longer against me, it is now for me, testifying to my righteousness in Christ.

    In Grace,

    • Cornel, great thoughts, in my opinion. However, I would think that God simply chooses not to consider our sins anymore, rather than totally forgetting they occurred. It would seem that a perfect, all-knowing God who had to give up His Son for us would know each and every sin of ours; yet, Jesus’ blood not only covers those but also washes them away from us.

      One reason I suspect this is that we’re to be rewarded in some way for the balance of our good works, that they’ll be subject to the refining fire and if anything remains, then we receive a reward. The way this all works and the rewards themselves I have limited understanding of; just that it seems to read this way.

      Thanks again. Really good stuff to chew on though.

      • Kevin mills // March 14, 2021 at 5:53 pm //

        The reward in revaluations is Jesus.it says your reward is with me.not- rewardssssssss.we don’t do void works on earth to get a reward-that would be selfishness doing to get rewards.

  6. markarcher99 // July 22, 2013 at 1:24 pm // Reply

    James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Genuine faith will always result to good works.. James was referring to someone who claims of his faith before men.. Works justifies us before man that we have a saving faith. Works is not needed to be justified before God.

  7. I’d like to echo what PAUL (not Paul Ellis) said here: “Yes there are legalist that are teaching that we need to jump through hoops of works to achieve Justification but there are many more that are judging people’s Justification on obvious fruits and works they should see clearly if you profess to be a Christian.”

    This is exactly the problem with the theology embraced by our denomination. We are so theologically correct about justification, and then there is this progressive sanctification as a required proof of our saving faith (so that we become more and more like Christ). The focus here at escape… is not so much with our version of sanctification, but with authentic faith that can produce fruits in some shape or form.

    Can a branch somehow produce fruits? Or is it more like it is bearing fruit (not knowing how or when it happens) due to the fact that it is attached to the vine?

    When can one really have the Sabbath rest if there is a possibility that the Lord may not be completely pleased with one’s faith? Without fully entering this rest, wouldn’t the fruit (for death–Rom 7:5) that comes out of us a product of the flesh?

    This fear of being not pleasing to the Lord, as in the case of our church’s theology, is what that makes 99.9999% of our congregation doubt whether they’re saved at all. It seems we put a “but” at the end of the New Covenant.

  8. Michael Jenkins // November 24, 2013 at 7:24 am // Reply

    This is so true, I love how you just preach pure grace. Ah this is the good news!

  9. I have a bit of a problem with the part “Unbelieving believers,” where you wrote “I know you will find this hard to believe, but I have heard of Christians who claim to have faith, but they don’t heal the sick.”

    You equate the faith that saves your soul to the faith that heals the sick. On how many verses is this theology based on?

    While I believe with certainty that with a tiny mustard seed faith in Christ, I’m saved to the utmost, especially when God took an oath to seal it with certainty, I’m not sure if God will let me walk on water, or handle serpents, or speak in tongues, or have visions and dreams, or understand all Scriptures, or move mountains, or casting a tree to the middle of the ocean, casting out demons, or … heal the sick?

    If I have these doubts, will that make my claim of faith in Christ one that will not let me inside the pearly gate?

    No, I don’t doubt that God can heal, I frankly don’t know if He gives everyone the gift or the power to heal, or everything that He had ever done to all who are His brothers. Why only pray?

    I know God gives me the power of music to heal people in a more subtle way that are not visible to the naked eyes. Even I don’t know the full impact of the music I perform every Sunday celebration, how it lifts someone’s spirit, how it gives them hope.

    I know God gives me the power of the love of church maintenance to make our church building a warm and welcoming place for our small congregation.

    And I do all these things without exerting any kind of faith, except that of completely trusting that on that day, Jesus will call my name, and I will gladly step forward. This is the only faith I have, nothing else.

  10. Other teachers like Brother Hagin and Apostle Fred Price and E.W. Kenyon have used James 2 not in reference to our saving faith (which is by faith alone by grace alone, eternally secure) but to the faith we walk in day to day. In other words James is referring to corresponding actions to what you are believing for. When I pray for the sick the majority of healing manifestations came when the person did something they couldn’t do before. When they acted on what they believed. Perhaps James is a teaching on how to walk by faith not about our position of righteousness. Not about being contrary to Paul and the gospel of grace….
    Just saying…

  11. Top quality post!
    The deeds James talks about are those that show we believe what we say about God and us not the ones that show our moral righteousness.
    We are commended for being faithful not reasonable or moral.
    Faithful behaviour is a higher standard.
    Thank God He has given us His faith.

  12. Thanks for that. Those links both went to websites that are no longer maintained. I have removed the links.

  13. Paul,
    Two things on James:
    1-In Gal 2 he is the one sending people from Jerusalem to circumsice gentiles and preach judaism, and remember what Paul says in Gal 5:2
    2- The book of James was written before Paul went to heaven and received the revelation of Grace
    There is only one Apostle of Grace- Paul. Rom 1
    The message of Grace was not revealed to James, or the other Apostles (none of the princes of this world)
    It is interesting that Luther left the book of James outside the Canon – as an Apocrifa.
    I can elaborate in detais.

    You are doing a good job on preaching Grace!

    • I believe you are referring to Gal 2:12, which I discuss in this article. You may also be interested in this one.

      • Luther wanted to remove James from the canon because according to Luther, faith is not what qualifies you as righteous (which is clearly what James is saying); rather, according to him faith is the means whereby we accept the righteousness of Christ to replace our own unrighteousness. Melanchthon and Calvin agreed with Luther on this matter, which is why almost all Protestant Evangelicals today presume this is what Paul is saying in Romans/Galatians, and they also try to make James fit with how they interpret Paul. It’s my opinion, however, that Luther was wrong. Paul pretty clearly says that our faith itself is reckoned by God as righteousness. However he does exclude “works” as part of that equation, which is why I still think Paul and James do not agree. Our faith is freely accepted as righteousness by virtue of Christ (says Paul); our faith must be demonstrated through works if it’s to be recognized as righteousness (says James).

  14. Jeffery Apperson // May 24, 2018 at 11:51 pm // Reply

    God sees our heart of faith in Him. Our work of faith is what people see when we do the work.

  15. This is the best commentary (not sure if this is the right word, exactly) on James I have ever read and it blessed me so much!

    Even before I started learning about the true gospel of Grace, James always bothered me and I felt helpless and lost when reading such passages that seemed so uncharacteristically harsh. Thank you SO much for setting the record straight here and for helping us understand exactly what James was saying and why he said it (and to whom he said it). Also, the anecdote about your little daughter really bolstered my own faith!

    I wonder if you know what an incredible blessing your writings are!

    • Jana, I absolutely agree with what you said! I just found this site, yesterday and it has blessed me so much! Paul, thank you for what you do! You are loved and appreciated! Blessings in Christ!

      • Right on Andrea! This site has blessed me too, so much. I also love listening to/watching/reading Joseph Prince; are you familiar with his work? I discovered Paul Ellis through such Grace teachings. 🙂

  16. So if I dont heal the sick does it mean that I dont have real faith and therefore I am not saved?

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