Justified By Works That Cannot Justify?

The Sunday lesson for May 31, 2020

Justified By Works That Cannot Justify? (James 2:14-26)

Phillip Stuckey, May 31, 2020
Part of the Paradoxes of the Bible series, preached at a Sunday Morning service

For many years now, one of the most debated points in discussions about Christianity and justification is the relationship between faith and works. No one disputes that faith in Christ is essential (John 3:16; Rom. 5:1). But are righteous works essential to salvation? Some look to the apostle Paul who wrote that no one is justified by works (Rom. 3:28). Others look to James, who wrote that one is justified by works and not faith alone (Jas. 2:24). How can both statements be true and inspired?

Tags: Bible Study, Faith, Love, Paradox, Salvation, Truth, Works

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James 2:14–26 (Listen)

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 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. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 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. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

(ESV)

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