Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Examination of James 2 and justification by faith.

The book of James is one of those "oh man I wish it didn't say this" type books to some people. I will try to explain the passage in light of King James Bible believing, Mid-Acts, Pauline right-division according to the revelation of the mystery.

John 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you

James 1:
[1] James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
[2] My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
[3] Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
[4] But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

James 2:
[14] What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
[15] If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
[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?
[17] Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
[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.

 In 14-18 we see that James is saying that faith alone does not save someone and that if faith does not have works than it will not save a man and that faith is "dead" without works. 

[19] Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
[20] But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

Here James says that you can believe and profess in the one true God, but he says that the devils will do that. James goes on to say that believing in one God is not enough and that you must have works with your faith or else it is dead faith. 

[21] Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
[22] Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

 James now says that Abraham was justified by works when he offered up Isaac and that works are what makes a mans faith perfect. Some go to Romans 4 and say "but Paul says that Abraham was justified by faith". Look at the next verse.

[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.

James says "
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".  This seems to indicate that when the scriptures said "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness" in Genesis 15:6 was also a prophecy of what would come when Abraham's faith was "made perfect" which was by works. 

Genesis 15 says that Abraham received righteousness when he "believed in God", but we have just seen in James 2:19 that believing in God is not enough but that faith needs to be "made perfect by works".

[24] Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
[25] Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
[26] For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also

There we see an example of how someone else was justified by faith and works. 

Pastor David O'Steen of Landmark Baptist Church offers this which is very good.

"James uses the father of the Hebrew nation as an illustration of being justified by faith that works. In Genesis 15:6 we read that Abraham’s faith is counted as righteousness. In Romans 4 Paul uses Genesis 15 to prove that is possible for God to impute righteousness to a man on the basis of faith. James points out that Abraham was justified by a faith that worked because 40 years (40 is the number of testing in the Bible) after Genesis 15 he proves his faith by works in Genesis 22 when he was willing to offer up his son Isaac. Abraham’s works in Genesis 22 proved that he really believed what God said in Genesis 15 because Isaac was the promised seed and Abraham believed that God would resurrect him to fulfill the promise (Heb. 11:17-19). Abraham was called “the Friend of God” because he was obedient to God (John 15:14). In Genesis 22 God tested Abraham’s faith just as in the tribulation he will test the faith of the “twelve tribes scattered abroad”. Yes, Abraham was justified by faith, but it was a faith that worked. What if Abraham would not have taken Isaac up on that mountain? Notice in v. 22 that Abraham’s works made his faith perfect. Therefore what God said in Genesis 15:6 was fulfilled in Genesis 22. Abraham was not “justified before men” in Genesis 22 because he and Isaac were on that mountain alone and it was God that testified “NOW I know that thou fearest God, seeing that thou hast not withheld thy son, thy only son from me.” As members of the body of Christ we are made perfect by faith ALONE (Col. 2:10)."   

 Pastor O'Steen put that well. 

Some ask the following questions:

Why does Paul quote the OT and say "the just shall live by faith"?

Paul by inspiration of the Holy Ghost quote the scripture different than what the original autographs actually said (dig that). Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 

 "Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith."

But Paul says in Romans 1:17 "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith"

The "originals" said that the just shall live by his faith. Paul only says that "the just shall live by faith". In all other dispensations people were justified by their own faith and their faith had to be "made perfect by works". But now in this dispensation we are justified by "the faith of Christ" (Rom. 3:22). Christ's faith does not need "perfecting" like a mans faith which is why Paul says in Romans 4:4-5 "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."

Why does Paul say that Abraham was justified by faith?

Paul is making the point that God can and has imputed righteousness based on faith. However, Paul does not go in to the matter of Abraham being justified by his faith which needed works to be "made perfect". Paul is just teaching that you can be justified by faith, for us that is the perfect faith of Christ which does not need perfecting. Everyone has always been justified by faith, but the issue is who's faith.

Also remember that Abraham's justification was not fulfilled until Genesis 22 at the offering up of Isaac. Justification by a mans faith is a process. In this age however, we are instantly justified by the faith of Christ which does not need perfecting. (also see Romans 4-5 in addition to 3)

Romans 3:
[21] But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
[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:
[23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
[24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
[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;
[26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
[27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
[28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Romans 4:
[4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
[5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
[6] Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
[7] Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
[8] Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Now you do have to believe God and have faith in Christ's blood (3:25) to receive salvation and this is counted to us for righteousness according to Rom. 4:5, but after that we are instantly justified by the faith of Christ (3:22).

 This gospel of the grace of God revealed through Paul. 

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

Romans 4:
[4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
[5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

[22] And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. (FAITH)
[23] Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him (RIGHTEOUSNESS);
[24] But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
[25] Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Acts 16:
[30] And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
[31] And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

1 Corinthians 15:
[1] Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
[2] By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
[3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
[4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Ephesians 1:
[7] In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

[13] In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

It is also worth noting that James 2 cannot be talking about "justification before men" as some suggest. That idea is totally foreign to scripture and is never condoned. 

Luke 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

And as Pastor O'Steen pointed out that when Abraham was said to be "justified by works" at the offering up of Isaac NO ONE else was around to be justified by! 

Read Pastor O'Steen's full article here http://kjbstudy.blogspot.com/2014/03/james-214-26_3288.html 

Keep studying! --Hoss 


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