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James 2:24 (LEB)

24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Romans 3:28 (LEB)

28 For we consider a person to be justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

The book of James was written by James. While the book of Romans was written by Paul. But Read the verses above again until you reach a point of asking “how am I justified. By Faith? Works? Both?”

– Book of James written about 45 A.D.

– Book of Romans was written 57 A.D.

Yes, ask yourself. Am I justified by works? or by faith? or both? Before we go any further. Let me assure you one thing. You are justified by your faith. The works are the evidence of the faith you have.

 

“Justified By Faith And Not By Stand Alone Works”

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Stand alone works, that is apart from faith are called “self effort works” or “human effort” or “dead works”

 

Works of Law, Works of Faith

Just like you, I too was confused. How can James mix faith with works? so I ask Jesus to help me understand.

I was prompted to substitute the word “works” in James as “fruit of faith”. As well as the word “works” in Romans as “human effort”. Substituting the words, goes like this.

James 2:14-24 (WORKS REPLACED BY FRUIT OF FAITH)

14 What is the benefit, my brothers, if someone says that he has faith but does not have (the fruit of faith)? That faith is not able to save him, is it? 15 If a brother or a sister is poorly clothed and lacking food for the day, 16 and one of you should say to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,” but does not give them what is necessary for the body, what is the benefit? 17 Thus also faith, if it does not have (the fruit of faith), is dead by itself. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have (the fruit of faith).” Show me your faith apart from your (fruit of faith), and I will show you my faith by my (fruit of faith). 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe, and shudder! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish person, that faith apart from (the fruit of faith) is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by (the fruit of faith) when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working together with his (fruit of faith), and by (the fruit of faith) the faith was perfected. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by (the fruit of faith) and not by faith alone.

A tree will yield its fruit.

Look at verse 21. James was saying Abraham was justified when he offered Isaac. Then James said the scripture was fulfilled. Let’s go back to Abraham in Genesis

Genesis 15:6 (NKJV)

6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness

Genesis 22:10 (NKJV)

10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son

Hold on, Didn’t James said Abraham was justified when he offered Isaac (James 2:21)? Wasn’t Abraham called righteous long before He offered Isaac? I’m sure Genesis 22, comes after Genesis 15. Right?

Look at what Paul says in the book of Romans

Romans 4:1-8 (WORKS REPLACED BY HUMAN EFFORT)
1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by (Human Effort), he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the scripture say? “And Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who (does Human Effort), his pay is not credited according to grace, but according to his due. 5 But to the one who does not (do Human Effort), but who believes in the one who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks about the blessing of the person to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

7 “Blessed are they whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
   and whose sins are covered over.
8 Blessed is the person against whom the Lord will never count sin.”

Paul said Abraham was not justified by Human Effort or by works. Simply by believing Abraham was justified.

But Abraham did works? Right? Yes. Abraham did works. But this work is the result of the faith in him. I say again work, singular and not works.

Abraham perform “human work” and the result was Ishmael.

Abraham effortlessly perform as a result of the “fruit of his faith” and the result was Isaac.

Singular because the only work acceptable to God is the work out of faith, and that is believing.

John 6:28-29 (LEB)

28 “What shall we do that we can accomplish the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God: that you believe in the one whom that one sent.”

Jesus was asked about the works that is referring Human works. But Jesus answered “Believe”.

Moving on.

Romans 3:21-28 (WORKS REPLACED BY HUMAN EFFORT)

21 But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed, being testified about by the law and the prophets— 22 that is, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by his grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God made publicly available as the mercy seat through faith in his blood, for a demonstration of his righteousness, because of the passing over of previously committed sins, 26 in the forbearance of God, for the demonstration of his righteousness in the present time, so that he should be just and the one who justifies the person by faith in Jesus. 27 Therefore, where is boasting? It has been excluded. By what kind of law? Of (Human Effort)? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we consider a person to be justified by faith apart from the (Human Effort) of the law.

Notice verse 27. “Therefore, where is boasting?”

Ephesians 2:8-9 (LEB)

8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 it is not from works, so that no one can boast.

Works produces boasting. So where is boasting? It has been excluded because It is [by grace] through faith.

 

Fruit Of Faith, Human Effort

The book of James and Romans is complimentary to each other, rather than a contradiction. James was describing what “Faith” is and its fruit called “Works”. Paul was contrasting “Faith” excluding the human effort which require “Works” that produces boasting.

You are Justified by Faith. Period. No more. No Less.

James talks about Faith and its Fruit as one entity

James 2:26 (WORKS REPLACED BY FRUIT OF FAITH)

26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without (Fruit of Faith) is dead.

Paul talks about Faith and Human Effort as two different entities

Romans 4:4-5 (WORKS REPLACED BY HUMAN EFFORT)

4 Now to the one who (does Human Effort), his pay is not credited according to grace, but according to his due. 5 But to the one who does not (do Human Effort), but who believes in the one who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness

 

Isaac Is The Fruit Of Faith, Ishmael Is Of Human Effort

Look at what God said to Abraham.

Genesis 22:2 (NKJV)

2 ..“Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

Your only son? Isn’t it that Abraham had two sons?

The only kind of work acceptable by God is work resulting from faith.

 

Justified By Faith

A group of farmers in a congregation said to their leader. “Let us pray for rain. The crops needed water badly. Tell everyone to be come and be here at the third day”. So the third day came. Everyone prayed earnestly. After praying, the leader asked them all “Where are your Umbrellas?”

Justified by Faith, Faith perfected by its fruit

Hebrews 12:2 (LEB)

2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the originator and perfecter of faith

Relax, Jesus is the Alpha and Omega of your faith. Just fix your gaze upon him

Acts 13:38-39 (NKJV)

38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

 

“Justified By Works And Not By Faith Alone”

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Stand alone faith, that does not bear fruit are called “false faith” or “dead faith”

So, are we justified by Faith? or by Work (Human Effort)? or both? The answer simply is none.

In conclusion, We are justified by faith — and works. Works that are manifested by faith and not on its own

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