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6. How to Demonstrate Faith (James 2:14-26)

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James chapter two troubles many believers. No less a theologian than Martin Luther wrestled with it’s teaching, promising to give his doctor’s cap to anyone who could show that Paul’s writings could be reconciled with the book of James. At issue is the relationship between faith and works. However, both Paul and James would agree that one is saved by faith alone and not by works; both would also agree that genuine faith produces fruit – good works. In this passage, James casts the scenario that someone’s past profession of faith is not followed by good works. In such a case, are we to assume that his or her “conversion” was genuine? Should we declare someone a Christian based on a past profession, even when that profession has not produced evidence of internal change (good works)? James concludes that workless faith (a profession that produces no subsequent fruit) – like faithless works – is unmeritorious before our heavenly Father. John Calvin summarized this well: “Faith alone justifies, but the faith which justifies is not alone.”

Related Topics: Law

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