Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Eternal or Physical Salvation": Thoughts on James 2:14:26 Part 1

"14What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?"

Eternal or Physical Salvation?

It's clear from James 2:14 that good works are necessary in faith for salvation? But how is James defining salvation here? Does he mean eternal or physical salvation?

2 Reasons for the Meaning of Eternal Salvation

I think he could mean both, but with more of an emphasis on eternal salvation. I think James 5:13-20 clearly focuses on physical salvation (healing from physical illness) but I also believe eternal salvation is also in view because of the following 2 reasons:

1) The "Crown of Life" reference found in James 1:12 is used in Revelation 2:9-11 as referring to eternal salvation (It's interesting that John uses this phrase in the context of a call for Christians to persevere in suffering and poverty, which is similar to James' context).

9"'I know your tribulation and your poverty but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.' -Rev. 2:9-11

2) There are a bunch of verses that suggest the need for good works (sanctification) in order to receive eternal life (Rom. 2:6-11, Gal 5:16-24, John 5:29, Mathew 25:31-46, 2 and Peter 3:11-13)


I believe that James is stating that good works are usually necessary for eternal and physical salvation [1].

[1] In regards to physical salvation, I do believe James realize that physical death can occur despite a Christian, who lives righteously (cf.James 5:6) so that one's holiness doesn't guarantee a person's good health.

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