Wednesday, July 16, 2008

James' Main Point: Thoughts on James 2:14:26 Part 2

1. Faith without good works can't save someone because it's "dead" (v14-17).

2. Faith without good works is useless and absurd because the demons have faith that mentally asserts in God's monotheistic existence which produces nothing but fear (v. 18-20)

3. Abraham is cited as an example of being justified by works (v.21) in his offering of Isaac (Gen.22) and his faith was somehow completed by this work (v.22) thus confirming God's declaration of Abraham as righteous by faith in Gen. 15:6 (v.23).

4. James summarizes that a person is declared right by God because of works and faith (v.24)

5. Rahab is cited as an example as a person justified by works (v.25)

6. James concludes with a metaphor that compares a body apart from the spirit and faith without works, starting that both of these things are dead (v.26).

Conclusion- I believe that the main point of James 2:14-26 is to stress the importance of good works to Christians over and against the idea that a mental assertion of God's monotheistic existence is enough to get one saved.


Jason said...

Nice summary. Here are some added tidbits from my study of the passage.

1. v19 - The words "God is one" is a reference to the Shema (cf. Deut 6:4) which is the most fundamental creed of Judaism. Supposedly it was recited twice daily by pious Jews. So James' assertion that even demons believe the Shema suggests that simply having good doctrine is not enough to save you, since even demons can regurgitate the basic creeds of the faith.

2. Here is a good Tyndale quote that relates, "The devil hath no promise therefore is excluded from Paul’s faith. The devil believeth that Christ died, but not that he died for his sins.” Here is a good place to examine the Reformed distinctions of faith: notitia (knowledge), assensus (assent), fiducia (trust).

3. v25 - I believe James included the Rahab example for a reason and intentionally highlighted her disreputable former profession. James is implying that justification is available for all – both the patriarch (Abe) and the prostitute.

4. This Calvin quote readily applies to this passage, “Faith alone justifies, but the faith which justifies is not alone”.

Dan Chen said...

goods thoughts, especially makes perfect sense since james is trying to correct his audience view of the outcast (i.e.James 2:5-6)

a helmet said...

“Faith alone justifies, but the faith which justifies is not alone”.

There is no difference to faith plus works, a creed the reformed are emphatically denying.

Where is the border between saving faith and false faith? -- Statements like that leave men ultimately in self-righteousness.