James, you are way to extreme!

Scripture teaches that Abraham was considered righteous before God because he offered his son on the altar.  Because of Abraham’s faith and obedience (applied action) to God, God counted Abraham as His friend.

Even a harlot was considered righteous for her actions based on what she saw God doing in her midst.  She acted by faith by hiding spies and risking her life, because she new God was with the people of Moses.

I am not so clever to come up with this on my own.  James in his epistle taught that Abraham was considered righteous by his actions and even the prostitute was considered righteous by her actions.  It was their faith in God and their actions combined together that produced the fruit of righteousness in their lives.  James advocates their faith without the actions accompanying the faith was dead.  Consequently our faith without accompanying actions are dead. 

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?  Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.  You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.  In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?  As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.[1]

So what are the implications for us today?  We as believers in Christ start with the assumption we have faith in Christ.  We affirm to ourselves this faith in the work of Christ on the cross produces righteousness in our lives.  At the point of putting our faith in Christ we declare ourselves the chosen, predestined, call, sanctified, justified and saved children of God.  It is even taught that we have no fear of hell because we trust in God for salvation.  We brag we have an irrevocable salvation.

Tony Evens in his book Totally Saved advocates that proof of salvation by good works is an extreme teaching.

“Another extreme teaching focuses not on sin and the danger of losing salvation losing salvation but on the importance of good works as the ultimate proof of salvation.” Page 148

I wonder how James would have responded to Tony Evans book?  James clearly states that faith without deeds is dead.  Wouldn’t dead faith about be as useful to a person as no faith?  Isn’t no faith, a dead faith? 

Tony Evens is in error twice.  Once for teaching it is incorrect to say good works (deeds) as the proof of salvation is an extreme teaching.  Secondly he misunderstands that there is proof of salvation.  Instead, there is the proof of a faith that can save, not salvation itself. 

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?[2]

When we see good works (deeds) in a believer’s life we see evidence of a faith that can save.  I advocate in my book The Gospel According to the Gospel we have a promise of salvation.  I further advocate we have a role to play in our salvation, which really gets the ire of some people, mainly the Calvinist.  They utterly reject the notion that we have any role in our salvation, they prefer the term responsibilities. 

Our role is to believe and put this belief into actions.  If we say we believe only, without good works (deeds), and at the same time say we are saved it sounds more in line with the demonic belief.  If we say our salvation (which is really our hope of salvation) is fixed apart from good works, what more do we have to brag on than demons?

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.  You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ?[3]

James clearly teaches us we can have faith in God all we want, but faith without our actions is dead.  We have nothing over the demonic realm.  To teach men that it is an extreme teaching to look for works in a believer’s life for evidence of salvation (hope of salvation), teaches men to have the faith of a demon.  What good does it do a man to have belief in God that produces no more works in their lives than a demon?

James, you are way to extreme!

[1] James 2:20-26

[2] James 2:14

[3] James 2:19-20

3 thoughts on “James, you are way to extreme!

  1. The Book of James, is part of the canon of Scripture, but it simply must be put in its place both there historically and theologically. Luther was not far off the mark, when he had problems with it, where and how it should be applied, etc. If we look closely, it offers not a Christianity that is still without part of the Law of God… “the Royal law”..(verse 8), “the perfect law, of liberty” (1 :25), etc. But only the Word “engrafted” or ‘implanted’ in the heart will grow and bear fruit in this life, (James 1:21). So James speaks to the reality of the person with the “regenerate” heart. And only here, and here only can the man of faith obey God. Certainly never in the arm of the “flesh”! See James 3:17, this is “the wisdom from above”. But note also chapter 4: 1:1-2, etc.

    Here is a faith that shows works! But again, only from the “regenerate” heart. We could perhaps compare Eph. 2: 10! And with St. Paul’s problems with the judaizers, we should take note and be careful how we press and apply the Book of James. (Compare Phil. 3: 2-3)

  2. Your reference to James 1:21 I agree it is the regenerated man who obeys the word that can obey God. However did you notice James’ comment concerning the word and obedience to the word, “which can save you.”
    (James 1:21 NIV) Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
    James, speaking of the believer obeying the word has a hope of salvation revealed in his comment. Which is what I advocate, as you know.

    As far as James 1:25 I agree with your comment “a Christianity this is still without part of the law.”
    (James 1:25 NIV) But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.
    But I see it as the faith in the law, not the law of the faith. It is the faith of the Law passed down through Moses and the Prophets that gives freedom. Would you agree with this?

    If we need to apply the book of James carefully, then are you saying I didn’t?

  3. Pingback: Changing the debate « The Gospel According to the Gospel

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