James 2:24: “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.”
Often people confuse the “dead faith” in James with “no faith,” but that isn’t the case at all. If something is dead, that means at one point it was alive. It was working. James is talking about a faith that is useless in the sense that it doesn’t save you from death and hardship (see James 5:19-20).
You are already saved from hell because of God’s calling and your faith in Jesus’ finished work (James 1:18).
So, even though Paul and James use the same word for justification, they are using it in different senses. This is one of the most significant misunderstandings in James. Consider the following information:
|Romans 3:28||James 2:24|
|“For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”||“You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.”|
|Dikaioō-to declare||Dikaioō-to show|
|Justification before God||Justification before man|
|Cause of salvation||Result of salvation|
|Root of Justification/Salvation||Fruit of justification/salvation|
|Inner saving faith from God’s perspective||Outward serving faith from man’s perspective|
|God sees heart||Man sees works|
Max Lucado explains, “It is not that works save the Christian, but that works mark the Christian.” We don’t judge other’s eternal salvation but can encourage/disciple others if we don’t see a walk that matches the talk.
Strauss also says, “God knows whether or not I am a true believer on the basis of my faith apart from any works, but men can only know whether or not I am a true believer as they observe my life outwardly. Jesus said we can distinguish between the true and the false only by man’s fruits (Matt 7:16, 21).”
-How are you demonstrating your salvation?
-How is your faith fully alive?