Faith AND Works Are Necessary For
James 2:26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from
works is dead.
Once again we have a simple lesson.
Faith apart from works is dead.
Works without faith is equally dead.
Faith justifies initially, but works perfect and complete justification
James 2:24 - the phrase "faith alone" (the Greek "pisteos monon")
only occurs once in the Bible. "Man is justified by works and NOT faith alone."
Unlike what many Protestant churches teach, no where in Scripture does it say
that man is justified or saved by "faith alone."
To the contrary, man is not justified by faith alone.
A person is justified by faith and works acting together, which comes solely from
God's divine grace.
Faith alone never obtains the grace of justification.
What Does The Bible Teach?
Hebrews 11:6 - faith is indeed the minimum requirement without which we cannot
But this is just the beginning of the process leading toward justification.
Faith alone does not justify a person.
Justification is only achieved by faith and works, as we will see later.
Also, this gratuitous gift of faith from God also includes the grace of hope and
love the moment the person is justified.
Ephesians 2:8-9 - Paul teaches us that faith is the root of justification, and
that faith excludes "works of law."
But Paul does not teach that faith excludes other kinds of works, as we will see.
The verse also does not say we are justified by "faith alone."
It only indicates that faith comes first.
This, of course, must be true, because those who do works outside of faith are
in a system of debt, not of grace (more on that later). But faith alone does not
Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38, 3:19, 17:30 - the faith we have must be a repentant faith,
not just an intellectual faith that believes in God.
Repentance is not just a thought process (faith), but an act (work) by which we
ask God for His mercy and forgiveness, and we change our course of action.
Psalm 51:17 - this means we need a "broken and contrite heart," not
just an intellectual assent of faith.
Faith in God is only the beginning.
John 3:36; Romans 1:5, 6:17; 15:18; 16:26; 2 Corinthians 9:13; 1 Thessalonians
1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 1 Peter 2:7-8; Hebrews 5:9; cf. Revelation 3:10; Exodus
19:5 - this faith must also be an "obedient faith" and a "work
Obedience means persevering in good works to the end.
2 Corinthians 10:15 - this faith must also increase as a result of our obedience,
as Paul hopes for in this verse.
Obedience is achieved not by faith alone, but by doing good works.
2 Corinthians 13:5 - Paul also admonishes us to examine ourselves, to see whether
we are holding to our faith.
This examination of conscience is a pious practice.
Our faith, which is a gift from God, must be nurtured.
Faith is not a one-time event that God bestows upon us.
Galatians 5:6 - thus, the faith that justifies us is "faith working through
love," not faith alone.
This is one of the best summaries of Christian teaching.
Faith and love (manifested by works) are always connected.
Faith (a process of thought) and love (an action) are never separated in the Scriptures.
Ephesians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 3:6,12-13; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 John 3:23; Revelation
Further, all faith (initial and perfected) are gratuitous gifts from God, and
not earned or merited by any human action.
God effects everything, both the willing and the achievement.
But God also requires human action, which is necessary to perfect our faith.
James 1:22-25 - it's the "doers" who are justified, not the hearers.
Justification is based on what we do, which means "works."
Notice that there is nothing about "false faith.“
The hearers may have faith, but they need to accompany their faith by works, or
they will not be justified. See also Romans 2:13.
James 2:17,26 - James clearly teaches that faith by itself, if it has no works,
Works are a cause, not just an effect, of our justification because good works
achieve and increase our justification before God.
Scripture never says anything about "saving faith."
Instead, here and elsewhere, the Scriptures teach that justification is achieved
only when "faith and works" act together.
Scripture puts no qualifier on faith.
Scripture also never says that faith "leads to works.“
Faith is faith and works are works (James 2:18).
They are distinct (mind and action), and yet must act together in order to receive
God's unmerited gift of justification.
James 2:19 - even the demons believe that Jesus is Lord. But they tremble. Faith
is not enough. Works are also required.
James 2:20 - do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works
Good works in God's grace are required for justification. But there is nothing
in the Scriptures about "saving faith.“
James 2:22 - faith is active with works and is completed by works.
It does not stand alone.
Faith needs works to effect our justification.
James 4:17 - in fact, James writes that the failure to do works is a sin!
So works are absolutely necessary for our justification.
James 2:15-17 - here are the examples of the "works" to which James
is referring - corporal works of mercy (giving food and shelter to those in need).
James 1:27 - another example of "works" is visiting orphans and widows
in their affliction.
Otherwise, if they do not perform these good works, their religion is in vain.
James 2:25 - another example of "works" is when Rahab assisted the spies
in their escape.
Good works increase our justification and perfect our faith.
Joshua 2:9-11 - Rahab's fellow citizens had faith in God, but in Joshua 6:22-25,
Rahab alone acted and was saved.
This is faith in action.
James 2:18 - to avoid the truth of this position that we are justified by both
faith and works, Protestants argue the justification that James is referring to
in James 2 is "before men" and not "before God."
Scripture disproves their claim.
James 2:14 - James asks, "Can faith save him?"
Salvation comes from God.
This proves the justification James is referring to is before God, not men.
James 2:19 - also, James reminds us that even the demons believe and tremble.
This refers to our relationship with God, not with men.
Thus, our justification that requires works and not faith alone relates to our
status before God, not men.
James 2:21 - James also appeals to the example of Abraham.
Abraham's justification refers to his position before God, not men.
This proves justification is before God, not men.
Acts. 10:35 - Peter teaches that anyone who fears the Lord and does what is right
is acceptable to Him. It is both fear and works, not fear alone.
Romans 2:7,10 - to those who by patience and good works will be granted glory
and honor and peace from the Lord.
Romans 2:13 - for it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God,
but the doers of the law who will be justified.
Paul is referring to the "law of Christ" in Galatians 6:2, not "works
of the law" in Romans 3:20,28; Galatians 2:16; 3:2,5,10; and Ephesians 2:8-9.
The "law of Christ" is faith in Christ and works based on grace (God
owes us nothing) and "works of the law" mean no faith in Christ, and
legal works based on debt (God owes us something).
Romans 4:5-6 - to him who does not work but believes, his faith is accounted to
him as righteousness, like David, who was righteous apart from works.
Here, Paul is emphasizing that works must be done in faith, not outside of faith.
If they are done outside of faith, we are in a system of debt (God owes us).
If they are done in faith (as James requires), we are in a system of grace (God
Hence, Paul accepts the works performed under God's forbearance (grace) in Romans
2:7,10,13 (see also Romans 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 3:12-17; and 2 Corinthians
5:10) which lead to justification and eternal life.
These verses have nothing to do with "faith alone."
Paul uses the word "alone" three times in Romans 4:12,16,23, but never
uses it with "faith.“
Certainly, if he wanted to teach "faith alone," he would have done so.
Romans 6:16 - obedience leads to righteousness.
Obedience is a good "work," an act of the will, which leads to righteousness
2 Corinthians 9:8 - Paul teaches that God will bless us so that we may provide
in abundance for "every good work."
Good works are encouraged to complete our faith.
Ephesians 6:8 - whatever good anyone does will receive the same again from the
God rewards good works done in grace.
Philippians 4:17 - Paul says "I seek the fruit which increases to your credit."
Fruits (good works) increase our justification.
Paul says these works increase our "credit," which is also called "merit."
But the fruits, works, and merits are all borne from God's unmerited and undeserved
mercy won for us by Jesus Christ.
Titus 3:8 - good deeds are excellent and profitable to men (just like the Old
Testament Scriptures in 2 Timothy 3:16).
Good deeds further justify us before God.
This verse should be contrasted with Titus 3:5, where we are not saved by works
of righteousness "we have done."
In this verse what "we have done" refers to a work of law or obligation
for which we seek payment.
But verse 5 also says the "washing of regeneration" in reference to
baptism saves, which is a work of grace, for which we are rewarded by God in Christ.
There is a distinction between "works of law or obligation" and "works
1 Peter 2:7-8; John 3:36 - shows that belief in Jesus means obeying Jesus.
Having faith means being faithful, which requires good works as well.
Hence, obeying Jesus means doing works of love, not just having faith alone.
Conclusion (Part Two)
To be justified before God, we have to demonstrate faith accompanied with works.
Nothing by itself can bring about our salvation.
These few verses should be enough to teach us that the doctrine of “faith
only” is wrong.
If “faith only” is right, then the Bible is full of error.
Who are you going to believe?
By Carey Scott
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