How do Protestants deal with James on faith and works?


The Law of Moses.


I always find it very revealing when people leave out V. 10.

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God— 9 not because of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Eph. 2

Engaging in the works God has prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them is not to be separated from the grace by which we are saved through faith. The good works “complete” our faith. The faith is produced in us by grace, and the works for which we were created are also a work of Grace. They are not the basis of our salvation, but they are also not separated from it.


That is not far from the traditional evangelical view. I think the big difference is the answer to “why”. Why do we do Good Works? The Protestant/Evangelical would say something like, “I do works because Christ has changed my heart and my affections so that I now Love God and Love others. Christ loves me so much that I want to show His love to others by ministering and witnessing about Him and His love and grace”.

For an evangelical, what we do is rooted in who we are, that is an adopted Child of the King who loves us more than we can ever image. When we come to faith our identity is changed and who we are (our hearts and affections) is changed and what we do is a result of this change.


so…then the question is…do you do good works as a result of a change of heart?

Justification By Faith
By Dr. William Marshner

The Church Fathers and their successors, the Scholastic Doctors, took the trouble to work out such a metaphysics because the existence of grace as a real entity in man—ontic grace—was and is the foundation, without which the whole Catholic understanding of justification makes no sense. The Protestant Reformers, however, impatient with metaphysics, preferred not to cope with such an entity and denied its existence.4 To them it seemed simpler to say that grace is something wholly in God, namely, His favor towards us. But then, if grace is not something real in man, our “justification” can no longer be conceived as a real change in us; it will have to become a sheer declaration on God’s part, e.g. a declaration that, thanks to the work of Christ, He will henceforth consider us as just, even though we remain inwardly the sinners we always were. Hence, the Protestant doctrine of “forensic” or “extrinsic” justification. Now watch what happens to our own act of faith: it ceases to be the foundational act of an interior renewal and becomes a mere requirement, devoid of any salvific power in its own right, which God arbitrarily sets as the condition on which He will He will declare us just. Whereupon, watch what happens to our good works: they cease to be the vital acts wherein an ontologically real “new life” consists and manifests itself; they become mere human responses to divine mercy—nice, but totally irrelevant to our justification—or else they become zombie-like motions produced in us by irresistible divine impulses, whereby God exhibits His glory in His elect.


A protestant told me because he has faith God will make him do good works.


God doesn’t make us do anything. What he does is stir our hearts and change our affections. We do good works because we love God and love others.

If my wife tells me to buy her a diamond necklace is that an act of love? Maybe, maybe not. It could just be buying her a necklace to keep her from getting mad at me or being disappointed in me. If I see a diamond necklace and think “Wow! my wife would love that” and surprise her with the necklace, then it is unquestionably and act of love.

He has it backwards. Faith is the foundational act of Christian life. . When we come to faith is the moment God moves us from being dead in our sin to alive in Christ. It is when God makes us a new creation in Christ and adopts us a Children. It changes our hearts, it changes our desires, Christ becomes our treasure and following Him and bringing Him glory becomes our purpose. Faith is when we die to self and start live for Christ. Faith is what keeps us in Christ Grace and gives us the desire and strength to deny ourselves daily and live for Him.

Faith is our deep love, trust and surrender to Christ. Faith is what puts the why into the what.

Why do we worship?
Why do we volunteer at our church?
Why do we serve others?
Why do we pray for others?
Why do we support missionaries?
Why do we give to help the poor?
Why do we teach?
Why do we comfort those that are hurting?

The answer to all of those questions (and many more) is because of our deep love, trust, and surrender to Christ. If we answer anything other than that to those questions then we need to examine our hearts to see if we really have faith.


yes ot is ideal if we can always do good because we are regenerated and put pf love but really dping good benefits us even if we are not in the ideal frame of mind . as jesus showed with the two sons, doing os mote important than feelings pr wprds. scrpyre says hewjp dpes gpod -mpt anpit the motive


sounds pretty emotion based. of a person does not have these affections does that mean they are not saved?

iosthere any benefit to doing the right thing when one lacks affection?


Is it possible to be loving if you aren’t in love? Is it possible to be trusting if you don’t trust? Is it possible to be faithful without faith? I supposed we could fake it for a while, but eventually our true self will emerge.


Absolutely. There is nothing in the Scriptural definition of love that is based in emotion, or requires any romantic feelings.

It is possible to act as if trust is present, when it is not.

I am not sure what you mean by this. Can a man be faithful to his faithless wife, even though he knows she will continue with an affair? Yes.

I would say this can be done because a person has faith in God.

But atheists/agnostics will say they can be faithful to people without faith in God.

Yes, and I am suggesting this is what happens when one’s good works are rooted in “affection”. The mood passes, even in the most faithful person. It is human nature.

so, I think you are saying that, if a person does not have the affection you describe, they are not really saved.


I didn’t say anything about an emotional experience that comes and goes or romantic feelings.

True love is loving even when you don’t “feel loving”. There is times that I don’t feel very loving about my wife. However, I’ve never stopped loving her. Love is more than a feeling that comes and goes. It is an awareness or mindfulness of the relationship and it’s importance that never leaves us.

Once we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit and come to Christ in faith, it is the Holy Spirit that gives us this mindfulness, awareness, and thankfulness of our relationship with Christ. It is God working in and through us.

That is what I mean by “our affections are changed”. The Holy Spirit brings the things of God to mind in our day to day lives. It is also the fruits of the Spirit being made manifest in our lives. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control are all works of the Spirit in our life that go beyond any ability to have those attributes from our “will” alone.

It is from this change in our affections that our good works are born.


Ok. Perhaps you can explain what you mean by “in love”?

I am glad we can agree on this point. Because I think Jesus intended us to love our enemies, and we are usually unlikely to be feeling affectionate at least in the beginning.

Yes, I believe that is true, or if it does “leave us” then it is only temporary.

A very frustrated and exhausted parent, for example, may wish they had never had children, but they don’t stay in that state.

I agree. A correlate would be that a person who does not have this thankfulness or experience a cup running over with good works is not really indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

Your theory does not also explain how it is that atheists and agnostics do good things.


The Christian does good things because of the Love of Christ that is living in him that compels him to love others. The things they (Christians and Non-Christians) do may look similar. However, the atheist/non-believer does what he does for personal reasons (everything from building a good reputation, cultural expectations, to the genuine love and care for a cause). However, the Christian does what he does to show the love of Christ to the world and to bring God Glory.

Edit to add- when I said “our works are born” I was speaking of followers of Christ as our. Not mankind in general. Mankind has a myriad of reasons for what they do.


Yes and no. Like OT and Judaism. Did Satan prevail ? Is it over ? What was their mission ? Accomplished? . What is our mission ? It is both now and future, as in final goal.

Of course it is also that death (gates of hell) shall not stop the church from moving forward, growing. Not sure how one gets infallibility out of that.


Only the unfaithful are not prevented from entering hell. Agree, we are not orphans and have the Great Shepherd of our souls.


well, He asked the apostles that , our magisterium, not us

How many times are apostles told something and the CC makes it exclusive for the apostles/priesthood (and not the priesthood of all believers)?

Yes, they were perfect in that endeavor and many others , but in every endeavor ? Jesus was perfect in every endeavor, never failed for a second, unlike the apostles

not sure, again was it exclusive for the apostles ? says “He will guide you

and what church did He found, by what name does it go by, yet the bride has no name ?

So the Church is not all the called out ones, believers, those that are in Christ and He in them , some being not allowed , forbidden, for not having any deviance in decreed beliefs ?


The gates of hell are not “death”. Those who die in the Lord do not pass through the gates of hell. The gates of hell are the abode of evil. Jesus has promised that the abode of evil will not stand against the Church. If error were to be taught, the faithful would be misled through the gates of hell.

We get infallibility out of Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit will lead us into “all Truth”. Infallibility is based on the Holy Spirit, not the fallible persons who are members of the Church.

We can all benefit from the gift, so long as we remain in unity with them.

It goes by the name Catholic, because this was the description that Luke gave it in his gospel. By the end of the first century it had become a formal name.

Yes, all who are in Christ are in His One Body, the Church. Some are imperfectly joined, as they have embraced heresies. There is One Faith (one doctrine/teaching) and it is preserved infallibly by the Holy Spirit in the Church.


That sentence marks and important difference in how we define different words. For us evangelicals the one faith is the definition I gave earlier.

Faith is our deep love, trust and surrender to Christ. There is one faith and that faith is faith in Christ. We don’t associate faith as being doctrine.


I can certainly support this, as it is Catholic, but for us there is no separation between a personal expression of faith in Christ and obedience to the Church He founded. The reason it cannot be separated from doctrine is because it relates to the identity of Christ, which is a matter of doctrine. There is also the matter of how “faith” is defined. Is it just a profession once for all? Is it faith that works? These are doctrinal issues as well. What does it mean to “surrender”? This is all part of the teaching of the faith - what it means to be a disciple.

Acts 2 "Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them**, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins;** and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. "

They were baptized, which involves a profession of faith and then:

“41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Profession of faith > Baptism > devotion to the teaching of the Apostles.


Are you sure? I mean it is even in that first creed i think.

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