How do Protestants deal with James on faith and works?


#21

And Lutherans wouldn’t disagree with you, but they would ask, “Who’s works?”

From their view, it’s only Christ’s singular work on the cross that truly saves. This is evidenced by the sheep and goats when they ask, “But Master, when was it that we…?” People aren’t even aware they are doing the works prepared for them by the Spirit.


#22

As a former Baptist, continue to quote “for by Grace are ye saved, through faith. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man shall boast.” Pick verses you want, ignore the others.


#23

Does Jesus ask for faith in the Gospels?


#24

I’m not arguing with you, I’m only explaining what Lutherans believe.

They would say, frankly, yes. Whenever someone is healed, he responds “Your ____ has made you well.”


#25

Thank you, steido01, that you clarify Lutheran belief. However, Jesus doesn’t explicitly ask for faith or works explicitly …


#26

The Protestants I know, and yes, they proudly call themselves Protestants, believe we are saved by faith alone and that works are a result of that faith but our works do nothing to save us.


#27

From an evangelical Protestant perspective, we are justified by grace through faith. Justification happens simultaneously with regeneration–the new birth/new creation–described in Scripture. So, yes, the justified man is also a “new creation” created for good works in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-10). The evidence that you have faith is not that you say you have faith but that you live like you have faith.

The classical Protestant formulation “faith alone” was never used in isolation. It was always understood as part of a larger point, namely:

We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone. (Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, & Soli Deo Gloria) By saying “faith alone”, we are talking about how salvation is received. We cannot work our way to God’s grace, but when we place our trust in God, he begins to work in us for his glory.


#28

A way of putting that is that God descends to us, in love, grace and mercy. Nothing we do will compel God to do so.
We do the good things and works, out of faith hope trust love. We cannot reel God to us, as if we were flyfishers and he a jumping trout.


#29

Luther was a bit of a loon who suffered from extreme anxiety over his own sins and couldn’t fathom how he could ever do enough “works” to justify them so he came up with the faith alone bit to help ease his own mind. Had there not been political advantages for some German princes to use his movement to their ends he’d have been another forgotten heretic. But they capitalized on his criticisms to gain themselves more power


#30

Us Catholics believe there is no contradiction whatsoever between James and any other books.

But then again we don’t see any other books as teaching faith alone in the way commonly understood


#31

For the record, Catholicism doesn’t say otherwise. What we don’t believe is that we are justified by faith alone.


#32

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1 ESV

"The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. Luke 16:16 ESV

Really? How? Because I recall Saint James using the sacrifice of Abraham as an example of justification by works; before whom was Abraham being justified, which men? God alone tested Abraham (“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him” Gen. 22:1) and Abraham even told his servants, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you" (Gen. 22:5).

“You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” James 2:24 ESV

Then why separate them for justification?


#33

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1 ESV

"The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. Luke 16:16 ESV


#34

I am not catholic and I’m not sure why what James said is anyhow a stumbling block.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Can you look upon another person and know what they believe? No. Can God look into your heart and know what you believe? Yes. If a person believes that God exists, and believes in Jesus, and breaks every commandment their entire life, how are they any different than satan and his angels?

To me it’s that simple. On the other hand, as Ephesians states, one can’t hope to enter Heaven by just doing good works their entire life.

If one is truly born again, they will not hide it, and their actions should reflect what it’s meant to be a christian.They both believe in Jesus, thus earning God’s grace of forgiveness, and their actions manifest the belief.


#35

Thanks for clearing that up. I shouldn’t generalize like that.


#37

So, who do we do works for, then? Is it self-serving? We do works to save ourselves?
Or do we do works at Christ’s command to help the least of His children?

It seems to me that grace saves us. We access the gift of grace by faith (also a gift). Then guided by the Spirit, faith frees us to do the good works He has prepared for us to do, not to save ourselves, but to help our fellow man.

Jon


#38

I don’t think anyone is advocating doing good works in order to be seen by other people, least of all James. One can do good works to demonstrate the righteousness they have in Christ without doing it for self-serving reasons. That sort of selfless thing is called “love.” Jesus demonstrated it most clearly when He was publicly humiliated and lifted up for all to see, giving everything – even His life, suffering death on a cross.

I’m not sure this helps your point. This would seem to fit neatly into the idea that good works amount to nothing if done for self-serving reasons.

Well, James explains that the actions of Rahab and and Abraham were counted to them as righteousness because they acted in faith. Had they acted in self-serving glory, it would be, as you noted, “an abomination in the sight of God.”

Context, as was originally explained.

Because of the difference our church bodies have in terminology. Forensic Justification occupies roughly the same place on the “salvation road” as Conversion does to a Roman Catholic. Our theologians read Scripture to make the distinction in that regard, while yours take a more nuanced approach. This is why some Roman Catholics often sound Lutheran when they talk about Justification (Pope Benedict XVI), while others can sound almost Pelagian with regard to works.


#39

That is a good point, I agree.

Then why ‘justification before men’? Again, we are to let our light shine, but for justification solely before men?!

Of course! They acted in faith! Hence: “and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God” (James 2:22-23 ESV). Notice, also, that Saint James states, “he was called a friend of God” after performing his work, and not a friend of men.

Actually, all you said was ‘context’, you did not explain or elaborate as to what that context is and why.


#40

He also says that their works completed their faith. That was a detail you left out.


#41

I think thats reasonable understanding… except for the bolded! James is not compelling us to do works to be justified to men!

Rather, we are freely justified on account of God’s grace given in Jesus, and we bear fruits, which require our cooperation, which justify us before God when He judges our life (if those works are of faith).


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