The Correct Understanding of Faith and Works in the Epistle of James


A non-Catholic said to me:

Anyone, even today’s catholic apologists, rarely use the James defense as
it is clear that by doing an exegetical study of the “whole” book of James
that the people he was speaking to were those that were making the claim
of having true saving faith. James was merely pointing out that if they
were truly saved, truly believers, their actions would prove so. In no
way is james promoting a “works” salvation. We as believers are to “work
out” our salvation. This is very different from “working for” our
salvation. The work was “finished” at the cross. Nothing we can do can
add to it…


Smart non-Catholic. They’re absolutely right. We can’t save ourselves. Jesus did so once and for all! And now He asks us to turn to Him and accept His salvation. If we really accept His salvation, then we don’t just pay lip-service, but put our faith into action.

Was there a question in your post? Or am I trying to have an argument with myself, because that does happen sometimes. :rolleyes:



How are we supposed to love our neighbor without works? Even James touched on that.

Fullfiling the commandments is obedience to God which saves us. Loving our neighbor is the most important of all. The only way to fullfil that commandment is with works.

Even conforming our will to God’s is a work.

Pursuing and fostering God’s initial grace of faith is a work.



What would probably be a good idea for anyone to better understand faith and then works is to study Romans and James together. I have already studied James and I am now studying Romans. Im only on chapter 7 in Romans but faith and then works is crystal clear.

I agree with the first 2 posts.:thumbsup:


The problem is you are both right.

In order to achieve Salvation, your works have no value. James is not addressing that issue.


In order to remain in the state of Grace, you must have an active Faith. St. Paul calls this the “obedience of Faith”. James calls this “Faith, working through Love”. Our works don’t get us to heaven, and there is no Catholic Teaching that states this.


Our lack of good works shows that our faith is dead, and we will fall out of this graceful state.

In short, “Salvation, you can’t earn it, but you can sure blow it”!!!


Check the Catechism and the Bible!

1039 In the presence of Christ, who is Truth itself, the truth of each man’s relationship with God will be laid bare. The Last Judgment will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life:

All that the wicked do is recorded, and they do not know. When “our God comes, he does not keep silence.”. . . he will turn towards those at his left hand: . . . “I placed my poor little ones on earth for you. I as their head was seated in heaven at the right hand of my Father - but on earth my members were suffering, my members on earth were in need. If you gave anything to my members, what you gave would reach their Head. Would that you had known that my little ones were in need when I placed them on earth for you and appointed them your stewards to bring your good works into my treasury. But you have placed nothing in their hands; therefore you have found nothing in my presence.”

2044 The fidelity of the baptized is a primordial condition for the proclamation of the Gospel and for the Church’s mission in the world. In order that the message of salvation can show the power of its truth and radiance before men, it must be authenticated by the witness of the life of Christians. “The witness of a Christian life and good works done in a supernatural spirit have great power to draw men to the faith and to God.”



If somebody would just define “works” salvation and point out where it is taught in Catholic teaching, then this might be a fruitful discussion. But since the whole charge is just an invention, I’m not sure what the point is.


We have a new creation.

We have a new Spirit/LOVE.

We are adopted children of God, Our Father.

Galations 5: 6 Faith “energeo” by love (Or, love gives “energeo” to faith).

James 2: 26 For just as the “soma” is dead without the “pneuma”, so faith without “ergon” in dead.

Love gives faith life.

We are justified by love and faith.

Love is first, second and third (Matt. 22: 36-40)

Love is greatest (Matt 22: 36-40).

Concerning Galatians 5: 6 Faith worketh by love (KJV).

Without love, faith is nothing (I Cor. 13).


2016 The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus. Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the “blessed hope” of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the “holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

2447 The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:

He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise. But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?



By the way, can anyone show me where Jesus says we will be judged by anything other than our works?


I am watching for an answer to NotWorthy question.


This is the question I often ask of the “faith alone” crowd…are there any verses that say we are going to be judged on our faith ? Faith is essential, but without actively and consciously living your faith, you will have much to account for come time for judgement.

"33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."[Matthew 25]

The criteria here for how we are judged is pretty clear.


Please read I give a rather detailed look at St. Paul’s and St. James’ teaching on justification, along with explaining the real Catholic understanding of this verse. An excerpt:

The problems is that the traditional disagreement poses the doctrines of salvation by ‘faith alone’ and ‘faith plus works’ against one another, as if ‘faith plus works’ is the doctrine of the Catholic Church, while Her official teaching does not contain this emphasis on works. In fact, the most official Catholic statement concerning James 2:24 is one which teaches something Protestants are inclined to agree with, at least in part. Chapter 10 of Trent’s 6th Session teaches on the increase in justification that man may receive once He has already been justified:

When ‘faith is active along with works’ (James 2:22), [the justified] increase in the very justice they have received through the grace of Christ, and are further justified, as it is written… ‘You see that one is justified by works and not by faith alone’ (James 2:24).

Most Protestants would agree with this insofar as it means that faith and good works done by those already justified earn greater Heavenly rewards. However, the Church does not teach that this verse means that works themselves justify a person apart from faith, or apart from the Grace of God, as is evident from the passages of Trent cited above. Many Catholics, because of the arguments over works had with Protestants, unfortunately believe that this is what the Church does teach.

In chapter 4 [of 2 Corinthians], [Paul] teaches that that “our inner nature is being renewed day by day” (verse 16). This is a restatement of a more in depth point which Paul makes in 3:18: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”

This is the very same point that James makes when he says that “man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (2:24). As we do works day by day in Christ, our justification increases and we are more and more transformed into the image of Christ. Our share in the virtues infused by the Holy Spirit increases, and we grow to deeper faith, greater hope, and more complete love.




Our lack of good works shows that our faith is dead, and we will fall out of this graceful state.

In short, “Salvation, you can’t earn it, but you can sure blow it”!!!

But if you blow it then dont you have to do something to get it back? Which would be earning it–which would mean works.:confused:


No. If you blow it, it is given back in the same way you got it in the first place - God touches you with His Grace, which leads you to repentence, and you say ‘yes.’


We are sort of side swiping each other. I get what you are saying-- I believe you are speaking of losing your salvation–right?

When I/we(my church) speak of losing grace or grieving the HS we are talking about losing fellowship with God but not our salvation(He never leaves us). Until we repent(like what you said)we lose our fellowship with God. Kinda like when you get into a fight with your friend, your friend wont talk to you until you apologize.


But if you blow it then dont you have to do something to get it back? Which would be earning it–which would mean works.:confused:

You DO have to do something, but it’s not earned. It’s called going to Confession.

Through serious sin, one cuts themselves off from God. Through repentance and the forgiveness given by, not earned from, God, sanctifying grace is restored to your soul.



AFH, you are beginning to understand the Christian Faith as Christ taught it!!!

This is why Christ gave us the Sacrament of Confession.

Note, giving money to the poor and helping the sick will not buy us back into His graces. We have to restore our relationship with God before we can store up His Graces with our good deeds.


By the same reasoning, didn’t you have to “do something” to get it in the first place? Or were you just born saved?

And again I come back to my question, what exactly is meant by “works salvation”? Until somebody defines it, there’s no point in talking about it.


Certainly, James is saying that we are not saved by works but by a living and persevering faith “that works”. I will say however, in response to the above posting, that the fact that the Catholic Church teaches that the ceremonies of the Sacraments are necessary for salvation crowds out the cross of Christ by adding a ceremonial law in order to be “in Christ”…whereas, the Bible says that we are justified by faith apart from works…whatever law we might be referring to…When a person is TRULY born again…repenting from sin and turning to Christ as Lord (in commitment and submission) and receiving, by faith, the substitutionary death of Christ as the sacrifice that was sufficient for our salvation, they receive the Holy Spirit as spelled out in Acts 10 (Cornelius and those that were there) and become a child of God. This is obviously accompanied by an emptying of oneself of their own self-righteousness and submitting to the righteousness of God…

Romans 10:3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.

When truly born of God…the book of 1 John then very clearly spells out the characteristics of one who was born of God (or, you could say, evidences). I have presented these before…

1Jo 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. {is born: or, has been born}

1Jo 2:29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.
1Jo 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. {is born: Gr. has been born}
1Jo 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. {is born: Gr. has been born}
1Jo 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
1Jo 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
1Jo 2:3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.
1Jo 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.
1Jo 4:13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

There are others in other places…

Ga 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Joh 14:12 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

Being truly born again is a blessing and I long for others to have the transformation that I went through.

The relationship is - FIRST - to repent from sin, empty oneself of their own abilities/righteousness and trust Christ’s “crosswork” for their salvation…all by faith…
THEN, by the transforming power of God (paralleling and typified by the miracles of Christ during His ministry), the person is changed and they now begin the path, as newborn babes, of sanctification in which they conformed to the image of Christ, from glory to glory, day by day as they follow Christ and regularly confess their sins. This is where the works come in…

Joh 6:28 Therefore they said to Him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?"
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

Faith first…works second.

Christianity starts here…

Mt 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

And continues with the outward evidences presented above until, ultimately, they are glorified in heaven and with the Lord.

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