by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
Romans 4:5: “To him that worketh not, but believeth…his faith is counted for righteousness”. Ephesians 2:8,9: “For by grace are ye saved, through faith…it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast”. Titus 3:5: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us”.Yet James states, just as clearly that “faith, if it hath not works is dead, being alone” (Jas.2:17). He challenges professing believers: “Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith BY my works” (Ver.18), and declares that “by works a man is justified and not by faith only” (Ver.24), since “faith without works is dead”.
Some have imagined a contradiction here, while actually there is none. There is a dispensational distinction, for to Paul had been committed “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph.3:1,2). His was “the preaching of the cross” (ICor.1:18), offering salvation by grace, through faith alone, to all who would trust Christ as Saviour.
James, on the other hand, was an apostle of the kingdom, proclaiming the kingdom rights of Christ and offering a changed way of life on earth which had already been experienced by the disciples in Judaea (Acts 2:44-47; 4:32-35).
Hence with James the emphasis is on works, not because good works can save or even help to save, but because true faith inevitably bears fruit and we can judge true faith only by the fruit it bears. Our Lord said: “By their fruits ye shall know them”. Hence James’ epistle abounds with such phraseology as, “ye see”, “show me”, “I will show you”, etc.
What we must be careful to remember is that according to both Paul and James, faith comes first, then good works. Faith is the root, good works the fruit. The absence of fruit indicates that the root is dead, that while there may be an intellectual assent, there is no true heart faith, and “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb.11:6).
The source of justification is grace; the basis, Calvary; the means, faith; and the evidence, works. Think this through; accept God’s grace and trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord. He will cause you to produce good fruit.
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To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.