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A Faith That Works

February 26, 2023 Speaker: John Bell Series: James: A Faith That Works

Passage: James 2:14–26

Definitions and Terms:

  • Works: in this passage, “works” are the sum total of a changed life brought about by faith.
  • The relation of faith and works: throughout this passage, James is not asking if faith + works saves a person. He is asking if a “faith” that does not produce works saves. His answer is no. James assumes that genuine Christian faith includes works. Thus, when James wants to talk about less than genuine faith, he qualifies it as not having works, or “faith alone”.
  • Justify: by “justify,” James means God’s final, ultimate declaration of a person’s innocence before him at the time of judgment. By “justify”, the Apostle Paul means the initial declaration of a sinners’ innocence before God. That Last Day verdict is brought forward to the present and the Christian is declared righteous by God.
  • Synergism: the (false) view that God and humans work together, each contributing their part to accomplish salvation in and for the individual.


  1. “Faith” without works cannot save (14-17)
  • Question: can workless faith save (14)?
  • James considers the examples of Christians who refuse to help fellow believers in time of need (15-16).
  • Answer: workless faith cannot save. A “faith” that is not a working faith is not a saving faith but a bogus faith (17).
  1. Despite allegations to the contrary, faith and works are inseparable (18-26).
  • Without works it is impossible to demonstrate the presence of living faith (18).
  • Demons have “faith” without works but are not saved (19).
  • Abraham and Rahab demonstrated their faith by their works (20-25).
  • “Faith” without works is dead (26).

More in James: A Faith That Works

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The Peace of Genuine Wisdom

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The Bridled Tongue

February 19, 2023

Favouritism in the Church