Good works proceed from saving faith; faith that does not bear fruit is not saving faith (see James 2:19). James 2:24 is talking about works as fruit and evidence of saving faith, not meritorious works that save us. In fact, James reminds us what kind of perfection is required in order for our works to merit salvation:
“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” (James 2:10)
Thus, if you want to boast in your works, or even in your work of faith, James reminds us that you must keep every point of the law, since even one miss justifies our condemnation for the entire law (see Gal. 5:3-4). And there is only one man who kept the law perfectly, the man Christ Jesus (Heb. 4:15). Read more»
Daniel Rowlands | Are Good Works Enough? | May 19. 2022
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Some good deeds done by us ourselves, small or large accomplishments, are often touted as necessary ones for acquiring salvation, in addition, supposedly, to their other good qualities. Furthermore, there are lots of public prayers in the traditions and hymnody, of the form “give us the ability to do … so we can be in heaven”, one way people avoid the “get cracking” implication, is that supposedly God hasn’t granted the ability for it to the person asking, in the hymns!
So, in the guise of piety, we exonerate ourselves from the “get cracking” hamster wheels for a time by a transfering of the cause lacking things supposedly for acquiring salvation, to God, at least, His timing. But cf. Romans 5:6!
Context is everything. And it is my fervent hope that people who teach or comment on James 2 would begin with James 2:14, which introduces us to a man who SAYS he has faith (emphasis mine.) Just saying that you have faith means nothing, as James goes on to point out. In fact, I’ve told friends and Sunday school classes that if they want to go through the whole rest of James 2 and put “faith” in quotation marks, they would have a better understanding of the passage.
To “begin with James 2:14” is actually one of the most infamous context ignoring moves. It ignores the 2:12-13 context, I think, Tom.