James 2:14 – What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
Yesterday, we started looking at something called the “order of salvation” and the seeming contradiction between Ephesians 2 and James 2. But, God’s Word doesn’t contradict itself, so these passages actually complement each other when we look deeper.
The fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that God works 1. for you 2. in you and 3. through you. Paul emphasizes the reality of the internal aspect of faith (1-2), whereas James emphasizes the external results of internal faith (3). These do not contradict, but rather complement one another.
Some think that Paul is completely against works, which he is not. Again, the order matters greatly as he says we are saved by grace and Jesus’ works (not our own), but that we are saved to the good works God has planned to do through us by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (God’s work for you). For we are his workmanship (God’s work in you), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (God’s work through you).”
Here’s how I would summarize faith: Faith is a Holy Spirit-empowered internal devotion to God (faith) that produces an external devotion to God (works or fruit). So, it’s actually both internal and external, as God works for us, in us, and through us.
Are you more familiar with God working 1. For you through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection 2. In you by the power of the Holy Spirit or 3. Through you in the fruit of good works?