Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Genuine faith and false dead faith!

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?

1) What good is it: What benefit or advantage is it.
2) my brothers: professing believers to whom James wrote.
3) if someone: The someone that James is speaking about here could be anyone anywhere and is not limited to this audience he called brothers. The whole world would be covered by James use of the term someone.
4) if someone says he has faith: James is speaking of a professed claim of faith. He did not say if anyone has faith, but if anyone SAYS he has faith. If he were speaking of a genuine faith he would not have a reason to have added the word “says”.
5) but does not have works?: The description is complete as James is talking about someone who claims to have faith but does not have works. The question is complete. James is asking about someone who claims to have faith, but gives no indication that he has been born again with the attributes that genuine true believers have when they are made into a new creation by the hand of God the Holy Spirit.
6) Can that faith save him?: The “that faith” James is referring to is not a genuine faith but a claimed false faith. This is a rhetorical question with the obvious answer of no. James is not contradicting justification by faith alone. He is making a distinction between how a born again spirit indwelled believer responds to grace and how a hypocrite who claims to have faith responds to a dead worthless false faith.

The obvious answer to the rhetorical question James poses is that such a claimed faith is no good because it is not genuine and does not save. However, genuine faith is wrought by the power of God in regeneration and saves completely. This leads to sanctification by a believer who has a new nature with new desires and a new attitude. All genuine believers are not only changed by regeneration, they are also led by the indwelling Spirit (Romans 8:14). As a result genuine believers will have attributes that are distinguishable from those who have a false dead faith.


jazzycat said...

This is the plain and literal reading and meaning of this passage which is in context with the rest of Chapter 2.

donsands said...

How could it mean anything else. Very nice Wayne.
I thank the Lord for the book of James. It complements the Apostle Paul, and keeps us all honest, and on our spiritual toes.

At a Bible study once, the pastor was teaching on Sola fide, and a person in front of me whispered to her friend, "Right, we simply believe, and we're off the hook".

I asked the pastor if he could expound on this truth for her sake.

She repeated her disgust with faith alone, and said that's all there is to it.
He said, "Yes. But, I'll show my faith, by my works."
The woman was a Catholic, BTW.

Luther said, "A Christian isn't made righteous by doing righteous things, but being made righteous by faith in Christ, he then does righteous things." (paraphrased)

jazzycat said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I believe the power of God is at work in regenerated believers. I heard the late Dr. D. James Kennedy say one time, "If there is no sanctification in a person, then there has been no justification." IOW, justification saves completely and produces sanctification!

It seems that no matter how many times we explain it to our false accusers, they still want to spin it into works salvation.

mark pierson said...

One would be hardpressed to find the FGT view of James 2:14-26 in church history.