Some religious denominations teach that man is justified by faith
only while others attempt to be justified by works of law. The Bible
teaches that neither faith alone nor works alone can justify a man,
but that it takes faith together with the works of faith to justify
Note in James 2:24 that we are taught that justification is "not
by faith only." James is making the point that both faith and works
are necessary to stand justified before God. He uses the example
of Abraham and states in vs. 22 "do you see that faith was working
together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect." If
we follow the teachings of some men today and simply believe in
our heart that Jesus is the Son of God and accept him into our life,
we will not have a perfected faith as is taught by the Bible.
Still there are some who seek to be saved by works in the keeping
of Jewish law. Paul addresses this same situation in Galatia where
Christians were attempting to be justified by keeping the old law
and being circumcised. In Galatians 2:21 Paul concludes that "if
righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."
Later in Galatians 5:4 Paul declares that people trying to keep
the law had become "estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be
justified by law; you have fallen from grace." So, we see that works
of law are unable to justify man or save man.
Jesus was asked by some men: "What shall we do, that we may work
the works of God" (Jn. 6:28)? Jesus said: "This is the work of God,
that you believe in Him whom He sent" (Jn. 6:29). So we see that
even believing in Jesus is a work. For someone to affirm that we
must not work to be saved he must also affirm that we do not have
to believe to be saved.
We must agree with Jesus and affirm that work is needed to be saved
since belief is a work. This type of work is different from what
Paul condemned because he also taught that belief was necessary
to be saved.
The difference between the work of belief, meritorious work of
law, and the belief of demons is faith. Paul said: "For we walk
by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7). And James said: "You see then
that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. . . . For
as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is
dead also" (Jas. 2:24-26).
Therefore we must conclude that we are justified by a living faith
- a faith that is obedient to God.