Our women's bible study group is currently studying the book of James. I did some in depth studying on our last session: The role of good works in the believer’s life. This has always been an interesting topic regarding salvation because sometimes we read one or 2 lines of scripture and come to a conclusion that can be a little skewed.
In reference to the scripture below from James -26, here are some interesting points that I found.
James talks about the external results; James says this is what saving faith looks like.
Faith and Works
14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can [n]that faith save him? Works bears testimony of the inner-man.
15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, [o]be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is [p]dead, being by itself. The cause must come before the effect. As evidence of a changed life, salvation must come first.
18 But someone [q]may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? James speaks to the man who is all talk and no show (actions). True salvation always proves itself.
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and [s]as a result of the works, faith was [t]perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. Abraham’s works mentioned by James were a result of justification which came by faith 25 years earlier. Abraham was not being saved again. He was showing evidence of his salvation, confirmed in the justification by faith, accomplished years before. Paul and James cite 2 different times in Abraham’s life, events separated by 25 years.
24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. “Works” are the result of true “faith”. Jesus Christ and His righteousness is the standard.
Salvation is the result of God’s grace and your faith.
Paul looks at what goes on internally; Paul says we are saved by “faith”.
Ephesians 2:8-For by grace, you have been saved through “faith”; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.
Romans 10:6-But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works.
Galatians -If Righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died needlessly.
Titus 3:5-He saved us not on the basis of deeds, which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy.
I hope this helps others as much as it helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the importance of both faith and works in a believer's life. I touched a little on Ephesians 2:8 in my blog post titled: Salvation Is A Free Gift. As humans, we believe that nothing is free and everything must be earned. After all, hard work is everything and we really seem to struggle with accepting unmerited favor aka grace. Well T.D. Jakes helped me to realize that "Favor Ain't Fair". This means that God shows grace on whomever he chooses and it's never about earning it. We just aren't good enough, period.
Online Reference: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/2042251/posts?page=155