In what has become one of the most controversial passages in Scripture (Ja 2:14-26) James, the brother of Jesus, concludes his exhortations concerning the right attitude and behavior of Christians toward the rich and the poor. This context is often missed because of the clamorous controversy that is typically raised over the apparent contradiction between this text and the apostle Paul’s teaching concerning justi-fication by faith alone. But when one looks at this text closely and in context, the apparent contradiction disappears, as it becomes clear that James is describing one who “says he has faith” (v. 14) followed by an example of what empty faith looks like. The good works of which James writes demonstrate the authenticity of true saving faith. In our text, James draws on two powerful examples from the Old Testament that show that true faith is manifested in good works. The first is father Abraham in verses 21 – 24; the second is of Rehab in verses 25 – 26.
On Sunday, we will open up this text under three heads: 1) Can workless faith save? In verses 14-17 we see an illustration of workless faith which James concludes is vain and cannot save; 2) An objection raised – from verses 18-19, where we find that despite allegations to the contrary, faith and works are inseparable; and 3) Abraham and Rahab (verses 20 – 26) – two illus-trations of a working and saving faith.