|Chapter 1: Text of James 2:14-16|
|Chapter 2: Faith Alone, or Faith plus Works?|
|Chapter 3: James in Three Peanut Shells: Nutshell 1|
|Chapter 4: James in Three Peanut Shells: Nutshell 2|
|Chapter 5: James in Three Peanut Shells: Nutshell 3|
|Chapter 6: Overview of the Message of James|
|Chapter 7: What Does it Mean to Be "Saved?"|
|Chapter 8: Poverty in the Epistle of James|
|Chapter 9: Wisdom Literature and the Epistle of James|
|Chapter 10: Eternal Salvation: What does James have to say?|
|Chapter 11: Irony in the Epistle of James|
|Chapter 12: The Opening Verses of James|
|Chapter 13: James 2:14-17--Salvation in James|
|Chapter 14: James 2:18-20|
|Chapter 15: Justification and the Epistle of James|
|Chapter 16: Exegesis of James 2:21-24|
Faith Alone, or Faith Plus Works?
Ronald R. Shea, Th.M., J.D.
The Bible teaches that eternal salvation is the gift of God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and that one must accept eternal life as a free gift, or not at all.
Without the Scriptures to guide Him, the natural man will invariably come to adopt a belief system different than that taught in Scripture. Some become murderers, some practicing homosexuals, and still others slave owners. And some men, without Scripture to guide them, come to the conclusion that eternal salvation is obtained by good works, either negating evil in the turning away from sin, or affirmatively, by performing works of charity and nobility.
Rather than coming to Scripture to learn the mind of God, some unregenerate men approach Scripture determined to justify the beliefs they already hold. Some use Scripture to justify homosexuality, and others, to justify slavery. Not surprisingly therefore, those who believe that they, rather than Jesus Christ, are the Savior of their own souls, have, for centuries, sought from Scripture proof-texts to justify this conclusion.
The Theological Consequence
Perhaps no other passage in Scripture has been more abused to justify this belief than the second chapter of James. As a result, unregenerate teachers claim that James teaches salvation by "faith plus works, and justification by "faith plus works," and that evangelicals are preaching a half-truth when they preach that Jesus Christ alone is sufficient for man's salvation.
In a similar manner, narcissists who are wise in their own eyes delight in supposing they are smart enough to find "errors" or "contradictions" in Scripture. They likewise point to James, believing they have found proof that the Bible contradicts itself, with Paul teaching justification and salvation by faith alone and James teaches justification and salvation by faith plus works.
The problem, therefore, can be expressed in a simple question: Is the passage of James quoted in chapter 1 teaching that eternal salvation and eternal justification are secured by "faith plus works" rather than by faith alone?
Chapter 2: Faith Alone, or Faith plus Works?