The Work of Faith.
Let us stop a moment to read the words penned by James upon this transaction. “Wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.” James 2:20-23.
How is it possible for anyone to suppose that here is any contradiction or modification of the doctrine of justification by faith as set forth in the writings of the Apostle Paul? The Apostle Paul’s writings teach that faith works. “Faith which worketh by love” (Gal. 5:6) is declared to be the one necessary thing. He commended the Thessalonian brethren for their “works of faith.” 1 Thess. 1:2, 3. So the Apostle James uses Abraham’s case as an illustration of the working of faith. God had made a promise to him; he had believed the promise, and his faith had been counted to him for righteousness. His faith was the kind that works righteousness. Now that faith received a practical test, and the works showed that it was perfect. Thus the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness.” This work was the demonstration of the fact that faith had justly been imputed to him for righteousness. It was faith that wrought with his works. The work that Abraham did was a work of faith. His works did not produce his faith, but his faith produced his works. He was justified, not by faith and works, but by faith which works. -- E. J. Waggoner
The Present Truth, July 2, 1896, p. 423.