FAITH THAT WORKS
"The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, because it makes manifest the righteousness of God. Not only is the law—the righteousness of God—preached, and its majesty upheld by the gospel, but by the gospel the fruits of righteousness are made to appear in the life of the believer.
"As with Rahab, so with all. God does not grant us a blessing because we are righteous, but in order that we may become righteous." (Ellet J. Waggoner, From Faith to Faith - Romans 1:17 : April 1, 1889)
Someone asked us about James 2.14-26, and we know it says the same thing as does Paul and the rest of the Bible. This passage is often wrested to fit a legalistic idea we do not even know we hold - that works and faith are separate and that we must do good works so God can bless us with life, etc. As long as we do "OUR PART"! Our part is to die to self through the surrender to Christ and the cross.
All Scripture is given by the same Spirit and never contradicts itself, so if there seems to be a problem with two passages, the contradiction does not lie with the verses, but within us. Never has it been heard of where the Holy Spirit says one thing, then needs to apologize and add a correction later! The Bible is the Word and Christ is the Word. The same yesterday, today and forever. The Word never changes.
James 2.14 says, "can faith save him?" We know we are saved by grace through faith that works by agape. (Eph. 2.8-10; Gal. 5.6) So if there is a belief that is all by itself and shows not the fruits of the spirit, it is worthless. (James 2.17) True faith cannot be separated from its works. Faith points to its fruit (works) and the works demonstrate the faith.
The works James speaks of are the natural out working of a man that has the faith of Jesus - these works are the fruit of the Spirit and he demonstrates these naturally, without even thinking, not in order to get it. The New Creation of 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 is just that, a new creation that is unlike what we have been. Our old thinking and understanding do not fit here. A new creation has a new mind (Phil. 2) and thus a new understanding and to this mind what we are talking about is natural!
Just as it was natural for us to ‘try’ to show good works through our own effort, which always ended up with depression and discouragement as a necessary consequence to our predictable failure, so with the new creation it is natural to do the good works of Him who now dwells in us.
James 2.21: The justifying 'works' of Abraham are merely the extension and visible part of ‘faith that is working’ - it is those works that were seen. Scripture is very clear that we are justified, and will live by faith, but that we will be judged by our works - but these are not the works understood by one who believes that they get a blessing because of what they do, these are the works that flow naturally out from those that are filled with the agape of God, causing the faith of Jesus to work God's works. (See John 6.28, 29.) God's works are to believe in the one whom He sent.
James 2.22: Now James makes sense, "Do you [now] see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect ['complete'-margin]?"
None of this is correct unless it is seen in the context of the Sanctuary. The sanctuary is where God's law is. The law is His life, and so Corinthians is correct when it says, Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? Isn't this where the law is written? Isn't this where Jesus is knocking for entrance? The great High Priest seeking entrance so that He can cleanse us and bring us home? This is what must be cleansed - our mind and the hidden secret sins in our heart.
Some teach that victorious living comes by the "name it and claim it" type of faith, which is no faith at all. Here they teach that you get what you want because you really believe a lot and all this without any manifestation of true repentance for our rejection of the Spirit in our history, or the principle of crucifixion of self with Christ. (This is ego-centric psychology rather than faith.) It goes without saying there is no concept of corporate repentance whereby the body of God's people join in mourning for what we have done to the dear Saviour. Concern for Him to receive His reward is absent. The motivation is eros-based rather than agape-based. This is the test of whether it is the Elijah message. This whole evangelical movement began in 1888, but is victorious living really a secret? God has His way which is in the sanctuary, and those who teach the other type of faith bypass the sanctuary. The two are incongruent.
If we believe very strongly for something, then if it doesn't come, we evidently didn't believe hard enough or pray long enough or study the Bible long enough! This is salvation by what I do, not by grace through faith.
We can never go wrong to stay in the sanctuary for, “Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; who is so great a God as our God?” Psalm 77:13