1-) A salvation that does not merit.
Jesus says "those who believe" in the Son of God are saved from eternal perdition. But the enemy of men, the devil seeks to thwart them by deceptive teachings to make believe that it is by works and not by faith that we will be saved. It is therefore essential to highlight the Holy Scriptures, the only source of certainty, that the salvation of God is obtained by faith, without works.
Romans 3:28: "Man is justified by faith, without works of law."
Works please the man, because he finds something to boast about, making himself capable of salvation. To justify this false teaching of salvation by works, we sought to contrast the writings of Paul with those of James. As if the Holy Spirit, who led the pen of each of these two servants, could contradict himself! Yet the salvation that is the gift of God humiliates man and testifies to our awareness that makes us dependent on his will.
John 11.24: Jesus said to him, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, he shall live, even though he should be dead ...."
Paul and Jacques these two inspired authors put in parallel two traits of different characters but which flow from the same Spirit:
The Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 2.8: "By grace you are saved by faith, and it is not from you, it is the gift of God. the works, so that no one will boast ...."
The Apostle James says in James 2:24, "You see that man is justified by works, and not by faith alone."
James does not say that one is not saved by faith, but that one is not justified by faith alone.This is by no means a contradiction since James' argumentation is supported by him in verse 23, by the same quotation that Paul uses in his epistle to Romans chapter 4 verse 3. This quote from Genesis 15.6: "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him in Justice."
Romans 3:16: "Therefore heirs are by faith, that it may be by grace, that the promise may be assured to all posterity, not only to the one who is under the law, but also to the one who has the faith of Abraham, our father to all, as it is written, I made you father of many nations. "
By faith, Abraham, put to the test, offered Isaac his only son. It is by faith that Abraham acted and therefore his work is a work of faith. James therefore unquestionably supports works of faith and not works of law. Let us also note that there is also no relation with the ten commandments that the man with the vain pretension to accomplish to acquire his salvation.
Romans 5.1: "Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, who owe us to have had by faith access to this grace, in which we remain steadfast, and we boast in the hope of the glory of God .... "
2-) An inner change manifested.
Salvation is not bought and not earned, it is the gift of God. What man can not do, God has accomplished. So what is the purpose of the works of faith? Simply to demonstrate existing faith (if it really exists): these works are the proof of faith. There is no profit to say that one has faith. If faith exists, it must be manifested, seen.
James 2:14: "My brethren, what is it for someone to say that he has faith, if he does not have the works, can faith save him?"
Imagine a person who calls himself a music virtuoso. We are all willing to believe it. Wanting proof, we naturally ask him to play us a piece. To hear it would then be sufficient proof. This is also the only way to prove it. And it is on this point that Jacques insists; it is exactly the character of the works that he specifies for us.
James 2:15: "If a brother or sister is naked and lacks the food of every day, and one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warm and satisfy yourself, and give them nothing. not what is necessary for the body, what is it for?...."
So there is no profit to say that one has faith. If faith exists, it must be MANIFEST, see it. And how would it manifest itself, except by the works of faith, the proof of faith? This is how James demonstrates to us that a faith in words only and a faith DEAD in itself.
James 2:18: "But somebody shall say, You have faith, and I have works, show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith through my works .... "
In his reasoning Jacques goes even further: "Show me your faith without works" which is impossible! And I will show you, not my works, but "I, by my works, will show you MY FAITH. Obviously, the works are given here as the demonstration, the PROOF of faith. James does not say that one is saved by faith, but that one is not justified by faith alone. Which is not in contradiction with Paul who tells us
Ephesians 2:10: "For we are his work, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God hath prepared in advance, that we may do them."
3-) The justification
The justification presented by Paul and Jacques are several aspects forming the same homogeneous whole, complementing each other without contradicting each other:
It is God who justifies his origin:
Romans 8:33: "Who will accuse God's elect? It is God who justifies!"
Justification by grace is the free gift of God which is the cause of his love for man:
Romans 3:24: "And they are freely justified by his grace, by the means of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."
The justification by the blood of Jesus Christ is the means employed by God:
Romans 5.9: "Having now been justified by his blood."
Justification by faith seen in its application to the conscience and the heart by faith:
Romans 3:28: "We conclude that man is justified by faith."
Justification by the works seen by the demonstration, in the proof that is made of it:
James 2.4: "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone."
4-) A fruit worthy of repentance
Without Jesus, we are unable to walk the path of good works, not good works to be saved (totally obsolete and abrogated by Christ), but good works because we are saved. These works are the consequence of salvation and by no means the means of obtaining it.
Titus 2.14: "Who gave himself for us, to redeem us from all unrighteousness, and to make himself a people of his own, purified by him, and zealous for good works."
Paul attaches great importance to the question of works, good works, and he abounds in the same sense as Jacques. It is the complete agreement between them; but every aspect of this subject must not be diverted to the profits of traditions; dogmas and religions.
Titus 3.5: "He saved us, not because of the works of righteousness that we should have done, but according to his mercy, by the baptism of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, ... This word is certain, and I want you to affirm these things, so that those who believe in God should practice good works."
The Word of God shows us:
That salvation is the gift of God, to the exclusion of all work done by man:
Ephesians 2.8: "For by grace you are saved through faith, and it is not from you, it is the gift of God."
That the forgiveness of sins is given by the one and perfect work of the Lord Jesus at the cross of Calvary:
Colossians 1.13: "Who delivered us from the power of darkness and carried us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, in whom we have redemption, the remission of sins."
May this salvation be the fruit of his sufferings and his death for us:
1 Peter 2:21: "And this is what you have been called to, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you may follow in his footsteps."
May this salvation be received by faith, for the perfect peace of the believer, for his present and eternal happiness:
Luke 2.14: "Glory to God in the highest places, and peace on earth among the men whom he approves!"
Conclusion: Only the righteousness of Christ can forgive us our sins. The believer is bound to prove his faith. Men know the tree with its fruit. This proof can only be made by works of faith, also called "good works", which are the consequence and the blessed fruit of faith (they are not works of law). Let us give glory to God and to Jesus Christ, his Son, who, through his wonderful work, delivers the sinner who believes in the coming wrath, and introduces him into the favor of God for the present and for eternity. To all sinners, redeemed by his blood, the incalculable benefit of his perfect work! TO HIM ONLY ALL THE GLORY AND HONORS.
John 3.3: "Jesus answered him," Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born again, he can not see the kingdom of God."