“Faith, Works and Salvation”

James 2:14 is the first verse of a passage (2:14-26) that is often misunderstood, and one that has led to no small amount of controversy. James seems to indicate that a person is justified or saved by works (2:24). But instead of contradicting the clear passages in Paul’s epistles (Rom.3:28; Eph.2:8-9), James is teaching, like Paul, that we are saved by faith in Christ alone, but the faith that saves is never alone. In other words, those who are truly saved by faith in Christ will be consistently engaged in good works after they are saved (see Eph.2:10). The works are the evidence that their faith is genuine.
James has already written about the “faith that saves” or genuine faith in the verses leading up to James 2:14. Those who have a genuine faith in Christ will faithfully endure the trials and temptations of life (1:3-20). They will continue to believe, trust and obey God through difficult times. They also will not only be hearers of the Word of God, but doers of the Word (1:21-25). They will learn to bridle their tongues (1:26). They will care for those in need, and keep themselves unspotted from the world (1:27). Those who possess a genuine faith will not be respecters of persons, but will love and show mercy to all (2:1-13). My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality (James 2:1).