Settling the faith vs. works arguments once and for all
Like Jude, I felt a last-minute topic shift was necessary. Seeing the works vs. faith argument raging again, I thought I'd address this first. A lot of people get hung up on terms. For instance, a misunderstanding of the rapture vs. second coming when discussing the timing of Jesus' return. T word tribulation in Matthew 24 conjures up the final judgment, which the bible itself doesn't name, not the general meaning of troubles or strife.
The works and faith argument is another example. This argument could be settle by understanding the context and purpose of the books where these are mentioned. A proper understanding of works in the Christian life also could help.
Remember Romans is a treatise of the what immediately about our salvation, the moment we put our faith in Christ. Romans 5:1 Starts with the phrase having been Justified. Justification is to be declared positionally righteous We are freed from sin's penalty through what Christ did.
Paul makes it clear in Romans 5: 8 this was totally God's decision alone. God took the initiative to reach out to us instead of waiting for us to shape out and ship out, so to speak. Since we cannot seek him on our own, we naturally cannot please God ourselves with our works. They are deficient because they come f our natural unregenerated motives. False teachers can do works and appear outwardly Christian. . However, they are not saved.
In contrast, J's overall theme of Jame's letter is practical Christian living. Therefore works are a relevant topic. Chapter 2:14-26 about works were most likely a correction misconception s of Paul's statements in Galatians or may even Romans. Work evidence of faith, as he says. He drives this point home in 2;19, mentioning demons also believe in God but do not.
19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.(NIV)
Especially after understanding the differences in purpose and context, I am more confident that these statements are complementary. James 2: 22 makes clear the complementary view
You see that [Abraham's] faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. (NIV)
They represent two different stages, the immediate result of salvation vs. sanctification, the progressive conformity to Christ.