James 2:21

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? James 2:21

James now introduces the first of the two examples which he inferred were coming by the question which comprised the previous verse. He asked, “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” To affirm that it is the case, he begins his examples with, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works.” Albert Barnes states the following concerning this –

“Justified by works – That is, in the sense in which James is maintaining that a man professing religion is to be justified by his works. He does not affirm that the ground of acceptance with God is that we keep the law, or are perfect; or that our good works make an atonement for our sins, and that it is on their account that we are pardoned; nor does he deny that it is necessary that a man should believe in order to be saved. In this sense he does not deny that men are justified by faith; and thus he does not contradict the doctrine of the apostle Paul. But he does teach that where there are no good works, or where there is not a holy life, there is no true religion; that that faith which is not productive of good works is of no value; that if a man has that faith only, it would be impossible that he could be regarded as justified, or could be saved and that consequently, in that large sense, a man is justified by his works that is, they are the evidence that he is a justified man, or is regarded and treated as righteous by his Maker. The point on which the apostle has his eye is the nature of saving faith; and his design is to show that a mere faith which would produce no more effect than that of the demons did, could not save.”

Barnes, as well as others, states that “faith which is not productive of good works is of no value.” This is true, however, he fails to state what “works” are acceptable to justify a man. As noted in the previous commentary, this will naturally cause a person to say, “I need to do works to prove my faith.” From there, he goes and does and does and does, but his doing never satisfies because nobody told him what “works” are considered acceptable.

Barnes then continues with, “that if a man has that faith only, it would be impossible that he could be regarded as justified.” That, unfortunately, entirely negates what Paul says concerning justification. Paul says that a man is justified apart from works of the law. He says that a person believes, and when he believes he is sealed with the Holy Spirit.

Consider the man who believes, is saved, and then dies – such as the man on the cross next to Christ. What works did he do? What about the person who is a quadriplegic and cannot do whatever supposed “works” someone thinks up as being necessary to be justified?

However, this was not the case with Abraham. God declared Abraham righteous in Genesis 15:6. The offering of Isaac was seven chapters and many years later. And yet, James questions, was not Abraham “justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?” It begs a positive response. Is this the same work that is necessary for us? Obviously not. James will continue with his analysis of what Abraham did for the next few verses. He will then move on to the prostitute Rahab. What is it about what they did that makes their works acceptable?

Life application: James remembers the great test of faith of the Hebrew people – that of Father Abraham offering up his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. However, Paul also speaks of the righteousness of Abraham and how it was obtained by him.

Hebrews 11 speaks of this same account of the offering up of Isaac as well. Because of this, it must be incredibly important and a matter that needs to be considered carefully. Take time to read Genesis 22, Romans 4, and Galatians 3. If you can understand these areas of the Bible, and also the account as mentioned in Hebrews 11:17-19, then you can more fully understand what is being spoken of by James concerning faith versus deeds. Together, these passages will take you about 15 minutes to finish but they contain a lifetime of wealth for us to remember.

In the end, the account of Abraham, Isaac foreshadows the Person and work of Jesus. He, the only begotten Son of the Father, climbed this same hill, with his own wood (the cross) on His back; and His Father allowed the sacrifice to continue. Because of what Jesus did, we are now reconciled to God the Father.

It is faith in this action and faith alone which justifies us in the sight of God. Don’t be distressed at any foe that comes against you – Jesus is on your side and God the Father has approved of you because of faith in what His Son did. Be at peace!

Thank You Heavenly Father for the Gift of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thank You that He bore our sin and wrath on the cross so that we are now reconciled to You through His precious blood. We know that we can add nothing to this great work, but we simply need to accept it by faith alone. Praises, honor, and majesty belong to You alone! Amen.

9 thoughts on “James 2:21

  • Thursday, July 18th, 2019 at 7:06 am

    Good morning. So grateful to hear “it is faith in this action and faith alone which justifies us in the sight of God”. The question of faith and works is so aptly summed up here. I had a sense of starting to get into the weeds trying to find my golf ball, and all of a sudden I see that my ball totally Missed the tall grass and is sitting on the fairway instead. Please excuse my frivolous analogy since what faith in Christ’s shed blood is infinitely more glorious! Love to all.

    • Thursday, July 18th, 2019 at 11:02 am

      Hi John
      Nance from California has asked that you contact her. She has lost your email address.

      • Thursday, July 18th, 2019 at 9:47 pm

        Thanks so much Ruth, I will reach out to her. Funny how you in Trinidad? And Nance out west, and me in CO and I get a message from you. Love it, thanks

  • Thursday, July 18th, 2019 at 8:59 am

    John it’s all good, nothing frivolous! What one person may think is frivolous another sees as a Dimond in the rough God knows I have questioned many times what I write for comments but I leave it in the hands of the lord to guide the ones that need to read it to the comments he gives me. Ya I know for sure they are not coming from me as I am pretty much amazed by them when I read them to myself!
    Ruth your observation yesterday about all the bill boards showing all the ” gods and prophets together” reminded me of Project Blue Beam a tribulation event where all the worlds deitys will be projected in the sky and melt together as the one new God of the new One World Religion. Holographics are advanced beyond anyone’s imagination and we have no idea just what all those satellites circling the earth are really capable of. Are Chem trails turning the sky into a global projection screen ? And they will also use this to explain away the disappearance of all the people when the rapture happens through a false alien invasion. Ya I know it sound really out there and I to was extreamly scheptical but after years of following this and seeing the progress of holographics that they allow us to see from time to time I have no doubt that they can make us see anything they want us to see a and we will swear on a stack of bible that it was real. Every now and then they slip up just like they did with the DEWs Direct Energy Wepons they were using to start fires in California and Greece. The most telling picture I saw of this was a house in CA that looked like it was cut in half with a knife. One side of the house burned to the ground the other side of the house was virtually untouched by fire and none of the trees grass or shrubs were burned???? And this was caused by a wild fire????? Oh ya the deception during the tribulation is going to be mind blowing and many will be deceived. Let’s pray that the seeds we plant today will take root in this that are left behind and save them from v
    Being deceived. Well that just took off on me I think I will shut up right here.

    We ARE another day closer to home
    Grace mercy and peace on you and yours
    God bless my friends we fly soon

    • Thursday, July 18th, 2019 at 12:57 pm

      Hello Gordon,

      I have been a dedicated reader of Charlie’s Scripture commentaries since Hebrews 1:1 and have thus read all of the reader comments (and submitted my own), including yours.

      A number of times you have claimed “auto fingers” as the source of your comments, implying what you write is out of your control.”

      Today you made this comment:

      “I have questioned many times what I write for comments but I leave it in the hands of the lord to guide the ones that need to read it to the comments he gives me. Ya I know for sure they are not coming from me as I am pretty much amazed by them when I read them to myself!”

      This indicates that you believe the comments you type here are coming directly from the Lord and not from you. If they are indeed from the Lord that would mean they would not contain any error, correct? As the Lord would not have you write anything that was not true or Biblical, right?

      May I humbly challenge you on a comment you posted on Monday July 8th. You wrote:

      “Yes commit break just one law and we are guilty of them all even the most unthinkable ones. We pay our taxes to the government ant they in turn take our money and fund abortions.
      Willing or not we are partisapents in murder. We know what it would take for us to refuse to pay taxes for this and well that is something we all have to deal with in our own way. This is just an example of how were break the laws knowingly and unknowingly showing it is impossible for us to follow the laws as written.

      You (or I guess you would say the Lord) are telling Christians that when we are obedient to God in faithfully paying our taxes, we are, at the same time, participating in the murder of babies.

      I must respectfully disagree. We are not responsible for what evil purposes our government uses our tax money to fund once it leaves our hands. That is out of our control and on their heads. Paul, in Romans 13 agrees with Jesus’ statements in Matt 22 about “rendering unto Caesar what is Cesar’s.” At that time, Rome was certainly not the picture of a moral government. Yet, Jesus commanded the people to pay their taxes.

      We are commanded to submit to our Government unless it tells US to DO something that goes against Scripture. Additionally, we DO have the responsibility when it comes to the voting booth. We are not to vote for candidates that hold or support a wicked agenda, such as the murder of babies.

      Please be oh so careful in what you attribute to coming directly to you from the Lord. Only The Superior Word is our Trustworthy, Sufficient, Authoritative source of Truth.

      Similarly, the claimed “Christian” mystic Sarah Young of the uber popular “Jesus Calling” franchise also claims “auto fingers.” She claims she writes down what the extra-biblical voice of Jesus tells her. Her books are full of error and false teaching. May I encourage you to do some research on the subject of “automatic writing” which is an occult practice.

      I’m not sure you will see my comments since this platform does not notify one of comments added nor does it give the option of sending a private message to another.

      Julie Harrod

      • Thursday, July 18th, 2019 at 4:06 pm

        Wow tough audience here?? When I talk about auto fingers all I am saying is my original intentions for comments were to be short and sweet nothing more. But after 5 or 10 minutes of writing and having non stop word in my head I just chalk it up to auto finger mode and sometime I have to go back and re read what I wrote for a better understanding. Yes I have learned thing I never expected to learn from some of my comments. I look at them and go OMG I get it now . If you want to accuse me of occult auto typing that is your privilege but myself I will take it as a blessing from the lord that he has a use for me and that I can be used through comments to help others. I wasn’t looking for it I never asked for it it just happened. But to throw me in with Occult crap is very disappointing from a fellow Superior word member. I don’t believe any of my comment here or any where else have any occult overtones to them. If anyone here sees this from me please let me know now. Maybe I am missing something and don’t realize it???

        As far as sin and taxes that is just my opinion nothing more! we knowingly pay taxes to the government knowing they are used to make Wepons of mass destruction, to fund medical procedures we don’t agree with or find reprehensible, our taxes are also used to fund grants for medical research, to keep the infrastructure of our country strong and sound to fund our military to keep us safe and all the services that keep America strong. As I see it the only way we can seperate our selves from the sins our tax money is used for is to stop paying taxes all together or get active in politics and change how our tax money is used. Like it or not I believe we share in the sins our tax money is used. Add to that we live in a state of sin every second of everyday and right now nothing is going to change that. But hey good news, Jesus has forgiven us all our sins past present and future. So we are not condemned by our tax money but we can try in some way to get more responsible use of our taxes from the people we vote into office

        I comment to share fellowship with other believers and sure I am not going to get it right every time but through comments I learn from and share what I know with others and this is what helps me to navigate around the potholes on the straight and narrow path to Jesus and not being perfect yet I do get tripped up in a pothole from time to time. I am going to leave it at that. No Auto Fingers were used in this comment …..ya just leave it at this Maranatha

        • Thursday, July 18th, 2019 at 5:33 pm

          Hello Gordon,

          Thank you for your reply. With all due respect I did not accuse you of occult auto typing nor did I say your comments had occult overtones to them. I was responding to the way you have expressed HOW you perceive your comments coming about: “comments he gives me” or “they are not coming from me.” I was suggesting how that might be mis-construed as sounding similar to what is known as “auto typing”. How we express ourselves matter, words matter. I am grateful to read your denouncement of such things and your clarification. Not all “professing” Christians do denounce such things, thus the example I gave.

          Regarding your opinion that we Christians are participating in murder when we pay our taxes…may not someone else on this forum take issue with your opinion? If done respectfully, that is how we help each other grow, and critically examine what we believe by the Word of
          God, is it not? Iron sharpens Iron.

          I have committed uncountable sins (and reaped the consequences) that I will not take personal responsibility for sins I have not committed. That is quite the burden you have put on yourself and others. I hope you will re-consider your opinion.

          Thanks for not being too hard on me. I get the sense that you could really let someone “have it” if you wanted to.

          Have a restful evening.

  • Thursday, July 18th, 2019 at 7:46 pm



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