In What Way is James Applying James 2:14-26 to His Audience?
In Ephesians 1:13 Paul wrote that the church was made up of people, who when they “heard the word of truth, the gospel of their salvation, believed in him, and were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” Clearly this passage is referring to how the church was converted. In 2 Thessalonians 1:10 he says something very similar. He talks about the day when Christ will return to earth “to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because his testimony among them was believed) in that day.” Again, he is referring to the way the church was converted and the resulting blessings that flow from their faith in Christ. In James 1:18, we see the same thing. James says, “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.” This passage again is clearly indicating the way the church was converted, and the result of that conversion. In all three instances, Paul and James refer to God’s work when a man humbly depends on the gospel message, and the results that follow. James 2:14-26 is quite different. James is not writing to explain how they were converted. He is not writing to establish a pattern for evangelism, or warning them that if they fail to continue in good works they will loose their salvation. James purpose is simple. He is saying that a man can say anything that wants to say about his supposed faith in Christ, but a fruitless profession of faith is worthless, and it cannot save him. His fruitless profession reveals that what he claims to be true about himself is really not true. James concern is not how someone is made right with God, but with what happens to a man’s life if he actually has been made right with God. His concern is the justification of a man’s supposed profession of faith. Our next section will examine the way that James uses the term to justify.