39 Question 3

James wrote about this subject in his epistle.  James was not one of the twelve apostles.  That James was killed earlier as we read in Acts 12:1-2, “Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.  And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.”  It is generally accepted that the author of the epistle of James, was the half-brother of the Lord Jesus.  Matthew 13:55 says, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?”  It is also understood that Judas, the half-brother of the Lord Jesus wrote the book of Jude.

James wrote in James 2:18-20, “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”  James wrote from the practical perspective that if one truly has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, it will be shown in his works.  He raises the issue: can you show your faith without any works?  He states that he will show you his faith by his works, or by way he lives for the Lord.

Does the Lord know who is saved?  Of course He does?  2 Timothy 2:19 tells us, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”  The Lord definitely knows every saved person.  The Lord Jesus, Himself, said in John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

Do you and I know who is saved?  No, we don’t.  We can’t see the heart like the Lord can.  We can listen to a person’s testimony and watch his lifestyle, and determine that he may be saved by showing a clear understanding of how we become saved, but only the Lord truly knows who is truly saved.  The Lord warns us in Matthew 7:15-16, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.”  We can make a determination about someone’s salvation by the things they do; by their works.  We know them by the fruit they bear.  So, if a person has no works, or has no fruit; what does that mean?  Faith that does not produce works that honor the Lord is no faith at all.  It is dead.  True faith is alive, as we read in 1 Peter 1:3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

Do our works produce salvation?  Absolutely not!  Ephesians 2:8-9 is quite clear about this.  It says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Well then, does salvation produce good works?  Absolutely yes!  Ephesians 2:10 is also quite clear about this.  It says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

In his epistle, James is speaking from an earthly perspective.  We can’t know the heart, only the Lord can.  But, we can look at the works and see if they are the works of someone who has truly accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior.  What is one work, or one sign, that is a sure indication that one is truly saved?  The Lord Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”  Great works are not necessarily doing great and magnificent things.  A great work is simply exhibiting the love of the Lord to each other.  Of that love, the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:9, “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.”  When we are true believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, we don’t even need to be taught to love one another, the Lord, by His indwelling Spirit has taught us to love one another.  That is one work that will show that you have living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.