Is Faith Without Works Really Dead?

Is Faith Without Works Really Dead?

After teaching heavily on Grace and how the believers are justified by faith only and not by works, people still ask questions like: ‘…but the Bible says faith without works is dead…how then could you say we are justified by faith only and not without works’?

Are you also eager to find an answer to this question? Let’s dive right in! Let me first of all show you from scriptures beyond any shadow or doubt that your justification is simply by faith and not by works!

‘Therefore being JUSTIFIED BY FAITH…we have peace with God’! (Romans 5:1)

‘For by Grace are ye saved through FAITH…not of WORKS…’! (Eph. 2:8-9)

‘And if by Grace, it is no longer of works…else Grace is no longer Grace’! (Romans 11:6)

‘Therefore we conclude that a man is JUSTIFIED BY FAITH WITHOUT THE DEEDS (works) of the Law’! (Romans 3:28)


‘But to him that WORKETH NOT…but BELIEVETH on Him that justifieth the UNGODLY, his faith is counted for righteousness’! (Romans 4:5)

‘Knowing that a man is NOT justified by the WORKS of the Law, but by the FAITH OF Jesus CHRIST…’! (Gal 2:16)

I could go on and on….!!!

‘And by Him (Jesus), ALL THAT BELIEVE…are justified from ALL things…from which ye could NOT be justified by the Law (works) of Moses’! (Acts 13:39)

I want to believe at this juncture, you are persuaded beyond any shadow of doubt that your justification is only by FAITH in Jesus finished work and not by works! Now the big question: why then did James say: ‘FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD’! (James 2:26)

Now listen carefully: James was not by ANY means contradicting the Truth that Justification is totally by faith and not by works. James was referring to JUSTIFICATION BEFORE MEN! He was not referring to JUSTIFICATION BEFORE GOD!

The totality of James 2:14-26 was referring to justification before MEN and not justification before God.  For example, James cited an example of Abraham and concluded thus:

‘Ye see then how that by works a man is JUSTIFIED, and not by faith only’! (James 2:24)

Wow! That seems contradictory. No! Not at all. According to RWP (Robertson Word Pictures) commentaries, the sentence ‘…is justified…’ which James quoted in the verse above, is in the PRESENT PASSIVE INDICATIVE! It does not refer to ‘…is made righteous…’ but it refers to ‘…is SHOWN to be righteous…’!

When Paul talked about Abraham’s justification, he said: ‘For if Abraham were JUSTIFIED BY WORKS, he hath whereof to glory; BUT NOT BEFORE GOD’! (Romans 4:2)

Oh! Did you see that? Any form of justification by works…is not a justification BEFORE God. It is simply a justification before MEN. I really hope you are getting this.

See, there are 2 examples James used to explain Faith without works is dead. First is Abraham.

‘Was not Abraham our father justified by works, WHEN HE HAD OFFERED ISAAC HIS SON ON THE ALTAR’? (James 2:21)

Wow! Listen: This was not when God justified Abraham! According to the book of Genesis, Abraham was JUSTIFIED by FAITH when he BELIEVED God’s promise that in his SEED (Jesus through the lineage of Isaac) shall all the nations be blessed! (Gal 3:5-8)

‘And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for RIGHTEOUSNESS’! (Gen. 15:6)

That was when God justified Abraham! It was only made EVIDENT BEFORE MEN when God asked Abraham to offer Isaac on the Altar. This is because Abraham BELIEVED that GOD was able to raise Isaac even from the dead…since God had promised that in HIS SEED (Jesus through the lineage of Isaac) shall all the nations be blessed! (I just explained Hebrews 11:17-19) This was forty years after he was ALREADY justified by Faith!!!

Do you now understand what James was referring to as justified by works? Another example James used was Rahab the HARLOT! Like seriously? A harlot?

‘Was not Rahab the HARLOT justified by works…when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? (James 2:25)

Wow! (Notice that James did not remove the word “harlot” from Rahab’s name here…and that’s on point because Rahab was indeed still a “harlot” WHEN SHE WAS JUSTIFIED according to James explanation). Interestingly, this scenario was not the time Rahab was justified BEFORE GOD! According to the book of Joshua chapter 2, Rahab said to the spies:

‘I KNOW that THE LORD…hath given you the LAND….for WE HAVE HEARD how the LORD dried up the water…FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD, HE IS GOD IN HEAVEN ABOVE AND IN EARTH BENEATH’! (Joshua 2:9-11)

Wow! She called God…LORD. She had BELIEVED in God long before Joshua sent the 2 spies to check out Jericho. Her justification before God was simply by faith and not by anything she did! That’s why she has this record in the book of Hebrews:

‘By FAITH….the HARLOT Rahab perished not with them that BELIEVED NOT…’! (Hebrews 11:31)

Did you see that? It was her faith that has justified her before GOD long before the example James quoted as why she was justified by works before MEN! Please understand that James was not referring to JUSTIFICATION UNTO SALVATION! He was only referring to the fact that if truly you are a believer, you will be instrumental to God BEFORE MEN that will make men believe that you are a believer in God. This might not be immediate.

In the case of Abraham, it took forty years to prove it! In the case of Rahab, it also took about forty years! (For Rahab had believed God since she heard of the Exodus of the Children of Israel)! Do you now understand?

Hear this: If the justification by works which James referred to is for the SALVATION of men, then James had just used to ‘bad’ examples! First, Abraham was about to KILL son! The Law says: ‘thou shalt not KILL’! (Exo 20:13) Oh! Oh! Second, Rahab was a Harlot, and she also lied that she did not know where the spies were! The Law says: ‘thou shalt not commit adultery’! (Exo 20:14) The Law also says: ‘thou shalt not bear false witness…’! (Exo 20:16) Rahab has broken these 2 commandments swiftly! Definitely, James was not referring to justification by works unto the SALVATION of men! In Conclusion: I’ll like to conclude in a way that Paul would have concluded if he was the one writing this post!

‘Therefore we CONCLUDE that a man is JUSTIFIED BY FAITH WITHOUT THE DEEDS (works) of the Law’! (Romans 3:28)

Or you can allow the Message Bible do justice to this verse:

“…We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade…” (Romans 3:28 MSG)

That was Paul’s conclusion. That is my conclusion. I hope that’s your conclusion too! I’ll be glad to know.


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