You Can't Have One without the Other

Artwork for James: Hands-On Christianity

The blazing brand of the Reformation was “justification by faith!” Martin Luther was the passionate blacksmith who forged it out with his hammer of conviction on the anvil of Romans. Since his day, evangelical Christians have borne that mark and stood upon the principle that salvation is a faith-plus-nothing transaction. Especially helpful in heating the fire under this historical “brand” are such passages as Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9; and Titus 3:5. But the passage under consideration today in the letter of James seems to suggest a contradiction. We want to discover exactly what it says, how it fits into the theme of justification by faith…and then why it is important to us today. In reality, this section in Chapter 2 is the major message of the whole letter—in miniature form.