Our family (Erick and Amber, Mike and Steph, and Kaitie in
Virginia and Rick and I in Florida) has been having a running discussion on the Faith vs. Works issue. That makes us sound spiritual, doesn’t it? Usually we only have running discussions on the Eagles or the Phillies or something equally vital. 🙂 But anyway, while no one would claim that we are saved by anything other than faith–we were discussing the role of “works” in our sanctification. We kind of had the same faith vs. works issues that were common in the early church (I learned).
Were Paul and James at odds when James said that “faith without works is dead” and Paul said “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith?” We kind of had that argument…a little bit.
So, my teacher in my New Testament Survey class (Dr. Gary Stanley) made this excellent point and I love this simple explanation to a hard question:
The justification of a believer in the eyes of God is by faith.
The justification of a believer in the eyes of the world is by works.
What makes us right before God is our faith. What demonstrates our faith before men is our works.
No reconciliation is necessary between Paul and James, but both are necessary!