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Thread: A Contradiction in Romans vs. James?

  1. #1
    blitzkreig Guest

    Question A Contradiction in Romans vs. James?

    From the 'Study on Romans' ... by CR Stam

    A CONTRADICTION Romans vs. James?


    In Rom. 4:3-5 Paul clearly declares that men are justified by faith alone, without
    works, but James 2:24 states with equal clarity:

    "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

    Are these statements actually contradictory, or only apparently so? Let us see.

    It has been explained that the recurrence of the words "ye see," in James'
    argument, indicates that he refers to proof before men that those who profess
    justifying faith actually have it. But Abraham did not offer Isaac before men, nor
    does this argument explain how men are justified by works, as James 2:24
    states. Surely both Romans 4 and James 2 refer to justification by God, but one
    says that this is received by faith only while the other says it is gained “by works,
    and not by faith only."

    We believe that the answer to this seeming contradiction is a dispensational
    one, and with this in view let us note several background comparisons:

    The writer in the first place is Paul; in the second place it is James. Paul
    addresses Gentiles (Rom. 11:13), while James writes to "the twelve tribes [of
    Israel] which are scattered abroad" (Jas. 1:1). Paul deals with Abraham before
    his circumcision; James deals with him after his circumcision (as the father of the
    Hebrew race). Paul quotes from Gen. 15:6 to prove his point; James cites Gen.
    22:1-18. Paul mentions only Abraham's acceptance of the good news
    concerning his seed (Gen. 15:4-6); James deals with his faith in a severe test
    (Gen. 22:16-18). These are significant differences.
    With these differences in view we quote from one of our former writings:

    "Faith [will] most assuredly approach God in God's way at any time, and to
    seek to gain acceptance with Him in any other way would, of course, be
    unbelief and self-will. Thus, while works never did or could save as such,
    they did once save as expressions of faith."

    "When God says, 'Offer an animal in sacrifice and I will accept you,' what will
    faith do? Faith will offer an animal in sacrifice, of course. Abel did this and
    was accepted, not because the blood of beasts can take away sins, but
    because he approached God in God's way. This is 'the obedience of faith.'
    "In the case of Cain we have a clear indication that God is not satisfied with
    mere works as such, for Cain offered a more attractive-looking sacrifice than
    Abel, but was rejected because he did not bring the sacrifice which God had
    required (Gen. 4:5).

    "When God says, 'Build an ark and I will save you and yours from the flood,'
    what will faith do? Faith will build an ark, of course. And when Noah did this
    he showed his faith in God and 'became an heir of the righteousness which is
    by faith.'

    "When God says, 'Obey My voice indeed and you will be Mine,' what will
    faith do? Faith will try earnestly to obey. You say: But they could not obey
    perfectly, therefore would be rejected by God. We reply that we have already
    proved that works in themselves cannot save. It was only as Israelites
    recognized the Law as the Word of God to them and therefore sought to obey
    it that they were saved. Such an effort to keep the Law represented 'the
    obedience of faith.'

    "When God says, 'Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins,' what
    will faith do? Just one thing: repent and be baptized. We know that oceans
    of water cannot wash away one sin, yet when John the Baptist and Peter
    preached repentance and baptism for remission, not one of their hearers
    would have interpreted their words to mean: 'Trust in the death of Christ for
    salvation.' Indeed, when God required water baptism for salvation the only
    way to manifest faith was to be baptized, and those who refused to do so were
    condemned for their unbelief:

    "But the Pharisees and lawyers REJECTED THE COUNSEL OF GOD
    AGAINST THEMSELVES, BEING NOT BAPTIZED OF HIM" (Luke 7:30).

    "But when God says, 'BUT NOW the righteousness of God without the law is
    manifested' (Rom. 3:21); "To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that
    justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness' (Rom. 4:5) .... what
    will faith do? Faith will say, 'This is the most wonderful offer ever made by God
    to man. I cannot refuse it. I will trust Christ as my Savior and accept salvation
    as the free gift of God's grace' " (Things That Differ, Pp. 22,42,43).

    This we believe is the answer to the seeming contradiction between Romans
    4:5 and James 2:24. The Epistle of James will fit into God's dispensational plan
    just where it is found in the canon of Scripture: after the Pauline dispensation.

    When "the dispensation of the grace of God" has run its course God will again
    begin dealing with "the twelve tribes of Israel," now "scattered abroad." In that
    day the "gospel of the kingdom" will again be proclaimed (Matt. 24:14) and
    works will again be included in the terms of salvation as they were when our
    Lord was on earth (Mark 1:4; Luke 7:29,30; 18:18-22; et al). Does this mean
    that works will be efficacious in themselves? No. They will avail only as the
    expression and evidence of faith as, indeed, James clearly teaches (Jas. 2:18-
    26).

    (The author of this piece is Cornelius Stam whose brother and sister-in-law were Missionaries in China in the 1930s and were murdered for their faith ...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_...and_Betty_Stam )

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by blitzkreig View Post
    A CONTRADICTION Romans vs. James?
    No, no contradiction. As Paul states in Acts:

    Acts 26:19-21
    19Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: 20But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
    The simple explanation is that given sufficient time, faith will indeed bring forth works which are in line with repentance. It can be no other way. Faith which does not, is no faith at all, it is a dead faith, if indeed it could even be called a form of "faith." I don't really see a need for claiming James spoke from some other dispensation than the one he was in, the dispensation of grace, its incorrect to think of it in that way. The best analogy we see today is someone saying a magical prayer, and never to think of the Lord again. Is that saving faith? Turning to God in faith has meaning, it will lead to some manner of action, thus demonstrating it is genuine. Even the thief on the cross demonstrated his faith by declaring Christ innocent, and claiming Him Messiah, with a coming kingdom.
    Don't panic! Just be Rapture Ready.

    Joel 3:2

    I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.

  3. #3
    Robert Guest

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    Paul and James were speaking about two sides of the same coin. Paul's point was that works don't save you, only faith. Jame's point was that when we are saved, or lives will have works as a type of evidence.

    Paul also points this out in Ephesians 2:10:

    "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them".

    A changed life will at some point demonstrate the change, which is James' point. Paul's is that works don't "get us to the game"; only Christ's precious blood can do that.

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    John 14:23 says that if a person loves Jesus he will keep His words. The works flow from loving God. We can not love God and then set our minds to disobey Him. The works are from God and not from ourselves; Jesus only did what the Father told Him to do and spoke only what the Father told him to say; He did not come up with a program on His own. If two people love each other they will work for each other but it is not the works that brought or bought the love. We can not buy God's love by our works for God already loved us even while we were His enemies (Romans 5:8-10) but when we accept God's love and salvation He gives us His Holy Spirit through whom He works in us and through us Philippians 2:13. Good deeds are not the work of God but believing in Christ and loving our neighbor as ourself. Love that does not produce a response to someone's needs is not love James 2:15-16.

  5. #5
    WarriorOfGod Guest

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    The Bible doesn't contradict itself. We're justified by faith alone and "works" is just to show people that we're true Christians by true saving faith or our profession of faith proven to be false faith. James is not talking about justified before God (by faith), but justified before men (our works or fruits). Men judge us from the outside (our works), not God since He knows our hearts.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by WarriorOfGod View Post
    The Bible doesn't contradict itself. We're justified by faith alone and "works" is just to show people that we're true Christians by true saving faith or our profession of faith proven to be false faith. James is not talking about justified before God (by faith), but justified before men (our works or fruits). Men judge us from the outside (our works), not God since He knows our hearts.
    Good points, very true. It is not works, else it would no longer be grace.

    Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
    Don't panic! Just be Rapture Ready.

    Joel 3:2

    I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WarriorOfGod View Post
    The Bible doesn't contradict itself. We're justified by faith alone and "works" is just to show people that we're true Christians by true saving faith or our profession of faith proven to be false faith. James is not talking about justified before God (by faith), but justified before men (our works or fruits). Men judge us from the outside (our works), not God since He knows our hearts.
    If what you mean by this that our works are the witness of our faith so that men may see what we do and understand the nature of our God, that is true, as we are all a reflection of the God (or god) that we serve. But it doesn't matter if others think our faith is true or false. It doesn't matter even what fellow Christians think of us as Paul stated in 1 Corinthians.
    1Co 4:3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.
    1Co 4:4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.


    Justification is only the beginning. There is a whole life to be lived and a new creation to be born. Our works are a blessing to us. It is by our works and the fruit thereof that we examine ourselves
    James 1:25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

    It is by works that we know within ourselves that we belong to God.
    1Jn 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
    1Jn 3:17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
    1Jn 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
    1Jn 3:19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence
    1Jn 3:20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.


    What Jame is talking about when he contrast living faith and dead faith is the same thing our Lord was talking about in Matthew 7.
    Mat 7:24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
    Mat 7:25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
    Mat 7:26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
    Mat 7:27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."


    The man who heard the Word and lived by it held strong against the storms of life and grew in his faith and love. A living faith is a growing faith. The faith of the man who did not live by the word that he heard fell every time the wind blew. These are those who are never content. They never know God intimately. They never come to know who He is (His nature) They spend their lives as Christians but never grow. They never taste. They never see that the Lord is Good.
    Think Heavenly
    Act Locally

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paidfor View Post
    Justification is only the beginning.
    Is it not also the end of the matter, in regards to salvation?
    Don't panic! Just be Rapture Ready.

    Joel 3:2

    I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by HeIsEnough View Post
    Is it not also the end of the matter, in regards to salvation?
    I think that this all needs to be seen from God's perspective which is without regard to time. Justification means that we enter into Christ and receive the Holy Spirit and are sealed. But if that is salvation then what does this mean?
    Php 2:12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
    Why does our salvation require working out? I think it is more accurate (from our POV) to say that we are being saved. Although from God's POV, we are saved.

    What is Paul talking about here?
    1Co 9:26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;
    1Co 9:27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
    Judging from the whole of his writings, Paul is not saying that he is not secure in where he will spend eternity, that is clear. So there is something more, which I believe to be Christian maturity. This was a theme that Paul established early in 1 Corinthians.
    1Co 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.
    1Co 3:2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,


    Our salvation is sealed at the point of justification, but it is not complete. When the egg is fertilized, life begins, but...there's more. The same is true of spiritual birth.
    Think Heavenly
    Act Locally

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paidfor View Post
    Our salvation is sealed at the point of justification, but it is not complete.
    Sanctification, growth, maturity, these are not done, I would agree. I referenced only salvation though.

    A lot of times, conversations flow into the life of a believer. We all know many things will and must happen after salvation, I'm attempting to stay focused right on the cusp, the very moment it happens.
    Don't panic! Just be Rapture Ready.

    Joel 3:2

    I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.

  11. #11
    God's Trombone Guest

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    Ephesians 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

    Forgive me but I suggest this thread displays something of what Paul spoke of in this verse; in other words, "every wind of doctrine" is being put forth and Paul's intent is lost by most.

    When Paul speaks of "works" as in Rom. 11:6 etc. he is contrasting "his gospel" (Rom. 16:25)[not prophesied] with
    the former way[prophesied way] God provided for man to reach salvation, i.e., through Israel and the law.

  12. #12
    Jesuschangesall Guest

    Default If works.....

    IF WORKS could SAVE anybody JESUS WOULD HAVE DIED IN VAIN!
    Man.....humans are soooooooooo PROUD and BOASTFUL.....
    SALVATION IS A GIFT...but TOOK THE PRECIOUS LIFE of JESUS to PURCHASE IT.....
    GRACE and FAITH,no works.......

  13. #13
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    Paul's use of the word justification means "right standing before God". James' use of the word justification means "proof before men".

  14. #14
    WarriorOfGod Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jesuschangesall View Post
    IF WORKS could SAVE anybody JESUS WOULD HAVE DIED IN VAIN!
    Man.....humans are soooooooooo PROUD and BOASTFUL.....
    SALVATION IS A GIFT...but TOOK THE PRECIOUS LIFE of JESUS to PURCHASE IT.....
    GRACE and FAITH,no works.......


    To support that we're saved by faith plus works, deny eternal security and loss of salvation DISHONOR the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we were saved by faith plus works, or we deny eternal security, then there would be two saviors--Jesus and ourselves. If we are saved by faith PLUS works, we are NOT truly saved at all, because we are NOT FULLY trusting in Jesus to save us, we are trusting in our works instead to keep salvation which is not a free gift at all. Salvation is a free gift, nothing we can do to earn it, except by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.

  15. #15
    WarriorOfGod Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shonsu View Post
    Paul's use of the word justification means "right standing before God". James' use of the word justification means "proof before men".

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by God's Trombone View Post
    Ephesians 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

    Forgive me but I suggest this thread displays something of what Paul spoke of in this verse; in other words, "every wind of doctrine" is being put forth and Paul's intent is lost by most.

    When Paul speaks of "works" as in Rom. 11:6 etc. he is contrasting "his gospel" (Rom. 16:25)[not prophesied] with
    the former way[prophesied way] God provided for man to reach salvation, i.e., through Israel and the law.
    That is what the Judaizers would say. The law condemns us, Only Jesus can save us



    Revelation 22:17a The Spirit and Bride are now saying, "Come!" The ones who hear are now saying, "Come!" The ones who thirst are now saying, "Come!" so come LORD Jesus !
    Buzzardhut.net |The Watch Parables | The Rapture | Romans | The Virgin Mary | Roman Catholicism
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzzardhut View Post
    That is what the Judaizers would say. The law condemns us, Only Jesus can save us


    Hello, entire book of Galatians.
    There is One King, and He is not this guy.

  18. #18
    blitzkreig Guest

    Eyes

    There is a dispensational "divide" between Paul and James.

    Theologians such as Fruchtenbaum often call the books after Paul's prison epistles the "Messianic Jewish Epistles" which are literally written to the 12 Tribes of the Diaspora.

    Although all scripture is for instruction and to our profit ... not all of it is written as instructions to us for action of our feet. (that is why we don't stone someone working on the Sabbath today ...)

    A "key" or "primer" is for us to prayerfully consider the salutation written in the book itself ... and to consider reading literally and without the presupposition of hundreds of well meaning Sunday School lessons one has taken ... but which failed to lay out "God's Plan of the Ages" ... as the topic is a little tough to get across to us when we were kids.

    Jam 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
    When you use the dispensational "lens" to examine Scripture it becomes clearer that some of the books of the Bible were written as "time release" capsules. For the clear understanding of those who came hundreds or even thousands of years after.

    Just as Adam and Eve could not have understood Genesis 3:15 where to you and I it seems perfectly clear.

    Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
    This is clearly our Lord Jesus ...

    Anyone interested should search out some of the dispensational material on the Rapture Ready website home page http://www.raptureready.com/.

    Most pre-tribulation authors have a "dispensational understanding" or they wouldn't be "Pre-Trib" (whether or not they use the term). The two are inextricably linked as Pre-Trib folks believe the Rapture introduces a "new dispensation" ...

    0r just Google the term Dispensation and go from there.

    FWIW Paul tells us who are living in this Christian Dispensation that we do work not because of what James says in his book ... we work in recognition of the great Grace and Salvation which we have irrevocably been given us as Paul says.

    There will come a time in which James words, which are directed to those whose works ARE the evidence their great Salvation, ... and it will give them the great comfort at that time. Where today they aren't much for our comfort ... are they?

    To be clear ... their works don't bring about their Salvation but are evident there of. Just as the blood of bulls did not bring about the OT Saints Salvation ... the action of the Sacrifices was evidence of their great Faith in God and gave them comfort when they didn't have the presence of the Holy Spirit and the completed Bible to reflect upon.

    I'm sure that is all as clear as ... well ... "miry clay"

  19. #19
    Robert Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by blitzkreig View Post
    There is a dispensational "divide" between Paul and James.

    Theologians such as Fruchtenbaum often call the books after Paul's prison epistles the "Messianic Jewish Epistles" which are literally written to the 12 Tribes of the Diaspora.

    Although all scripture is for instruction and to our profit ... not all of it is written as instructions to us for action of our feet. (that is why we don't stone someone working on the Sabbath today ...)

    A "key" or "primer" is for us to prayerfully consider the salutation written in the book itself ... and to consider reading literally and without the presupposition of hundreds of well meaning Sunday School lessons one has taken ... but which failed to lay out "God's Plan of the Ages" ... as the topic is a little tough to get across to us when we were kids.



    When you use the dispensational "lens" to examine Scripture it becomes clearer that some of the books of the Bible were written as "time release" capsules. For the clear understanding of those who came hundreds or even thousands of years after.

    Just as Adam and Eve could not have understood Genesis 3:15 where to you and I it seems perfectly clear.



    This is clearly our Lord Jesus ...

    Anyone interested should search out some of the dispensational material on the Rapture Ready website home page http://www.raptureready.com/.

    Most pre-tribulation authors have a "dispensational understanding" or they wouldn't be "Pre-Trib" (whether or not they use the term). The two are inextricably linked as Pre-Trib folks believe the Rapture introduces a "new dispensation" ...

    0r just Google the term Dispensation and go from there.

    FWIW Paul tells us who are living in this Christian Dispensation that we do work not because of what James says in his book ... we work in recognition of the great Grace and Salvation which we have irrevocably been given us as Paul says.

    There will come a time in which James words, which are directed to those whose works ARE the evidence their great Salvation, ... and it will give them the great comfort at that time. Where today they aren't much for our comfort ... are they?

    To be clear ... their works don't bring about their Salvation but are evident there of. Just as the blood of bulls did not bring about the OT Saints Salvation ... the action of the Sacrifices was evidence of their great Faith in God and gave them comfort when they didn't have the presence of the Holy Spirit and the completed Bible to reflect upon.

    I'm sure that is all as clear as ... well ... "miry clay"
    Then explain Paul's words in Ephesians 2:10, which MIRROR James' own words:

    "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Ephesians 2:8-10, NASB, emphasis mine)

  20. #20
    blitzkreig Guest

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    Ever notice how until the Prison Epistles about the time of the end of the Acts period ... "Works" were mentioned in the tone of your "MUST" as if the fact of Salvation was conditional upon the works (James was one of the earliest NT Books written).

    After this time (end of Acts) Paul's tone changed to that of "Because of Grace" you NEED to do this or that. Or you shame the fact of Grace.

    It is a nuance most certainly, but the type I find very intriguing.

    It is as if it finally sunk into Paul. How breathtaking the fact of Grace truly is.

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