Luther hated the Book of James. He said: “Let us BANISH the epistle of James, for it is WORTHLESS”. And many pastors today also refuse to teach the many texts in the New Testament that clearly state we must be holy to be “approved” to enter heaven when we die.
James is no different. It just uses the word ‘works.’ But these aren’t works of the law. This is life in the Son — living according to the ‘law of freedom,’ ‘the royal law’: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
According to James, if we are not loving our neighbors as ourselves we are deluding our own hearts and our religion is worthless.
“Don’t be deceived, my beloved brothers.”
James on Salvation
(Selections from chapters 1 & 2)
2 Count it all JOY, my brothers, when you fall into various temptations, 3 knowing that the TESTING of your FAITH produces ENDURANCE. 4 Let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be PERFECT and COMPLETE, lacking in nothing. …
12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to those who love him. 13 Let no man say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God can’t be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each one is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin; and the sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my beloved brothers. …
21 Therefore, putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with humility the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not only hearers, deluding your own selves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he sees himself, and goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of freedom, and continues, not being a hearer who forgets, but a doer of the work, this man will be blessed in what he does.
26 If anyone among you thinks himself to be religious while he doesn’t bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 27 Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. …
8 However, if you fulfill the royal law, according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well. 9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin, being convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law, and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak, and so do, as men who are to be judged by a law of freedom. 13 For judgment is without mercy to him who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him? 15 And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you tells them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled;” and yet you didn’t give them the things the body needs, what good is it? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself.
18 Yes, a man will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also BELIEVE, and shudder. 20 But do you want to know, vain man, that faith apart from works is dead? 21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith worked with his works, and by works faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham BELIEVED God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness;” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that by works, a man is justified, and not only by faith. 25 In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works, in that she received the messengers, and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead.