By Pastor John Bingham
James 2:21-23, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”
Abraham was the father of the nation of Israel and so the people of Israel highly venerated him and prided themselves that they were from his lineage. They believed it gave them great advantages and privileges with the Lord, and up to a certain point, that was true. It did not automatically make the right with God. The Bible teaches that we are all under sin, no matter if we are Jew or Gentile.
Romans 3:9-10, “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:”
Abraham’s faith was often a subject of conversation for the Jews, so it was natural for James to bring it up in his letter. James’ desire is to demonstrate that Abraham not only believed in word, but also in deed. His believing caused him to do things for the Lord. Abraham’s works exalted his faith. As James writes, he is looking at the effect that justification by faith has had on Abraham’s life.
Romans 4:2, “For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.”
While God can look on the heart of man and know if someone is saved or not, we only look on the outward manifestations of the Spirit’s transformation. The evidence of Abraham’s actions were seen in the works in his life. It is possible to have works without faith, but it is impossible to have true faith without works resulting.