Skip to main content

James 2:21: Was Not Abraham Our Father Justified By Works


James 2:21
[21] Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? (ESV)

What would you be willing to sacrifice to prove that your faith in God was genuine? Perhaps you would be willing to make a large monetary donation to your local church. Maybe you would be willing to travel to a foreign country for a missions work. How about sacrificing your first born to the Lord? That sounds severe, doesn't it?

There is an account in the Old Testament where Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac to the Lord. This is one of the most difficult sections of Scripture to read. We know that God was very much against child sacrifice. In fact, the judgment of God was against all the Canaanite nations who practiced child sacrifice to their false gods. Let's look briefly at the account in Genesis:

Genesis 22:1–2
[1] After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” [2] He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (ESV)

This was a test. God had in mind from the beginning that there would be a lamb provided in place of Isaac. Yet, Abraham did not know that. We find in this story that Abraham responded obediently and began the journey with his son. I have no question that Abraham would have sacrificed his son if that is what God wanted. So great was his love and devotion to the Lord.

This fact of Abraham's genuine faith helps us to explain this passage today in James 2:21. The works that Abraham offered did not save Abraham or make him righteous. Rather, as the text in Genesis 22 tells us the work of obedience that Abraham offered in being willing to sacrifice his son proved that he passed the test that God gave him. So, how was Abraham made righteous? By works?

Genesis 15:6
[6] And he (Abraham)  believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. (ESV)

You are declared righteous by believing the Lord. That is saving faith. The genuineness of that faith can surely be tested. Will you pass the test?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Romans 8:18: For I Consider That The Sufferings Of This Present Time Are Not Worth Comparing

Romans 8:18
[18] For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (ESV)

Perspective. What an important word. Let's be honest. We do not like the idea of suffering. We will do almost anything to avoid any kind of suffering. Some churches have gone so far as to preach against the idea of suffering, declaring it to not be a part of the true believer's life. Paul is not shy about the topic.

Paul uses the sufferings of this present time as a means to consider the greater glory that awaits us. Perspective. Paul is not in any way attempting to diminish our suffering. A view toward eternity puts our suffering in a proper understanding. Yes, our suffering is terrible. In the grand scheme of eternity it is not even worth comparison.

Maybe you are thinking that Paul does not know what he is talking about when it comes to suffering. In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul describes countless beatings, often near death, being ston…

Romans 15:14: I Myself Am Satisfied About You, My Brothers

Romans 15:14
[14] I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. (ESV)

The Apostle Paul was a strong man. His words to the churches in all of his letters are full of doctrinal truth and instruction that are not for the faint of heart. In this letter to the church at Rome he had to correct them in their understanding of how to deal with issues that could potentially divide them. Paul had never even been to Rome yet. He had not met these believers.

Paul is telling the church at Rome in this verse that the reason they were able to receive his strong words was because of their spiritual maturity. He declares that they are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. This is an incredible compliment that Paul would not offer to every church.

This concept of being filled with goodness and knowledge speaks of a group of believers who had listened to the Word of…

Romans 15:16: To Be A Minister Of Christ Jesus To The Gentiles In The Priestly Service Of The Gospel Of God

Romans 15:16
[16] to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. (ESV)

The time of the Early Church was a time of great transition. Up until Christ coming and bringing redemption to all who believer the people of faith were the Jews. If you wanted to worship God the only appropriate way was to go through a priest who would offer sacrifices on your behalf to God. All of the sacrificial system was fulfilled in Christ. Now, there was a new way to righteousness.

This time of transition was a challenge for all involved. The Jews had to move from an approach to God that involved keeping the Law. The Law was fulfilled in Christ. Now the way of salvation was a way of faith. There were some traditional aspects that were now gone. It was hard for them to move away from their traditions. It is hard for all of us to move from our traditions.

For the Gentile convert…