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You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. (James 2:24)
James just took us through one of the most notable faithful servants of God that have allowed us to see that saying one has faith only, having no works, is useless and empty. Such a person is not justified, and God would never declare that person righteous as he had Abraham. If any Christian claimed that he is saved and lives by the Word of God and yet never had any actions that would validate those claims, those claims would be false. If they claimed that they were doing the will of the Father (Matt. 7:21-23) and yet made no effort to proclaim God’s Word, make disciples, those claims would be without merit. If they claimed that they loved their neighbor but never did anything to help anyone, what worth would their faith be? If they claimed that they were born-again, saved Christians, and yet there were no fundamental visible changes in their lives, such claims would be invalid.
We might be able to fool man, but God can read our hearts. He knows if our faith claims are genuine or not. Thus, a faith that does not result in good works is simply uncertain or unsubstantiated. A person with such “faith” could never be taken as true by God. God would have known such faith was false before the person was ever introduced to Christ. God would never declare such a person righteous because he would foreknow this beforehand. He would watch this imaginary faith as it produces no good works. So, justification takes place as God watches from heaven, by faith, as he sees that the faith is truly genuine, for he observes it producing good works if the claimant who exercises faith. And so, God justifies such ones based on that faith and of no other. A person is not justified by an aloof, indifferent, generic, defective faith. As God observes us, he knows if our faith claims are simply speculative, unresponsive, and dead. He knows long before that they would never result in good works. Thus, he would never justify such faith in his sight. – Galatians 1:15; Genesis 25:23; Luke 1:15-17; Jeremiah 1:5.
In fact, it is only genuine, true, real faith that produces good works, which are then justified. The good works are the precise result of the kind of faith, which was foreseen by God the moment anyone is introduced to Christ, as the assured result of faith, and actually acted out as seen by men, and is essential for justification to take place. Now we have spoken at length of God’s foreknowledge of our faithfulness or lack thereof. So, let’s clear up any misunderstanding about God’s foreknowledge by summarizing Dr. William Craig’s arguments. God knows in advance what choice people will freely make. The free decisions of human beings determine what foreknowledge God has of them, as opposed to the reverse. The foreknowledge does not determine the free decision; it is the free decisions that determine the foreknowledge. Thus, God’s knowledge is chronologically before the event that he foreknows. However, logically speaking, the event is before God’s foreknowledge. In other words, the event does not happen because God foreknows it, but God foreknows the event because it will happen. The event is logically prior to the foreknowledge, so he foreknows it because it will happen, even though the foreknowledge is chronologically before the event. We can see foreknowledge on this as the foreshadowing of something. When you see the shadow of someone coming around the corner of the building, you see their shadow on the ground before you see the person. You know that person is about to come around the corner because of their shadow, but the shadow does not determine the person. The person determines the shadow.
God’s foreknowledge is like the foreshadowing of a future event. By seeing this foreshadowing, you know the events will happen, But the shadow does not determine the reality. The reality determines the shadow. Therefore, we should think of God’s foreknowledge as the foreshadowing of things to come. Therefore, just because God will know something will happen, this does not prejudice or remove the freedom of that happening. In fact, if the events were to happen differently, God’s foreknowledge would be different as well. An illustration of this is, as an infallible barometer of the weather. Whatever the barometer says because it is infallible, you know what the weather will be like. However, the barometer does not determine the weather; the weather determines the barometer’s findings. Thus, God’s foreknowledge is like an infallible barometer of the future. It lets him know what the future is going to be, but it does not constrain the future in any way. The future is going to happen anyway the free moral agent wants it to happen. However, the barometer is going to track whatever direction the future will take. So, if you discover that you are a faith-only person who lacks works and is troubled that God foreknew this, change his foreknowledge as to the outcome by acquiring genuine faith.
Abraham’s beliefs and actions were working together in real, genuine faith, and Abraham became a friend of God. James reaffirms the argument that he has been making by saying, you see. James wants his readers to have a focused view of what he has been talking about regarding faith and action. Abraham served us as the perfect example that faith is justified when accompanied by works. As a result, these Jews would have a hard time arguing against their forefather. Faith and works must go together, they are inseparably linked, and we cannot have one without the other. For this reason, as James says, a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.