Summary: Faith without works is dead so living faith must produce righteous works.
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Pastor James May
The Works of Faith
James 2:16 (quickview)  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
In the church world of today there isn’t much said about works except to try to downplay their importance in the plan of salvation. We often hear the words, “not by works lest any man should boast” quoted from the scripture and justly so. For our works do not carry with them an ability to purchase our salvation. But these words should never be quoted in an effort to justify those who are idle in the church. I believe that James is telling us that works are as essential to a healthy Christian life as oxygen is to the natural body.
What kind of a church would we be without works?
How could we show the love of Jesus to other people without works?
How can the gospel be preached to a lost and dying world without works?
The question is asked: how can justification take place without the works of the law, even though James says: "Faith without works is dead"?
In answer, Paul distinguishes between the law and faith, the letter and grace.
The ’works of the law’ are works done without faith and grace, by the law, which forces them to be done through fear or the enticing promise of temporal advantages.
But ’works of faith’ are those done in the spirit of liberty, purely out of love to God, and they can be done only by those who are justified by faith. Paul does not say that faith is without its characteristic works, but that it justifies without the works of the law.
Therefore justification does not require the works of the law; but it does require a living faith, which performs its work.