Study # 45
July 15, 1998
Harlingen, Texas

Thesis: James' insistence that the faith that saves is active is fundamental to the nature of what it means to believe. Introduction: Last week we reviewed the theological setting to which James addressed his letter. In that review we saw that one of the problems in the debate over faith and works is that some of the terms are not clearly defined. The greatest failure is in the terminology of legalism. In our study last week I argued that legalism goes far deeper than the presence or absence of "law". It goes far deeper than the claim that one must be obedient to this or that rule in order to be saved. The issue of legalism is the issue of where the ability comes from in the statements of necessity that are laid upon man. That necessity is laid upon man is inescapable simply because judgment will come upon every man. Becoming a believer in Christ does not remove us from judgment, though it does remove us from any judgment designed to establish the question of our freedom from condemnation. That we do, and shall, face judgment is without question. That our actions elicit a response from God and others in terms of benefits and pain is without question. Therefore, when we speak of grace and legalism, we simply must understand whereof we speak. Biblically, grace is the divine supply of the divinely imposed necessity. Legalism, on the other hand, is the demand that man produce of himself what is required by the divinely imposed necessity. Last week we also established the fact that there is a heirarchy of "necessities" established by the fact of God's immutable presence. This evening we are going to consider James' argument under the assumption that he knew what grace and legalism were.