#2 - Was Abraham justified by faith or works?
Answer: Abraham was justified by faith
He was justified, that is, made righteous, by works, consequent to his faith. So that James's justification by works is the fruit of Paul's justification by faith.
Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
Romans 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness.
Galatians 3:6 Just as Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness,
James 2:23 So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God's friend.
Genesis 12:1-4 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him:
1) The critic asks: Was he was justified by faith.
Romans 4:2: For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory.
Answer: Yes - he was justified by faith.
2) The critic asks: Was he was justified by works.
James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
His works were from the justification of His Faith (He believed God), For God asked him, and so he went to offer his son. Yet, he did not offer his son because God told him not to.
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
Response by Dave Marr Dan of Israel
The skeptics give these two verses:
"For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory." Romans 4:2
"Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?" James 2:21
The important distinction to make is that faith and works are both important in the relationship of a believer to God the Father through Jesus Christ. Paul and James are speaking to two completely different groups: one that focused on works to be saved, and the other who thought only a profession of faith was enough.
Paul was addressing believers who thought that by keeping the whole of the Judaic Law, they would earn their salvation. The previous chapter, specifically Romans 3:27, clarifies the attitude of some of these believers when he reproves them:
"Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay; but by the law of faith."
Paul follows it with this conclusion:
"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." Romans 3:28This is the heart of the matter: a person's faith in God is ultimately what saves him/her, not the works themselves, or a mentality only focused on works. Yet, James is saying that a true faith will have works flowing from it by God's transforming power:
"What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? ... Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew you my faith by my works. ... Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only[i.e., works that stem from faith]." James 2:14, 17, 18, 24In essence: due to the believer's relationship with Jesus Christ, they desire to do good works out of love to God, not by a compulsion of fear of the Law(which was a problem with the group in Romans). As Jesus says of His future Heavenly Kingdom:
"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40Summarily, the faith by grace will save the person, but the works from a pure heart will be a natural outpouring of the Christian's love.