Q. My question is from James 2:14-18 where it says you must have works with faith to be saved. This contradicts some of the other teachings that we acknowledge Jesus as our savior and believe that he died for our sins. And didn’t Jesus say belief in Him is the only thing God requires of us?
A. Yes. Jesus said that in John 6:28-29. But James 2:14-18 does not say you must have works with faith to be saved. The Bible is clear in saying that salvation is based on faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).
What James said, in effect, is that genuine faith will manifest itself in our actions toward others. These “good works” are not necessary to gain our salvation, nor are they required to keep it or to prove to someone else that we’re really saved. They’re things that accompany salvation as naturally as a smile accompanies happiness.
When James said that faith which is not accompanied by action is dead (James 2:17), he meant that genuine faith is a motivating force for change in a believers life. The speed and manner in which this change takes place is different for each person, but sooner or later people will notice it.
When he said, “You can tell that I have faith by the things I do” (James 2:18) he meant that faith brings salvation, and with it comes a desire to express our gratitude for being saved through the way we act toward others.