Why in the book of Ephesians 2: 8-9 does it say “for by grace are you saved through faith: and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast”; but in the book of James 2: 14-26 it says in verse 17 “ Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone”; isn’t that a contradiction?

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Answers to Bible Questions

Scriptures are from the KJV of the Bible.

(Q) Why in the book of Ephesians 2: 8-9 does it say “for by grace are you saved through faith: and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast”; but in the book of James 2: 14-26 it says in verse 17 “ Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone”; isn’t that a contradiction?

 

(A) Good question; no it’s not a contradiction, but may seem like one if you don’t understand the Bible Dispensationally. You need to understand the Bible Dispensationally to understand it properly. The two Scriptures above which seem to be contradicting each other are really very easy to understand when you Rightly divide them Dispensationally. So let’s find out what Dispensations are all about.

What is Dispensationalism? It’s a method for interpreting the Bible. The word dispensation is used four times in the Epistles of Paul, or the books written by Paul which include Romans through Philemon. The four places the word Dispensation is used are: 1 Corinthians 9:17, Ephesians 1: 10, Ephesians 3: 2, and Colossians 1: 25. The word Dispensation can also mean economy, stewardship or administration.

A Dispensationalists believes that throughout history God has dealt with humanity in different ways at different times as part of the process of revealing His character and His plan for mankind, and calls these different periods Dispensations. For example, while salvation has always been by faith, the way to salvation through the Old Testament was through Israel and required obedience to the Law Plus Faith. So salvation under the Dispensation of the Law for Israel required FAITH PLUS WORKS. Today we are living in the Dispensation of Grace and NO WORKS are required for salvation. Today its FAITH PLUS NOTHING. Today all we can do ( without doing anything) is Believe by Faith what God tell us to Believe for salvation. Let’s look at Romans 4:4-5 which says: ( These scriptures are under the Dispensation of Grace )

4: Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

5: But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.  

  ( See Romans 10: 4 which says: )

4: For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

  ( See Galatians 2: 16 which says:)

16: Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

 Now going back to the Scriptures in the book of James as stated above in our Question we will see we need Faith Plus Works, because James was written to the Jews who were under the Law for Salvation. Look at the difference,( see James 2: 14-26:)

14: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

15: If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

16: 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?

17: Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

18: Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.

19: Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

20: But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

21: Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

22: Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

23: And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

24: Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

25: Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

26: For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

 All the scripture listed in this article are TRUE, there is no contradiction between what James says about salvation, and what Paul says about salvation in Ephesians 2: 8-9, because each one is under a different Dispensation. James was written to the Jews under the Dispensation of the Law, while Ephesians was written to Gentiles, and any Jews who would listen to the message of salvation given to Paul under the Dispensation of Grace. The problem is that most main line churches mix these two Dispensations together which is a BIG NO NO. The whole Bible deals with Jews, and Gentiles. All of us are one or the other as far as God is concerned.

Most scholars have settled on seven Dispensations. Each one has begun with an agreement between God and man that man has subsequently broken, causing the agreement to fail and requiring a judgment by God. I am not going to go into these Dispensations at this time, but will make them another Question on Answers to Bible Questions; stay tuned!

John

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