“Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? 21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected. w 23 So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, x y and he was called God’s friend. z 24 You see that a man is •justified by works and not by faith alone. “
What do we learn about saving faith from Abraham? Abraham’s obedience demonstrated that his faith was of a dynamic, active nature. It produced obedience and a trust so great he was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac (Gen. 22). This action pointed back to and demonstrated the validity of God’s earlier statement that Abraham’s faith was accepted in place of righteousness (15:6). Thus by its very nature Abraham’s faith produced righteous works, so that works were an expression of his faith. In that sense Abraham was justified by works: God’s claim that he was righteous and any claim Abraham might have made to having faith were indicated by Abraham’s acts.
Thus the kind of faith that justifies a person before God is a faith that expresses itself in works. Any “faith” which is not accompanied by works is not a saving kind of faith.
w 2:21–22 Gn 22:9; 1Th 1:3; Heb 11:17
x 2:23 Gn 15:6; Rm 4:3; Gl 3:6
y 2:23 Gn 15:6
z 2:23 2Ch 20:7; Is 41:8
• The act of God as judge that declares sinners (who were in the wrong) to be right or righteous in His sight. God is just in doing this because Jesus died on the cross to take away their sins and to give them His own righteousness (2Co 5:21). The sinner receives this justification by faith and by grace when he trusts Christ's work.