Because of its practical nature, the book of James has always been one a popular book of the Bible. Verse after verse demonstrates for us what biblical faith looks like in the real world. These lessons, however, are not without controversy. The relationship between God’s grace and our good works has always held a certain tension. On the one hand, the Bible is robustly clear that salvation is by grace through faith, not by works lest anyone should boast of their moral superiority (Eph. 2:8-9). As a cornerstone of orthodox Christianity, we must never compromise this convictional reality. However, we still must consider the role that good works play in the life of a Christian. Is any effort on our part contrary to the grace of God? How do we emphasize both grace and works without compromising either?
The simple answer is that good works are the fruit of God’s grace rather than a means for receiving it. Though our works do not save us, their presence does offer demonstrable evidence that we have been saved. The book of James is not a letter to instruct the lost on how they might be born again but is a manual for Christians to make sure that they have been saved instead. This study will equip you to evaluate your faith as we all work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).