Is Faith Dead without Works (in God’s Eyes)?

People immediately assume that (in God’s eyes) your faith is dead without works. But, if we dig deeper and look closer, we will see that faith does not need works, in the eyes of God. God sees your faith and that is enough for Him. You and I are different; we must see works in order to say if someone has faith. People cannot see faith; they only see your good and bad works.

Many times we forget to read things in the context. This passage in James 2 gives the illustration of faith in the eyes of man. Check out the following list of people this passage is talking about:

– “if someone,” (not God)
– “if a brother or sister” (not God)
– “and you says to them” (not God)
– “give them” (not God)
– “But someone” (not God)
– “show me your faith” (not God)

This whole passage is not about God seeing your faith, but it is about, “someone” else seeing your faith. Let me ask you a question, can you see faith? No, we can’t see faith; we can only see works.

let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Mathew 5:16

photo credit: helgabj

I have no idea what someone believes until I SEE it, with my physical eyes. I see them worship, pray, or sing, and I say, “Oh they are probably a Christian.” Now, can you see that the message James was trying to get across was, “what’s the point of your faith to a homeless man?” He cannot see it; you should have given him some food instead of telling him you will pray for him. Imagine someone is starving and I say, “Hey, I’m praying for you.” That would not help (save) him, in his eyes. Now you say, “Well, Caleb it’s clear in black and white; faith without works is dead, so it must be true.” My dear friend, if our faith is dead without works, tell me why did Paul say Abraham (a picture of us today) was justified by faith?

For if Abraham was justified [b]by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. – Romans 4:2

That is the KEY words, “but not before God.” It was not in God’s eyes that he was justified, but he was justified by faith. You and I are like Abraham.

Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM (ABRAHAM) AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 23 Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, – Romans 4:22-24

Abraham was accredited with righteousness, and, “for our sake also… those who believe in Him (God)” will be credited as righteous. Now, let’s compare these two verses.

• For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. – Romans 4:2
• Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?– James 2:22

One verse said Abraham was justified by works and one says that Abraham was not justified by works. So what is the truth? The truth is that James talks about faith, in man’s eyes, and Paul talks about faith, in God’s eyes.

– Abraham was not justified by works, BEFORE GOD. – Romans 4:2
– Abraham was justified by works, BEFORE MAN. – James 2:22

People Use, “faith without works is dead” to promote the law, but in this context we can see that God only needs to see faith. Salvation is not faith + obedience + our law keeping + our behavior. No, Salvation is faith alone. Know today that you are made right with God, not because of your good works, but you are made right with God because of Jesus alone, case closed!


Related Posts:

Does God Give Us More Than We Can Bear?

Who Shall Ascend To The Hill Of The Lord?

Is Our Heart Desperately Wicked?

photo credit: Jonathan Kendall/


  1. Caleb,

    Thank you very much for your swift and timely response. You pointed out that God did indeed bless Abraham way before he offered Isaac. That’s a great point!

    I’m beginning to understand this now. And it’s nothing short of radically amazing. Now share with me if you will, why do you think the manager in the Talents parable says, “Well ‘done’ good and faithful steward.” Why not “Well believed good and faithful steward. “?

    Also, I sent you an email recently. I’d love to put some feet to an idea. Respond when you get a chance. And thanks again!

    1. Isom, thank you! I’m glad to help. The love of God is really, “nothing short of radically amazing.” Now the situation in the parable of the talents is not a specific message about believing. The whole message has to do with them doing something with what God gave to them. I’m not completely sure why he said what he said. I do believe that one of the reasons could be that he simply wanted to thank the faithful steward with his work. Many times when someone hits a homerun we may say, “way to go.” I believe this is what he was saying.

  2. I think that we should want to do good works because of our faith. Salvation shouldn’t hinge upon it (like a few other religions try to teach), but we should want to do good works because it shows Christ who is in us.

    1. Thanks for the comment Eric! You are right it is the grace of God that causes us to do good works.

      “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mat. 5:16) (NASB).

      Salvation or faith does not hinge upon works, so it is not faith plus works that earns us any favor. It is simply faith that pleases God.

  3. Glory to God for His abundant grace!
    When I encountered true solo grace a few months I knew there was something about “Faith is dead without works” which I had yet to understand and the Lord has blessed me today with this revelation.
    God is Love! All the time.
    All the time! God is Love!

  4. What about this verse? what does it mean from what you said?
    James 2:17
    King James Version (KJV)
    17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

    1. Thanks Tra for your comment.
      James 2:17 speaks about faith before man. It does not mean that faith is dead, in God’s mind. God only needs to see your faith. Us humans need to see works, in order to see someone justified. This was the main verse i wrote this blog about. Does that make sense?

      1. Thanks for aharing. I believe what your saying is very true. However how do we reconcile the fact that God tested Abraham and it wasn’t until after he offered Isaac that God promised to surely bless Abraham? Gen 22:16-17

        It seems that God wanted to see a corresponding action there. No?

      2. Hello Isom Chapelle! This is a great verse you brought up. When God called Abraham righteous, He called him this before Isaac was even born. This had to be at least 16 years + the 9 months, and possibly way more than this. As far as God wanting a corresponding action, he had already been blessing Abraham before this.
        Notice in chapter 17, God gave the promises that He would bless Him way before this all took place. So God had been promising to bless him 20+ years before he had done anything.
        God blesses us because of our faith, not our actions. Sometimes he may reward us because of something, but that does not mean he always requires works. God wants to bless us. He blessed Abraham with a son when He had faith. Then He blessed him when he showed that faith. God is in the blessing business. 🙂

        Let me know what you think!

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