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Example 4 of the Fifth Rule

Arthur PinkThe Fifth Rule: the value of ascertaining the scope of each passage, and the particular aspect of Truth presented therein.

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28):

“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24).

Unless the scope of each writer be clearly apprehended, those two statements flatly contradict each other. Romans 3:28, is a conclusion from what had been advanced in verses 21-27—all boasting before God being rendered impossible by the Divine method of salvation. From the very nature of the case, if justification before God be by faith, then it must be by faith alone—without the mingling of anything meritorious of ours. James 2:24, as is clear from verses 17, 18 and 26, is not treating of how the sinner obtains acceptance with God, but how such a one supplies proof of his acceptance. Paul was rebutting that legalistic tendency which leads men to go about and “establish their own righteousness” by works; James was contending against that spirit of licentious Antinomianism which causes others to pervert the Gospel and insist that good works are not essential for any purpose. Paul was refuting meritmongers who repudiated salvation by grace alone; James was maintaining that grace works through righteousness and transforms its subjects: showing the worthlessness of a dead faith which produces naught but a windy profession. The faithful servant of God will ever alternate in warning his hearers against legalism on the one hand and libertarianism on the other.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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