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The teaching of James 2:14-26 has caused some controversy through the centuries. Some have stumbled over it. The great theologian and reformer, Martin Luther, was one of those who had some difficulty with this text in particular.
Faith alone is a great summary of the way of salvation. How is a sinner made right in the sight of a holy God? How can people like us conceived in sin, brought forth in iniquity, how can we be made right with a holy God? The answer that the New Testament teaches is by faith alone. That's a great summary of it and that's essentially what Paul says in Romans and makes really clear also in Galatians. But it is clear throughout the New Testament. It is clear in the teaching of Jesus.
We come to a passage, though, that on the surface of it appears to contradict that and when we read it afresh you will hear it, you will see it. Of course God's word does not contradict itself. God cannot lie. He cannot say one thing and then another and those things be true contradictions. They are only apparent contradictions.