by Jerry Shugart
Stam also recognized that justification "apart from the Law" has always been in operation. He makes the following comments on Paul's words at Romans 3:21:
"Mark well, he says that this righteousness, graciously imputed to the believer,
is now 'manifested.' The principle of righteousness apart from the Law had
always been in operation, but it had not yet been 'manifested' or 'testified' " (Ibid., p.75).
When Paul preached to the Jews he "reasoned with them out of the Scriptures": "And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures" (Acts 17:2).
It is obvious to the thoughtful student of the Scriptures that if David was saved apart from the "works" of the Law then those works were not required for salvation and to believe otherwise is contrary to reason.
Despite this Stam says that "It was only as Israelites recognized the law as the Word of God to them and therefore sought to obey it that they were saved" [emphasis added] (Stam, Things That Differ, p.29).
The words of James lead Pastor Stam to the conclusion that in other dispensations "works" as "expressions of faith" were required for salvation:
"And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (Jms.2:23-24).
Stam realizes that from the first Abraham was justified before the Lord by faith alone, saying that "In Rom. 4:1-8 the Apostle uses Abraham and David to demonstrate the validity of his argument for justification by faith, apart from works" [emphasis added] (Stam, Commentary on the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, p.87).
Stam also states that Abraham's work as an "expression of faith" in submitting to the rite of circumcision "did not justify Abraham":
"Thus the covenant of circumcision had nothing whatever to do with Abraham's justification before God. He was justified by faith alone...Circumcision did not justify Abraham. It was merely a 'sign,' a token; 'a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised' " (Ibid., pp.90-91).
Even after the covenant of circumcision was given we can see we can see that Abraham was justified by faith when the Lord told him that his wife Sarah would bear him a son despite her advanced age (compare Genesis 17:16-19 and Romans 4:17-22).
However, Stam thinks that later the terms of salvation for Abraham changed and that works as "expressions of faith" were required:
" In that day the 'gospel of the kingdom' will again be proclaimed (Matt. 24:14) and
works will again be included in the terms of salvation as they were when our Lord was on earth (Mark 1:4; Luke 7:29,30; 18:18-22; et al). Does this mean that works will be efficacious in themselves? No. They will avail only as the expression and evidence of faith as, indeed, James clearly teaches (Jas. 2:18-26)" (Stam, Ibid., p.89).
Stam correctly states that in the epistle of James works serve as "evidence" of faith. That begs the question, "evidence for whom?" The Lord knows the heart of man so He does not need to see a man's work in order to know whether or not a man has faith. On the other hand, a man cannot know whether another man has faith or not unless he sees that faith expressed in good works. James makes it clear that he is writing about what a man may know about another man's faith:
"Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works" (Jms.2:18).
Charles C. Baker and Cornelius Stam established the Milwaukee Bible Institute, and Baker understood that Abraham was not justified by "works" in the eyes of God, writing that "James speaks of Abraham being justified by works 'when he offered up his son Isaac', which happened 49 years after his justification by faith as mentioned by Paul (Genesis 15:6; Genesis 22). Paul makes it plain in Romans 4:1 and 2 that the justification by works of which James speaks, was not a justification before God, and James states that it was the fulfilling of the faith which he already had (James 2:23). Grace is the source of justification (Rom-ans 3:24); Christ's blood is the ground (Romans 5:9); faith is the means (Romans 3:28); and works are the evidence (James 2:21). As the tree must have life before it can bear fruit; so Abraham received life when justified by faith alone, and 49 years later that faith bore the fruit, of which James speaks " [emphasis added] (Baker, HOW WAS ABRAHAM JUSTIFIED BY WORKS?).
Sir Robert Anderson writes, "Paul's Epistle (Romans) unfolds the mind and purposes of God, revealing His righteousness and wrath. The Epistle of James addresses men upon their own ground. The one deals with justification as between the sinner and God, the other as between man and man. In the one, therefore, the word is, 'To him that worketh not, but believeth'. In the other it is, 'What is the profit if a man say he hath faith, and have not works?' Not 'If a man have faith', but 'If a man say he hath faith' proving that, in the case supposed, the individual is not dealing with God, but arguing the matter with his brethren. God, who searches the heart, does not need to judge by works, which are but the outward manifestation of faith within; but man can judge only by appearances...He (Abraham) was justified by faith when judged by God, for God knows the heart. He was justified by works when judged by his fellow men, for man can only read the life " [emphasis added] (Anderson, The Gospel and Its Ministry, [Kregel Publications, 1978], pp.160-161).
With that in mind we can understand the following verse is saying that Abraham was justified before the Lord by his "faith" and he was justified before man by his "works":
"Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (Jms.2:24).
It is puzzling why Stam would say that James is teaching that "works" were required for salvation when we consider what he wrote at another place:
"Finally, we would emphasize the fact that 'in the nature of the case' men born of Adam must be born or begotten again to be saved...The sinner is born anew and receives the life of the Spirit as the Spirit implants the Word in his heart, so that he accepts it by faith: James 1:18: "OF HIS OWN WILL BEGAT HE US WITH THE WORD OF TRUTH..." (Stam, TRUE Spiritually, [Berean Literature Foundation, Fourth Printing, 1984], p.34).