Part 4 – James 2:14,19,24
Section One: The “Two-Coupon Ticket to Heaven.”
We are continuing our examination of Dr. Charles Ryrie’s notes, in the Ryrie Study Bible, concerning key verses pertaining to major doctrines of the Bible. This section pertains to his notes on James, Chapter Two, Verses 14, 24.
- James 2:14.
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”
The following are Dr. Ryrie’s notes concerning Verse 14.
“Can faith save him? Can that (a non-working, dead, spurious faith save a person? James is not saying that we are saved by works, but that a faith that does not produce good works is a dead faith. James was not refuting the Pauline doctrine of justification by true faith; but a perversion of it. Both Paul and James define faith as a living, productive trust in Christ. Genuine faith cannot be “dead” to morality or barren to works. An illustration of spurious faith is given in vv. 15-16.”
This so-called explanation is contradictory within itself. Dr. Ryrie expresses his opinion as to what he thinks the word “FAITH” has to produce, in order for a person to be saved. He adds his own words to faith, which does nothing more than endorse LORDSHIP SALVATION. I want to stop here and quote Ephesians 2:8,9 from God’s Word. We can then compare it against Dr. Ryrie’s opinion.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (V.8). Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (V.9).
Now let us insert Dr. Ryrie’s words concerning faith for salvation into Ephesians 2:8,9 and see who is right.
- Ryrie - “Ye are saved through TRUE faith.”
- Ryrie - “Ye are saved through A WORKING faith.”
- Ryrie - “Ye are saved through A LIVE faith.”
- Ryrie - “Ye are saved through A LIVING faith.”
- Ryrie - “Ye are saved through PRODUCTIVE faith.”
- Ryrie - “Ye are saved through A GENUINE faith.”
I do not see any of Dr. Ryrie’s words concerning faith in Ephesians 2:8,9. Do you? I only see his philosophy. Basically, Lordship Salvation is defined as “being willing to submit your life to serving Jesus as your Savior to receive salvation. This is the “front door” of Lordship Salvation. The “back door” to Lordship Salvation is here endorsed by Dr. Ryrie who, in essence, is saying that if you are really saved by “genuine” faith, you will live a moral life and have good works. Both the “front door” and “back door” of Lordship Salvation are false, Satanic doctrines predicated on man’s opinion and not the Word of God. Actually, Lordship Salvation is not salvation at all; but a faith plus works perversion which does not result in eternal salvation.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Greek New Testament Words states the following concerning the word “belief,”
“Belief as a verb is the gr. “PISTEUO” to believe, also to be persuaded of, and hence to place confidence in, to trust signifies in the sense of the word, reliance upon.”
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible,
“Believeth in Romans 4:5 is the gr. “PISTEUO” and defined as: “reliance upon Christ for salvation.”
Salvation is by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and that He paid for all my sins: past, present, and future, period! Christ’s last words on the cross as given in John 19:30 were, “...It is finished...!” Salvation is offered only as a free gift, received only by faith. And that is faith...period!
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.
Another interesting statement in which Dr. Ryrie contradicts himself is: “James was not refuting the Pauline doctrine of justification by TRUE FAITH (i.e. good works), but a perversion of it.” I do not find in any of Paul’s epistles that he states that all Christians WILL have good works, and if they do not, they are not saved because they do not have Dr. Ryrie’s so-called “genuine faith.”
The statement that James was not contradicting the Pauline doctrine of justification is contradictory to the truth itself. Paul never taught that faith in Christ for salvation would, in the absolute sense, produce good works in every Christian. The difference between the false doctrine predicated here in this footnote and a true Biblical doctrine is the following: the difference between two little words, “shall” and “should.”
- False Doctrine – If you were really saved, you shall have good works.
- True Biblical Doctrine – If you are a Christian you should have good works as a testimony before others.
- The following illustrates the difference between “shall” and “should.” “Should” - Titus 2:11,12 - For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (11). Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” (12).
This is God’s desire for all His children. Here we have a choice.
- “Should” – Philippians 2:9,11 – “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:(9) And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.: (11).
- “Should” is God’s will for every Christian; but, each has a free will choice.
- “Shall” – Romans 14:10-12. This is at the Judgment Seat of Christ where the Christian does not have a choice; but, will do what Christ demands.
“...for we (Christians) shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. (10b) For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. (11) So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Romans 14:10-12.
Now let us look again at James 2:14 and we will see that James is addressing Christians who are already saved. Dr. Ryrie attests to the same fact himself. Notice carefully in this verse, next to the words “My brethren,” is the letter “b” which he references to James 1:16, which states:
“Do not err, my beloved brethren.” (Christians).
Further proof that Dr. Ryrie knows James is addressing Christians is verified by his own words in his footnote to James 1:1. This is very important to notice, since we are saved by faith in Christ, only, and not “of ourselves or of any good works whatsoever. (Ephesians 2:8,9) Telling us Christians that we’re not really saved without good works would make Christ a liar. James 1:1 states:
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.”
Now, Dr. Ryrie’s notes concerning this verse.
“1:1 to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad. The letter is addressed to Jewish CHRISTIANS (cf. 2:1; 5:7) scattered throughout the world.”
One must keep in mind that James is speaking to Christians concerning their testimony and the way they live, in order to be justified in MAN’S eyes. If a Christian is living a disreputable life style and trying to convince others he is saved, his testimony will fall on deaf ears. He is not justified as being saved in the eyes of others without a godly lifestyle. This is what James is saying in 2:14.
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”
Now let us analyze what James is saying in this verse.
- “My brethren” identifies those he is speaking to as Christians, as he is calling them his brethren. This is spiritually, not physically.
- “What doth it profit” – “Profit” has to do with something you earn. It cannot be referring to salvation, as salvation is never earned or given as a profit for something you do. Salvation is a free gift, received only by faith and never because God owes you something!
- “Though a man say he hath faith.” – If a man says he has faith in Jesus Christ, he is not talking to himself; but someone he is witnessing to.
- “And hath not works.” – This man’s life style is known to be deplorable by the person he is witnessing to. James identifies this man as a Christian; but, one who is living a worldly life.
- “Can faith save him?” – This cannot be speaking of the man’s salvation, as we know that he is already saved since James identifies him as a spiritual brother in Christ. The Lord looks where we cannot see. Notice in I Samuel 16:7b.
“...for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
The Lord knew this man was saved because He could see his faith was in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We can only observe the outside actions of a person. In other words, can this man being witnessed to believe that this person telling him about his faith is really saved? Therefore, his testimony of faith in Christ cannot justify him as being saved, because his life style or his walk is not compatible with his testimony or his talk. His witnessing will fall on DEAD EARS!
In the front of the Ryrie Study Bible, on Page v addressed “TO THE READER” in Paragraph 2, we are told the following:
“Every time you read this Bible, whether carefully or casually, be sure to look at the notes at the bottom of the page. These are designed to illuminate and help you understand the verses you are reading.”
With all due respect, in studying Dr. Ryrie’s notes on James, Chapter 2, we find instead a dark cloud of confusion raining down two false doctrines: one of Predestination for salvation and the other of Lordship Salvation. We include Predestination because they teach “the saved ones will serve.”
I want to continue this examination of Dr. Ryries’s footnotes concerning one more verse, James 2:24.
“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”
Here are Dr. Ryrie’s notes at the bottom of the page concerning this verse.
“2:24. This verse is the reply to the question of v.14. Unproductive faith cannot save, because it is genuine faith. Faith and works are like a two-coupon ticket to heaven. The coupon of works is not good for passage, and the coupon of faith is not valid if detached from works.”
John MacArthur, who is a staunch Predestinationalist and advocate for Lordship Salvation loves Dr. Ryrie’s notes on James, Chapter 2. On his web site, “Faith According to the Apostle James,” he says this concerning Dr. Ryrie’s notes.
“Here even Charles Ryrie sounds like an advocate of Lordship Salvation.”
How sad Dr. Ryrie applies this passage to justification in God’s eyes for salvation instead of justification in man’s eyes of our testimony and life style. Nowhere is it found in God’s Word that a person is justified by works for Salvation.
God’s Word refutes Dr. Ryrie’s lie in teaching faith and works as the two coupons of your ticket to Heaven!
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” Romans 5:1
“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” Romans 11:6
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (8) Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:5
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Galatians 2:16
“Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Galatians 3:6
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20
I would like to bring out a point that is very often overlooked when a person is advocating a false doctrine. Will you notice Dr. Ryrie’s addition of the word “GENUINE” to faith, leading one to believe you are not really saved if you don’t have good works. Check his footnotes to James 2:14 and James 2:24 and notice that he uses the words “GENUINE faith.” Yet these words do not appear anywhere in our King James Translation which includes his Study Bible Notes. This is done to add clout to his philosophy that you are not saved without works
Martin Luther does the same thing in his Catechisms where he adds “Holy” to baptism and “Holy” to the baptismal water. This is done to add “clout” to his teaching of the false doctrine of baptism for salvation.
Maybe Dr. Ryrie and Martin Luther have both overlooked Proverbs 30:6.
“Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
I am sure most people are aware of Abraham’s nephew named Lot. When you examine Lot’s life from Genesis 13 on into Genesis 19, I cannot find any good works that this man has done. When two angels came to Sodom and visited Lot, the Sodomites surrounded his house to obtain the two men for a homosexual relationship. Instead, Lot offered his two daughters to the Sodomites to do with as they wished. I don’t know how much lower a father could go than that! If we hold to Dr. Ryrie’s philosophy, Lot was never a saved man
As I have previously stated, Dr. Ryrie states one thing in one place and then contradicts himself in another. Describing Lot, God says in 2 Peter 2:7,8 that Lot was a righteous man.
“And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:”(7).
“(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)” (8).
Here God says Lot was saved by being a righteous man, yet I cannot find anything recorded righteous about him. Now let us check Dr. Ryrie’s footnotes concerning Lot in 2 Pet 2:7,8.
“2:7 just Lot. Lit., righteous Lot. He was a righteous man in that he believed God and was vexed at the licentiousness of the wicked people about him, though his life was lived for himself.”
Dr. Ryrie says Lot was a righteous man because he believed God; but, he had no good works as he lived his life for himself. But now Dr. Ryrie contradicts himself by stating in his notes for James 2 the following:
“Unproductive faith cannot save, because it is not genuine faith. Faith and works are like a two-coupon ticket to heaven.”
As one can readily see, Lot did not have both coupons for his ticket to heaven. But, he had one and that was faith in God. He was void of the “coupon of works.” One can only wonder why Dr. Ryrie continually contradicts himself, saying in his notes for James 2 that you have to have faith and works together; or, you are not really saved. Now, when he comments concerning Lot, he says just the opposite. He says Lot was righteous, or saved, which is exactly what God says. When someone teaches false doctrine, as Dr. Ryrie is doing in James, Chapter 2, you will almost always find as you continually search their writings, they will continually contradict themselves.
It is not my intention to write a whole exposition on James, Chapter 2. I only want to show the false teaching of Lordship Salvation which Dr. Ryrie advocates in his notes concerning this passage of Scripture.
The preceding is another reason why I do not recommend the Ryrie Study Bible.
Section Two: James 2:19
In James 2:19 the Bible says "Thou believest that there is one God’ thou doest well: the devils also believe and tremble." How can we be saved by believing while they (the demons) believe and are lost?”
"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils (demons) also believe, and tremble.”
Here is Dr. Ryrie’s note concerning James 2:19.
“The unity of God was a fundamental belief in Judaism. But if that belief did not produce good deeds, it was no better than the “monotheism” of the demons. = demons.tremble = shudder.”
Dr. Ryrie’s Sound Doctrine Concerning John 15:6:
In his footnote for this verse, Dr. Ryrie states a Christian can be void of good works, as his sinful life is producing no good works. These works will be burned at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This person is still a Christian without possessing good works, he says, “just like Lot was.”
- Dr. Ryrie’s False Doctrine, as he contradicts himself by his notes, as we have seen.
“Unproductive faith cannot save, because it is not genuine faith. Faith and works are like a two-coupon ticket to heaven. The coupon of works is not good for passage, and the coupon of faith is not valid if detached from works.” (James 2:24 Note.)
Since Dr. Ryrie knows the truth concerning John 15:6 and states the opposite concerning James 2:24, it is difficult for me to assume this is done accidentally. One thing is for sure, he will be applauded by those Christians who uphold sound doctrine in John 15. He will also be applauded by those who endorse the false doctrines of Predestination for Salvation and Lordship Salvation for his notes on James 2.
This is another reason why I would not recommend The Ryrie Study Bible. One must be consistent in sound, doctrinal teaching as, if you are not, it will only confuse the reader instead of building up strong Christians in the faith.
The word "devils" should be translated demons, for there is only one devil; but, many demons. The philosophy of Dr. Ryrie is simple: if the demons believe the same as we do, then they should be saved also. In support of a works salvation, it is also pointed out that the word "believe" in James 2:19 comes from the same Greek word as "believe" in John 3:16 which states,
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish but have everlasting life."
Now, if the demons believe and tremble, we must have to do more than just believe, for they believe; but, all their thoughts and works are bad. “We must have good works to be saved” is the claim of the modernists and liberals.
How does a child of God answer such a claim? There is no question that the demons also believe that Jesus died for the sin of the world exactly as we do. The question is...WHEN DID THEY BELIEVE?
An Illustration: A boy in school may think he can whip another boy smaller than he. Finally, they get into a fight and the bigger boy gets beaten up. If you were to ask the bigger boy now if he believes the smaller boy can whip him, he will tell you, "Yes, I sure do!" The point is, he didn't believe it before the fight, but he certainly does now! He is a believer now; but, only after he lost the fight.
The demons are those angels that followed Lucifer when he said in his heart, "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will sit also upon the mount of congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the most high" (Isaiah 14:13, 14).
Now in verse 15 God says, "Yet thou shalt be brought down to Hell, to the sides of the pit."
In Matthew 25:41 we are told that God created the everlasting fire for the devil and his angels (now demons).
"Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
Their sentence is already passed, do they believe it? Absolutely! Remember, some of the most wicked demons are chained in place called "Tartarus" awaiting their final destiny in everlasting fire. See II Peter 2:4 and Jude 6.
The demons that are not chained know this and believe. They also believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Mark 5:7,8)...but they believed too late. They should have joined the angels that believed God instead of believing the Devil. You see, they believe now because they have seen God's judgment; but now it is too late.
A good example of this is given in Luke 16, where a rich man who was an unbeliever died. Upon entering torment, he changed his mind and began believing. Let us read the record in Luke 16:22-24,
"...the rich man also died, and was buried; And in Hell (Hades), he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off ...And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame."
Now, notice in Verses 27 and 28,
"Then he (rich man) said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment."
The rich man who was lost, believed, but he believed too late. His destiny was already begun. The demons believe; but, they have believed too late, their judgment has already been pronounced.
As I have previously stated, Dr. Ryrie gives his opinion one place in his notes and then often contradicts himself in another. In essence, Dr. Ryrie states in his notes on James 2:19 that if your faith in Christ for salvation does not produce good works; then you are lost and destined for Hell, just like the demons.
Dr. Ryrie then contradicts himself in his notes on John 15:6 concerning a Christian who is void of good works. John 15:6 states the following:
“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
Here are Dr. Ryrie’s notes concerning this verse.
“They are burned. This refers to the works of the believer. The Christian who does not abide in Christ cannot do what pleases God; therefore, his works will be burned at the judgment seat of Christ, though he himself will be saved.” 1 Cor. 3:11-15.
Dr. Ryrie’s notes here are absolutely correct and a teaching of sound doctrine according to the Word of God!
I believe it is appropriate to close this article with an admonition. Do not wait until it is too late (death) to trust the Lord Jesus Christ as the One who made your payment for sin. Don’t be like the demons or the rich man in Luke 16. Here is God's warning in II Corinthians 6:12, "Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation," because tomorrow may never come. One will not be in torment one second until they believe, but they will have believed too late. Yes, the demons also believe, and no wonder they tremble, looking only to the sure judgment of everlasting fire, because they believed too late.
"...Now is the accepted time...”