The Bible talks about Justification in three separate, related, ways. If we read the word to mean "made," or, "proven righteous or approved by God," then we have a good start. Romans speaks of sinners being "justified" through faith in God. "Abraham believed God," we read, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." This has been a bone of contention in the Church for ages. The Irish held to an individual faith in God as the basis for their salvation, and Pope John denounced such a faith as abominable and heretical. Nine hundred years later little had changed, and the Protestant movement adopted it as the One Point on which hangs all faith. It is an important truth that we are saved through faith, and that, "..the just shall live by faith."
James seems today to have been a bit of a renegade among the Apostles. At one point, Martin Luther called his letter "an epistle of straw." If we go along with that view, though, we really have lost our Bible, haven't we? If the Bible is simply a collection of the odd opinion, then it can only "teach" us what we already are willing to believe. In other words, we have stepped into the place of "teaching" Scripture what we think it ought to say. So what does James say that has gotten him such a reputation?In short, he said that we are justified by our works! Does this mean that a person who has no faith can be made right with God by "good deeds?" Without faith, where is the reason to want to please God to start with? Indeed, the justification is the "proof" that the faith is real. Abraham was "proven" when he offered his son, and Rahab was "proven" when she sheltered the spies. Each action was proof of a belief that already existed, and each person was "following up" on what they
already knew to be true. So "justification" is not just beginning the journey, but following it through.
A third way is also found in which we must be justified. We expect to be proven right with God at the Last Day when our Lord says, "Well done, good and faithful servant." In a way, James figures that in when he writes by the Holy Ghost that Abraham, and Rahab, were pronounced righteous, because of their works which came of their faith. Just like the "doctrine of baptisms," we have a single "event" in three different forms. Like the question of baptism, where we read that there is "one baptism" though three "baptisms" are needed, can we say that we are justified, if not fully justified?