Let us turn to read what this transaction [Abraham asked by God to sacrifice Isaac] teaches us as to the relation of faith and works. “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead [useless]? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God” (James 2:20-23).
How is it possible for anyone to suppose that here is any contradiction or modification of the doctrine of justification by faith as set forth in the writings of the Apostle Paul? All the Scriptures teach that faith works. "Faith which works by love [agape]" (Gal. 5:6) is declared to be the one necessary thing. The Thessalonian brethren were commended for their "work of faith" (1 Thess. 1:2, 3). So the case of Abraham is used as an illustration of the working of faith. God had made a promise to him; he had believed the promise, and his faith had been counted to him for righteousness. His faith was the kind that works righteousness. Now that faith received a practical test, and the works showed that it was perfect. Thus the Scripture was fulfilled which says, Abraham “believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness" (Gen.15:6). This work was the demonstration of the fact that faith had justly been accounted to him for righteousness. It was faith that wrought with his works. The work that Abraham did was a work of faith. His works did not produce his faith, but his faith produced his works. He was justified, not by faith and works, but by faith, which works.