Some have read the above passage and referred to it as a defense of the works of repentance, confession, and baptism unto salvation, and to show justification is not by “faith only.”
This passage refers to those who are already of the faith in Christ Jesus and counted as “brethren” (James 1.2,9,12,19; 2.1; 3.1; 4.11; 5.7,12,14,19). The context does not refer to unbelievers and their need for faith with works in order to become a Christian.
Faith is coupled with baptism (Mark 16.16; Acts 8.13; Galatians 3.26-27), confession (Acts 8.37-38), repentance (Acts 20.21), and obedience (Acts 6.7), which brings about salvation and membership with brethren who obey the like faith in the same manner (Acts 2.47).
James 2.24,26 is written to Christians who are already believes and “added to the Lord” (Acts 5.14), and not those outside being taught to come to Christ. This scripture points to those Christians who say they have faith but lack the actions to support their faith.
James 2.14-26 taught those brethren - and teaches Christians today - the necessity works has with faith. The illustration of Abraham obtaining favor of God was not by his faith alone or a testimonial of his belief of God’s existence. His faith wrought with his works by the offering of his son upon an altar (vv. 21-23; Genesis 22).
It should be obvious to anyone that claiming to have faith but refusing the instruction of God CANNOT expect God’s favor. Yet, rendering to God “obedience of faith” means following God’s commands, not just believing they are “good words.”
The book of James is a subject of faith and what it produces. It produces patience, endurance, wisdom, doing the word, etc., which is a faith that saves because it acts. The message of James show su s faith is active. It never stands alone as a passive thought or feeling. Trying to convert those who believe and practice the idea of “faith only” using James 2.24,26 is not a good defense of scriptural truth. Use this passage to exhort brethren who are already believers to let your faith be seen in your actions. Practice what you preach. Walk the talk.
To lead a soul to salvation by faith, make reference to the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8.27-39, who, just before his soul was saved from sin, believed in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Philip then led the eunuch down into the water and baptized him and the eunuch left rejoicing afterwards. Joy comes not from “faith only,” but through believing and following the pattern of dying to sin, burial of the sin, and a resurrection to life. It is the pattern of baptism given in Romans 6.3-6.