Anyone who has engaged in the eternal security discussion has probably been confronted by the legalist's reference to James 2:17 "faith, if it hath not works, is dead," when the mention of works comes up during the discussion. Is this passage proof that a one time faith in Christ is not good enough, that one's salvation cannot be obtained without works, thus making eternal security a false concept? The answer to that is, of course, that this verse is often misunderstood by the legalist (those engaging in legalism), as this passage does not say salvation without works is dead, but rather "faith" without works is dead. What this means is that one's faith will be proven by the type of action or "work" that follows that faith. This passage, of course, condemns the theology of the legalist, not affirms it. For the action or work that follows true faith in the blood of Christ - grace - is the action or work of not working to obtain eternal life. However, the person who doesn't trust grace, who doesn't have true or total faith in the blood of Christ - grace - will have his faith in works proven by his action or "works" of trying to do good works to get into heaven. The believer in grace works the work of not working; the believer in works works the work of works. Each of these two actions - not working for salvation, or working for salvation - proves what it is that one believes. James even set up the legalist in his writings, at the beginning of his writings, when he reminded them before he wrote the 2nd chapter on faith without works is dead, where he told them, in the Spirit, not to be a just a hearer of the perfect law of liberty, but a doer. This means for the person who was about to possibly stumble in the 2nd chapter to stand firm on grace while interpreting scripture, so as not to stumble in the following 2nd chapter through misinterpretation. He was simply saying to not forget that we are saved only by grace - meaning to not be someone who hears they are saved by grace, but forgets this precept when reading scripture that sounds otherwise; but rather be a "doer" of grace - meaning one who does not forget this precept and abandon it when difficult scripture comes along - and thus stand firm on this sure foundation when one then goes on to read the next chapter. And by doing so, God would open one's eyes to what it really meant, not thinking that it meant that one must have works to have salvation. See if you can see this: "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." - James 1:22-25 Those who are told they are saved by grace, not by works, but then forget this and then think the scriptures say that they must "endure" and have works to have salvation, do so because they have in a sense forgotten the "perfect law of liberty," which is salvation by grace and grace alone, and they therefore have stumbled at such difficult scripture because they failed to remain upon the sure foundation of grace; meaning they have forgotten what "manner of man they were;" meaning men saved by grace and only grace, not by any works whatsoever. But those who refuse to interpret scripture in haste, but remain upon the sure foundation of grace and grace alone, remembering what manner of man they are - saved by grace, not by works, not by any works of any kind at any time, the perfect law of liberty - are blessed for this faith, and their eyes are therefore opened to the true meaning of these scriptures; in which all scriptures only refer to grace, and never contradict salvation by grace and thus, eternal security. James prepared the reader for the 2nd chapter - which the Holy Ghost knew that many would stumble over - by reminding us of salvation by strictly grace, in the 1st chapter. And the Holy Ghost did so as an anchor to the doers of the word, doers of grace, and as a testimony against those who were not doers of the word, but rather only hearers, and the stumble they would take in the 2nd chapter. God's word is truly amazing, and a treasure unto those who wait upon the sure foundation. God bless.