A Catholic friend of mine keeps quoting James 2 as if that refutes the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Hopefully all sound readers of Scripture realize that a single verse doesn’t “refute” any one system. To be consistent, he would have to admit that Jesus’ words “let no man call you Father” refute the Romanist idea of the priesthood (not to mention Christ saying the greatest of you will be the servant, and then contrasting that with the fact that the Pope is an absolute monarch and legal political head of state). If they will not grant those counter-examples as destructive of their system, neither will I grant that a single verse refutes sola fide.
- It’s ground: the ground of justification is Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
- It’s instrument: the instrument is faith.
Even though Romans 3 doesn’t say “alone” we can properly reason that it is there. Take Romans 3:24ff: “Justified freely by his grace.” How many works are included in the word “freely?”
Semantic domain: the word dikaoo, in contrast with the Latin justificare, denotes a declaration (see the LXX translation of Leviticus 25:1). The Latin word, by contrast, necessarily denotes a “making righteous.” The Latin (and Romanist) reading is necessarily flawed. If we take justificare and insert it in the passage in Leviticus, it is sheer legal nonsense.