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Q188 : James, Faith, and the Ryrie Study Bible

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Q188 : James, Faith, and the Ryrie Study Bible

Dr Woods,

I really enjoy your articles and insights.

I wanted to ask your opinion on something. Like you, my primary Bible has been the Ryrie Study Bible. I use the Ryrie NASB is my own personal reading. I think the NASB is a great bible for personal reading and study. Like you and many others I am really big on grace and the clear gospel. I was raised Catholic and saved nearly ten years ago, so I have experienced firsthand the deadly mixture of faith and works. Let me say first off, I really really value Dr Ryrie. His book So Great A Salvationa is a great thesis on salvation. I agree with him that believers will bear fruit at sometime, somewhere. Even deathbed conversions have the fruit of peace etc. However his note in the Ryrie Study Bibleb in James 2:24 is troubling.

This verse is the reply to the question of v.14. Unproductive faith cannot save, because it is not genuine faith. Faith and works are like a two-coupon ticket to heaven. The coupon of works is not good for passage, and the coupon of faith is not valid if detached from works.

What do you make of this comment? It seems to fly against what I know Dr Ryrie believes. I know he is big on grace and is not lordship. Yet his note here seems to indicate he would believe in Perseverance of the Saints as opposed to Eternal Security.

Will believers have good works? Probably . . . but we cannot qualify it and [this] rules out deathbed conversions. Deathbed conversions have the fruit of peace, but hardly works. Same same thing with the thief on the cross.

Curious on what insight you may offer. I love my Ryrie NASB and KJV study bibles and don't want to have to find something else! I do not think there is one with better cross references. (I just wish they made it in NKJV as I like that text better).


A188 : by Andy Woods

Thanks for your kind words.

The footnote in the Ryrie Study Biblea to which you refer has been pointed out by many in the grace community as problematic and inconsistent with what Ryrie has said elsewhere in his brilliant critiques against Lordship Salvation in books such as So Great A Salvationb.

The basic problem with the footnote is that it asks a question from James 2 that the epistle is not designed to answer. The saving faith of James audience is presumed throughout the letter. The faith of his audience already exists and is being matured and tested (Jas 1:2-4). Thus, James refers to his audience as "brethren" throughout the letter. Rather than asking the question about whether faith exists based upon the presence of fruit as the Ryrie Study Bible footnote assumes, the real question James asks is whether one's faith, that already exists, is useful or productive in the Christian life. The issue in James 2 is not existent vs. non-existent faith but rather is productive vs. non-productive faith.

I also disagree with how the Ryrie Study Bible takes the test of life view rather than the test of fellowship view in the 1 John notes.

Except for a few problems like these, the Ryrie Study Bible is a very fine study Bible. I do not think that you can find a study Bible that is 100 percent perfect. Even if there is one that is soteriologically perfect, they usually have defects in their Eschatological understanding. This goes to show that no human Bible interpreter, even an outstanding one like Charles Ryrie, is perfect. As you well know, our eyes need to be consistently on the Lord and not man.

Hope this helps.


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