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I would say that the works that James is referring to would be actions taken in obedience to God's commandments, or for the benefit of others, that believers would perform out of gratitude to God for the undeserved forgiveness and salvation that God had given to them through faith in Christ, for the purpose of exhibiting the same love toward God and others that God had shown to them. This would include such examples as those given by James, such as Abraham believing that God would make his descendants as numerous as the stars, even though Abraham was ninety-nine years old at that point, and had been waiting a number of years for the birth of the son (Isaac) whom God had promised to him and Sarah (Genesis 15:1-6); or Rahab putting her faith in God into practice by receiving and hiding the spies whom the Israelites had sent out to survey the Promised Land, at the risk of her own life and safety (Joshua 2:1-21). It would also include the other actions noted by James, such as providing food to the hungry, or clothing for those in need of it, as well those mentioned by Christ in speaking of the judgment at the close of the age (Matthew 25:35-36), such as caring for the sick, visiting those in prison, and showing hospitality to strangers. These are not meant to be all-inclusive lists, but examples of the way in which God's love can be communicated through believers to others (Including sharing of the gospel message). It is also not these types of deeds that save believers (which is solely through faith), but these deeds should be the response toward others of an individual who has received that salvation, performed out of thankfulness to God for it.
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