They are Jewish tribulation saints.
The author of this question expounded on his question in his email to us. For the benefit of the readers, here is the rest of his question so you can understand the answer.
“I have an Old Scofield Bible and on the introductory remarks, he says, “to suppose that James 2:14-26 is a polemic against Paul’s doctrine of justification is absurd.” He says the theme is “religion” – outward religious service. This is the way that James has always has been expounded to me in the past. In Dr. Ruckman’s commentary on James, he says that would be the spiritual application, but doctrinally it is referring to the Jews during the tribulation. All Baptist pastors, particularly independent, teach the spiritual application. It seems like this is the only application they are aware of. If you mention the doctrinal, they immediately dismiss it, or they’ll say something like, “you need to watch that Ruckman stuff.” The three applications of scripture [Note: he’s referring to the doctrinal (or prophetic) application, the spiritual application and the historical application] makes sense to me, like the saying goes, “the whole Bible is written FOR you, but not all of it is written TO you.” Why is it that so many pastors, with the exception of some, never expound the scriptures this way?”
Here’s our answer: Many Baptist pastors do not have a moderate dispensational view of the Bible. They weren’t trained this way in seminary. Thus they cannot see James as anything but a book written to church age saints. The excuse that the moderate dispensational view is a “Ruckman” position is given just to scare off the faint-hearted. Many pastors are so scared of what their co-laborers in the faith might have to say about them that they refuse to accept any doctrine that might be associated with Dr. Ruckman.
Most men fail to recognize that there are people who will be alive long after the rapture of the church age saints and their instructions and doctrines have to be in the Bible, also. Since the Bible is a complete book and no more will be written, a tribulation saint or a millennial saint will have to get his doctrine out of the same Bible that we read everyday. Most Baptist pastors cannot see this.
When James opens his epistle, he says, “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.” Hence he identifies his audience; they are all Jews. In Christ, however, Paul makes it clear that the wall of division between Jews and Gentiles is gone (Eph 2:12-19, Gal 3:28; 1 Cor 10:32, etc). So, if James is writing Jewish Christians, his doctrines would have to fit Gentile Christians, as well (Acts 15:11). And they don’t.
Reconciling “faith and works” in Jas 2:20-26 with “faith … without works” in Rom 4:1-8 is impossible. The Scofield notes limiting James’ comments to “religion” won’t work because James is writing about “justification”, which is the same topic that Paul was writing about in Rom 4. Justification has nothing to do with religion.
In fact, Christians (Acts 11:26) in the church age are justified by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary plus nothing. Whereas the tribulation saints are justified by “faith and works” just like James said because they have to have the faith of Jesus and keep the commandments of God, (Rev 14:12 and 12:17). So, the answer to your question is simple and you have it. The doctrinal application of Jas 2:20-26 is to Jews in the tribulation. These are not Christian Jews.
Hope this helps,
Pastor Bevans Welder