James gives a definition of works here that is worth looking at--The ones he mentions have proven their faith is alive by taking action that can only be based on faith--
17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
24Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
25Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
26For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.