Posts tagged ‘Salvation by grace through faith’

Faith & Works, are these separate in God’s sight?

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James 2:14-17
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

As a reformed Christian believer, I do believe that “justification is by faith alone” but very often we have humanist fools who differentiate faith from works because somehow, they want to credit the salvation God offers us in Jesus Christ to the works they do by their own volition. So, they like to see faith separate from works because they would like to see this all coming from their own volition. After all, their faith exists because they choose to believe from their own free will and since this faith arises from their own volition it must not reflect their depraved spiritual condition, lest their faith be proven counterfeit. It’s as Jesus says that you can tell a tree from its fruit (Mat 7:19-20), a good tree bear good fruit and bad tree bears bad fruit. As for most unbelieving goats (self-righteously stubborn humanists) who are wise in their own eyes, they subconsciously realize that if faith and works are not considered separate, then their wicked lives would prove that their faith is useless and so they fool themselves into believing that faith and works is separate in the sight of God.

Titus 1
13 This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

If you were to read the account of the fall of mankind in Adam as reported in Genesis 3, you would notice that what Adam willingly chose over the righteousness of God was the righteousness of self. In Adam, we have this natural apathy for the truth about God and His righteousness (Is 5:20) but in Christ the elect are spiritually reborn (Jn 3:3), being given this living hope which is from God (2Cor 4:8-10). It’s very important that scripture be understood in the light of scripture because when you look at scripture like Phil 3:14 in the light of Phil 4:13 or for that matter Eph 2:10 in the light of Eph 2:8-9, we understand that works is simply the evidence of genuine faith. This is why on one hand the Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6) while on the other hand it says that faith without works is dead (Jam 2:26).

Eph 2
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The faith and works argument is very much like the grace and law argument. The humanist however argues that faith and works are separate because he/she foolishly believes faith & works are actuated by his/her own free will and not by the Sovereign will of God as the Bible teaches (Eph 2:8-10). When it comes to grace and law, the humanist goes on another wild goose chase because he/she believes that the grace he/she receives in salvation is a license for him/her to live as he/she pleases (Rom 6:15). However, grace seen from a Biblical perspective teaches us that saving grace is that unmerited favour by which God turns us around from ourselves unto Himself (Jn 12:24-26) because truthfully, we are not God but God is God. It is therefore in turning to God that we learn there is standard we are to live by. The Moral Law is the very nature… the very image/character of God in which we were made (Gen 1:26). Imagine the immense privilege we have been given by grace (unmerited favour) to share in the very nature of the Almighty Triune God! Though we are not under the Law but under grace (Rom 6:14), those who won’t live by the Law shall perish apart from the law (Rom 2:12-16) because if we won’t glorify God by conforming to the image of God-the-Son (Rom 8:29), we have no right to the life offers us in Himself (Jn 14:6). The Bible says that the Law is like a mirror, which the elect look into and make amends in their own nature (Jam 1:23), in willingly conforming to the nature of Christ as revealed in scripture. The aspect of grace is in this, that Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Rom 5:8) that we may not just share at His table but also share in His nature. A nature which is now a Law we live by! Still, we are justified through faith alone and not by works because if we were justified by our works then the salvation we have in Jesus would not be by the power of God but by the power of our own will, and this blasphemes the redeeming merit of Jesus Christ who secured for all His people, salvation in all its fullness which is lacking in nothing. I hope you are able to see how works identify genuine faith by which we are justified just as the Moral Law identifies with saving grace by which we are saved. By grace alone… through faith alone… in Christ alone!

Mat 22
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

To conclude, remember how Jesus cursed the fig tree for not bearing fruit that the Lord of lords may eat and be satiated (Mark 11:12-25)? This is very much along the lines of Mat 7:21 where Jesus says not all who call Him Lord shall enter His abode but only those who do the will of His Father because just like faith and works aren’t separate, so too recognizing Jesus as Lord over our lives is not separate from obeying His Commandments/Law in our lives.

The Law of sin and death vs the Law of the Spirit of Life

All creation lives under God and so there must be a rule to a way of life under God; even those who rebel against God follow a rule, which is their own (not of God). This precisely is the contrast between the Law of Sin and death and the Law of the Spirit of Life.

Romans 7
22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

One of the reasons why we all have different ideas on what’s right and what’s wrong is because from Adam we have received our own standard of knowledge concerning what is right and wrong (Gen 2:9,17) that is separate from the Law of God. Adam has given us all a nature of rebellion against God and we resort to it naturally. Many have gone under far deeper to recognize themselves as good people but in this they are only suppressing the truth in unrighteousness like a person trying to hold down a floating buoy.

Our nature to sin is the very fabric in the members of our body (flesh) and the Bible refers to it as the Law of Sin and Death. This may be merely observed in some people and rampant in many for the simple reason that God shed common grace on the wicked as He does on the righteous, making the rain fall and the sun shine on them both just the same. Through this common grace He restrains the wretch who is totally depraved from being utterly depraved thus withholding man from unleashing hell on earth.

The natural person is one who is prisoner to the law of sin and such a person will only recognize this by way of the Law of God, which stands white as snow as compared to the filthy rags of the law inherent and working in each person. It is this Law of God given by way of the Holy Spirit that exposes sin in the hearts of those who keep His Law; it shows the hopeless destructive state of man left to himself.

John 16
8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgmen
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I wonder if a person who knows not his slavery to sin will ever know a Savior in Jesus Christ, who saves from sin!

Romans 8
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Romans 2
12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law;
13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified

James 2
17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

If we look at James 2 and Romans 2 as mentioned above, we see that grace is in that we are given a spirit of obedience to the Law (Rom 15:18), which Christ purchased for us by His blood… complete Salvation for His people. The Holy Law of God is so critical to Christian life that it is referred to as the ‘measuring rod’ (Ezek 40:3-5; Rev 11:1; Rev 21:15) of God’s temple and city, who are his chosen people. Man was probably given two hands that he may hold the two great commandments of God Almighty, which are to love God above all things even himself and second to love his neighbor as himself. This Law just does not make sin known but also serves as the evidence of Christ work in the believer’s life. It thereby becomes the measure of holiness in the Christian’s life.

So since there is such a thing as the Law of God, there are also penalties for those who do not adhere to them, such may be observed as below.

Exodus 21
12 “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.
13 “But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint you a place to which he may flee.
14 “If, however, a man acts presumptuously toward his neighbor, so as to kill him craftily, you are to take him even from My altar, that he may die

The reason I sight these is to show that the blueprint for ecclesiastical as well as civil government for society has its foundation in the Bible and in many ways worldviews concerning these have been borrowed from the teachings of scripture. The reason people today want to do away with the Law of God is because even a whiff of His Holy Law gives them the taste of disgust which comes from the flesh and since man is self-centered since Adam, the last thing he will truly admit about himself is the wretched sinner he is before God. Add to all this the accountability required from the believer to face the repercussions of his actions makes for a Gospel from which the natural man would run away from.

However the Gospel bears the power of God therefore when the Father call His elect from language and nation unto Christ, these are brought to repentance by the Law of the Spirit Life who reveals unto the elect the futile law of natural man’s rebellion against God.

Romans 5 (Note: Grace did not substitute the Law but worked with the Law in saving the elect)
19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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