is by faith not works,
lest any man should boast
Volumes exist on the issue of Salvation by faith versus works, and for that matter, on everything else found in Scripture. Our previously expressed comment that there's "no room for debate" refers, not to the plethora of conflicting views (that cockalorum has been heard since the beginning), but rather to the need for, or justification for, those many views, based on Scripture. Simply stated, "If it isn't in the Book, it isn't. The clarity of Scripture regarding salvation by faith not works is such as to mitigate against debate. Regarding this issue, we believe that the debate stems from man's reluctance--albeit, refusal--to accept the Biblical Truth that Salvation is the work of God: man has nothing whatsoever to do with it. He cannot determine it, he cannot earn it, and he doesn't deserve it. ALL HE CAN DO IS GRATEFULLY ACCEPT IT!
Frequently the contrary debaters point to the many denominations and countless churches as evidence of lack of Biblical clarity on this issue. We are often asked, "How come there is not 'One Church, One Body, One Understanding, One Faith.' Actually, the Bible does establish One Church, One Body, etc. Only man in his arrogance and ignorance has run off and created for his own convenience multiple denominations, etc. The One True Church is Christ's Church founded on the rock of the divine Son of God . . . the one and only Son of God. Why would a divine and perfect God build a church on some imperfect, hardly divine, human being? There is nothing in Scripture that justifies all the man-made sects. Like it or not, that's the Word. Among the surprises one will find when Heaven is revealed, will be the absence of many expected to be there, and the lack of special areas for the Baptists, Pentecostals, the Roman Church, Mormons, etc. Sadly, whenever, the Word of God presents an obstacle to some man-made desire to justify a contrary denominational habit/ life-style/ or intention, man concocts countless denials, debates, accusations, and "scholarly" dissertations as to how God is wrong or contradictory. Some even go to the extent of writing their own "scripture" leaving out what they don't like or understand, or adding whole "new testaments" to include whatever fits with their desires, or provides them with a "comfort zone" for their rebelliousness. Others denounce the existence of God, the Bible and any and all Absolutes . . . and embrace the religion of Humanism, allowing them to do whatever they choose. By this mental exercise they believe they will escape the judgment of the Almighty God. Like the rebellious little kid who chooses not to follow his father's instructions, there is no end to the reasons he can advance for not having to do so! Dress them up in black robes, put mortar boards on their heads, and bestow Doctorate degrees on them, and call them learned and scholarly. Listen to how eloquently they deny the Truth (if that is their intent), and realize this: that by their denials, not one "dot or tittle" of the Truth will be changed, nor can it be. Christ said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."
Researching the subject of salvation, perhaps some readers may have run across the word "antinomianism," referring to a common stumbling block of faith versus works and the law. No doubt, some have read Romans 6-7 where people contended against Paul's teaching in Galatians 2:16-3:11, and Romans 5 and 1:17 that "the just shall live by faith." They argued that this doctrine logically provided a "license" to sin. Paul's reaction, "God forbid!", expresses his dismay at such a notion. We won't attempt to elaborate on Paul's words because Scripture states it eloquently, and there's no need (as above) for more words. We directed some attention to this in "HEAVEN IS A FREE GIFT" to be found at this Web Site. In this article, we'll simply offer a few summary remarks.
James 2:17, when quoted out of context, is subject to distortion . . . frequently in man's usual effort to justify some denominational habit or life-style. James' statement is, "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" He is deliberately speaking to a vain, insincere, phony whose lack of fruits displays a faith which is of the lips, not of the heart. James has not stated that Salvation is dead. He is saying that Faith that does not bear fruit is not the committed Faith of conviction to which Paul has referred. Thus, there is no contradiction between Paul and James . . . although there are those who would like to proclaim such to justify their own agenda. Rather, James describes a non-fruitful faith--a dead faith--a failure to "let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) We are to display a "lively" faith but, lively or not, it is "by Grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourself; it is a gift of God, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2-8) Likewise, Matthew 25:41 is a profound warning to those who hypocritically profess faith such that their lives do not reflect the works of God that are manifest through them. It's not the absence of "good works" that condemns them to everlasting fire; it's the absence of genuine faith . . . that is Faith with a capital "F." John Bunyan in "Pilgrim's Progress" describes the traveler who professed to walk on the road to heaven, being bound by nine cords and dragged through the "backway to hell."
Until Faith is "alive" or "true" (which, has been stated in "HEAVEN IS A FREE GIFT" only God can determine) Christ's righteousness is not imputed to us, and thus God cannot use this imputed righteousness to work through us to produce His divine fruit displayed in the works that may be visible to others. In Matthew 17:20 we learn that, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." Do we really imagine that by our own puny human abilities, we shall be the mountain movers? Perish the thought! It shall be that God, through that genuine faith, even as small as a grain of mustard seed, shall be able to exercise His divine power to achieve His works. But without it, we are indeed fruitless, and thus without Faith.
Finally--a question. IF works are essential or provide for Salvation, how is it that the thief on the cross next to Jesus, to whom Jesus said (based on the thief's profession of belief) that "Today, thou shalt be with me in paradise," was saved? (Luke 23:45) The thief had no time left on earth to perform "good works"! How is it, then, that thief was justified the moment he turned his eye of faith to Jesus, and Paul, after decades of sacrificial service to Him was no more justified than the thief?! Jesus' parable about the vineyard workers--the last receiving the same payment as the first--is affirmation of that basic and fundamental Truth of Scripture. We are given the way to determine the false from the true. Christ said, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." (Matthew 7:15) Five verses later, He said, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
Conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit, necessarily, "breaks" the sinner--"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart." (Psalm 51:17) NO ONE, genuinely convicted of his own sinfulness can continue a life in sin, with license and without repentance, after receiving and accepting the unmerited, undeserved GIFT of the Grace of God. The mature understanding of justification by faith leads the believer to appreciate the gift of Salvation, so that s/he attempts to live a life of obedience to God arising from a sense of profound humility and gratitude. Appropriate gratitude for the Gift of Salvation should be the believer's prayer. And, indeed, it was for history's greatest men and women of God. We observe that George Washington prayed "...Let me live according to those holy rules which thou hast this day prescribed in thy holy Word; make me to know what is acceptable in thy sight and therein to delight. Open the eyes of my understanding, and help me thoroughly to examine myself concerning my knowledge, faith and repentance. Increase my faith, and direct me to the true object, Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life."
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|PLEASE NOTE: These comments are intended to be based squarely on the Authorized King James Bible, which we believe is the exclusive translation inspired by God for the English-speaking people of the world. Therefore, we urge any reader to take these comments to the book to ascertain that there is no compromise with Scripture. All human endeavor should be so tested. Yes, we are not to judge, but we are to be discerning, and the "yardstick" of discernment is the Word.|
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