Saturday, July 16, 2011

Can that faith save you?

I would invite you to read James 2:14-26 before reading my post.
What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but he has no works can that faith save him? James 2:14
Strong's defines the word faith as conviction respecting man's relationship to God and divine things with the idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it.
1828 dictionary describes fervour as earnestness in the duties of religion. It describes earnestness as zeal. Faith is zeal over the things of God.

Save means to keep safe from Messianic judgment. Hell.
I believe James is addressing the same problem we have today.  "Can your faith save you?"Is faith alone enough?  Does asking Jesus into your heart mark spiritual rebirth?

Now I can already hear the cries of salvation is by grace alone. Please read the whole post. I am not arguing against that. Salvation is always by grace and not works.
James asks a few rhetorical questions throughout the book. In verse James 3:11: Can a fountain send forth sweet and bitter water?   Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh. The answer is obvious... NO!

Continuing in James, he addressing the same question in different ways to make it quite clear.

James 2:17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.  Dead comes from the root word corpse. No life. That again is not a picture of saving faith. Lazarus was a picture of salvation, the resurrection of our dead spirit. He was brought to LIFE.  Remember when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. What was the consequence? Death. Their spirits died immediately. They lost communion with God. Ezekiel again paints of picture of salvation in the valley of the dead bones in Ezekiel 37. God asks Ezekiel if those bones would live again. Ezekiel responds, "Oh, Lord God you know". "Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, 'Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life." Wow! Gives me chills! Faith and the work of God produces life.

Again James 2:17 states the faith without works is dead. No life.

You believe God is one you do well. There are two types of faith. An intelluctual faith and a saving faith.  God is one is quite a statement. One would be acknowledging one true God and Jesus as God. Yet the demons believe that. Yet their belief doesn't save them.

But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

He continues in 20,24,25 that man in justified by works. Abraham was saved by works, Rahab was justified by works. Man is justified by works and not by faith alone.(vs 24)

I have heard James used to support a works salvation. Never. The Bible doesn't contradict itself.  James' message is one that is throughout scripture. You see it in verse 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS," and he was called the friend of God.

It seems you have this chapter going on and on about works, then out of nowhere comes this verse and Abraham believed God. But wait ... shouldn't it say that Abraham did great things for God? You see faith was working along with his works. The word believed is in Aorist tense. It means that it never stops.

James is making the point that Abraham believed God and because of his belief in God, he obeyed God. The result of that faith was works.

Salvation is by grace. Nothing we have done to merit it. Such glorious love of God! However, when we are saved there WILL be works. If dead bones arise or a dead man comes from a grave, you will see a difference. How would you react if you saw a dead animal laying on a lawn and asked why they wouldn't bury it and they told you, "no, it is really alive." You look at it, check to see if it is breathing, moving or has a heart beat. If it is showing none of these signs,  you are going to think your friend is in serious denial.

Salvation is spiritual rebirth. Something that was dead is now alive. You expect it to breath, to have a heart beat, to eat, to move. You expect you new spirit to start to love God, follow God, seek to do and love what God loves. Not perfectly, but alive and growing. As every instance of belief in the tense form of aorist ... it is permanent. The states never changes. Everybody stumbles, everyone falls. But they will get up again and follow Him again. If there is no evidence of any spiritual life, of any spiritual change then that faith is useless, dead (stated 3 times) and we are foolish to believe in it according to James.

John Calvin describes like this
 It appears certain that [James] is speaking of the manifestation, not of the imputation of righteousness, as if he had said, Those who are justified by faith prove their justification by obedience and good works, not by a bare and imaginary semblance of faith. In one word, he is not discussing the mode of justification, but requiring that the justification of all believers shall be operative. And as Paul contends that men are justified without the aid of works, so James will not allow any to be regarded as Justified who are destitute of good works ... Let them twist the words of James as they may, they will never extract out of them more than two propositions: That an empty phantom of faith does not justify, and that the believer, not contented with such an imagination, manifests his justification by good works. [Henry Beveridge, trans., John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 3:17:12 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966 reprint), 2: 115.]

John MacArthur states it this way.

Again, James echoes the Master Himself, who insisted on a theology of lordship that involved obedience, not lip-service. Jesus chided the disobedient ones who had attached themselves to Him in name only: "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46). Verbal allegiance, He said, will get no one to heaven: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21). 

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

‎"Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. Praise God!!