FAITH FOR SALVATION
The world was once a paradise,
in all it's corners. Trees and plants and animals in harmony
and all around there was beauty and abundance.
He sent his son to rescue us
because we had no hope of saving ourselves. On our own we cannot
deliver the life of joy that we want for ourselves and our
families. We fall short. We miss the mark. The only way it can be
achieved is to depend totally on our rescuer Jesus Christ to do
it all for us. This dependence on Jesus Christ to do everything
necessary to save us is the Faith we are discussing here.
What God says is that, whosoever depends solely and wholely on Jesus Christ he will forgive. He will ascribe Jesus' righteousness to them and they will live forever. We cannot do anything to help the situation. In fact the current situation has come about BECAUSE man attempted to live reliant on himself! To get the problem fixed we have to quit doing that and rely on Christ alone.
Not only that, God has plans for the earth to become a paradise once more when he takes over the running of things! For a while though we have a parallel situation where the people God is dealing with on a one-to-one basis, get to know him and learn to appreciate life with him and the grace, peace and joy it brings, while the rest of the world carries on going their own way.
2Pe 1:2-3 Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who has called us to glory and virtue,
To embark and continue on that life journey needs us to have faith in Jesus Christ. To believe that what we humans could not do to bring happiness and joy to the earth, Jesus and only Jesus is able to do for us individually and for the world. He proved that capability when he lived, died for us and was resurrected to eternal life again. There is nothing we can supply, nothing we can do, to help the situation. All we do, is have faith in Jesus!
Faith without works - means life.
As Rom 4:5 says...
Rom 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Abraham is called the father of the faithful, because he showed the way of faith!
Rom 4:2-3 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
If you DON'T try to work it out yourself, thinking you can 'be good' and keep all the law, but instead believe (have faith) in Jesus, as Abraham did, God will accept this and impute Christ's righteousness to you. In other words all your wrongs have been wiped from the books, in exchange for you living with Christ as your internal spiritual mentor!
The life that we live after accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf is a life guided by the Holy spirit and in union with God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
But some may say, "Surely we just have to keep the Law of God, 'The Ten Commandments". That's why God gave them to Israel. If you keep them you will live forever!
Well, in theory, yes. But no-one can keep them perfectly
So what is the point of the law, if it cannot save us by our doing it? What role does it play and where does it's role end and faith take over?
As Paul says in Gal 3:24-25...
Gal 3:24 - 25 so that the law became our child-conductor-(taking us)-to Christ, that by faith we may be declared righteous, and the faith having come, no more under a child-conductor are we,
The 'pedagogue' (child conductor), sometime translated as 'school master' was not a school master actually. He was a slave or sometimes a free-man whose job was to look after a child up to school age. His role was to train the child in how to get dressed and blow his nose and bring him to the state where at school age he can behave himself as he is conducted to school by the 'pedagogue', where the REAL teacher educates him!
Once the child grows up a bit he does not need a 'pedagogue' to accompany him to school. He can make his own way to the school to be educated! His education is under his tutor at the school and the protection of the 'pedagogue' is no longer required.
While we did not have Christ as our standard the blunt implement of the Law was useful. The law says, "Do not murder". But what about 'maiming' a little to teach someone a lesson? What about 'hatred' and 'anger'? Are they OK? Not with Christ!
The law got us dressed in the morning and took us to school where we met the real school master, Jesus Christ and the law turned us over to Him for our real training in life! Christ is the end of the law. Where the people have come of age, the law's usefulness ceases and Christ's teaching takes over!
Knowing this, our faith rests on Christ
alone. He is all we need, because only He can enable us to live
to the Godly standard that the Father requires. And that only
through Him living His life in us.
Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith (in Jesus) without the works of the Law.
By showing us our own inadequacy, and the inadequacy of our efforts to 'be good' by trying to obey him, God brings us to realise that our hope rests in Jesus Christ alone. He (Jesus) demonstrated the power of God in his life and in his death and resurrection. He healed the sick, he made the lame walk, and Jesus showed he had power to forgive sins and give life! He has power to reverse all the results of everything that has gone wrong because of all the things we have done individually and collectively which are destroying the world and mankind through sin, polution, wars, etc. Jesus is Lord.
Faith without works - is dead.
Once having accepted Jesus' sacrifice and received the Holy Spirit, every person who thus comes to God starts a new life. He becomes a new creation in Jesus Christ. A new man or woman.
The new man or woman does not sit on their hands though. Jesus said that He worked and his Father, God worked! And, so does the person in whom Jesus is dwelling via the new life in the Holy Spirit. This new creation (YOU) does works of faith! Works borne out of the changed attitudes he/she has received from Jesus.
Jam 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
But, the works that James is talking about are those that corresponding with the faith we are expressing. These are works that reflect the word that we have heard from Jesus. In other words these works are the works of the Law of Christ!
Paul tells us in the book of Romans that we are not to do the works of the Law of Moses. We can see this as he illustrates which Law's works he is referring to when he says in Rom 7:7..
Rom 7:4-7 So, my brothers, you also have become dead to the law by the body of Christ so that you should be married to Another, even to Him raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sin worked in our members through the law to bring forth fruit to death. But now we having been set free from the Law, having died to that in which we were held, so that we serve in newness of spirit and not in oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known lust unless the law had said, "You shall not covet."
This law is one of the ten commandments that God wrote in stone.
We see therefore from the example law that Paul mentions, that the
works of the Law that he is referring to, are the works associated
with keeping the ten commandments!
Jas 2:14-17 What does it profit, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Is that kind of faith able to save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the necessary things of the body, what is the benefit? Thus also that faith, if it does not have works, is dead, being by itself.
So the works that James is talking about are corresponding works that go with faith. This is what Jesus talked about as he gave us his commands and illustrated what kingdom life entailed. And we can see that James' example law is taken straight from these commands of Jesus.
Mat 25:41-43 "Then He will also say to those on the left, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.'
These are the works that James says those people
who live by faith will be doing. Jesus indwelling them will be
keeping His law. The Law of Christ.
Jud 1:20-23 But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
Jude here tells us that we are to have mercy on others. We have been saved through Jesus Christ and it falls to us having had mercy shown to us to let others know of the mercy available through faith in Jesus, who can save them to the uttermost. This is our work - good works for others; to bring them the enlightenment of the Gospel and lead them to Christ.
Tit 2:11-12 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
Paul also tells us that we have good works to do in helping others physically as well as spiritually. We are to look after our brothers and sisters, in the faith and in the world. This is part and parcel of our calling too. The combination of spiritual and physical help that we give as Christians IS the 'Good Works' that the Holy Spirit has appointed for us to do. And, the more we follow Jesus and get to know him, the more it will become our nature and the more our lives will be pleasing to God.
Col 1:9-10 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
These are the two sides of
'saving' faith in action.
1Pe 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In which ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season (if need be) ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though tried with fire, might be found to praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.Attlee.