The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans )
Listen carefully to the Holy Spirit’s words through the apostle Paul: the Bible says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-10). “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us…” (Titus 3:5). God here teaches that man’s own “works of righteousness” will not save him. These are works of merit by which we can BOAST or be proud that we did them. Again, these WORKS will not save anyone.
Paul says that God
is the "...justifier of him which believeth in Jesus...By what law? of
works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man
is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" (Romans -28). The context shows that Paul is here
referring to the deeds of the Law of Moses as found in the Old
Testament. The Bible says, “…What things soever the law saith, it saith
to them who are under the law…Therefore by the deeds of the law there
shall no flesh be justified in his sight....But now the righteousness
of God without the law is manifested...." (
Paul here teaches that one is NOT justified by the Law of Moses; however, man is justified by the law of faith or the law of Christ (Rom. ; 8:1-2). We know Paul NO WHERE teaches that men do not have to obey the law of Christ as found in the New Testament. We know this fact because Paul himself was under the law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:21). Paul EVERY WHERE teaches that man is justified by faith when he obeys the law of faith.
The major theme of Paul's letters is that salvation is a free gift from God - not earned by works of the law or works of merit. Neither is it earned by keeping man-made traditions or rituals. In fact, salvation is not EARNED at all. Eternal life is by grace through faith. It is freely given to all who are in Christ (1 John ). Only those who obey Christ will get into Christ (cf. Gal. -27).
By the grace of God we have been given His Son along with His will (the Bible). As we hear the Son (read and study His word) our faith will increase (Romans ). Once we come to a belief in Jesus as our Savior we will want to call Him our Lord. We can only call Him Lord when we obey Him or DO what he tells us to do (Luke ). If we DO NOT obey God’s word as found in the New Testament, we can call Him Lord (say we believe in Him) all day long and that FAITH still won’t save us (Matt. 7:21).
When turning to James one finds no contradiction in the Holy Spirit’s teaching. James states: "...though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?" (James 2:14). "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone...." (). "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" (). The dead faith referred to here by James is a faith that does not work the works of God (John -29; James ) - i.e., that does not DO what the word says (cf. James -25).
After using the obedience of Abraham as an example, James states, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James ). Thus, there is a WORK that is necessary for salvation. He then uses Rahab the harlot as another example of faith leading someone to be justified by works.
James is NOT
about works of merit or the works of the Law of Moses. Paul has already
man is NOT justified by those deeds. James is talking about the works
God has given man to do – the works of faith – the perfect law of
(cf. James ). Our faith will cause us to work the works
of God (John ). Thus, James like Paul is saying OBEDIENCE
to God’s word is required for man to be justified (saved) by grace
faith (cf. Heb. 5:9).
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