James says we are justified by our works of faith. Paul says we are saved by faith and not by works. How do we reconcile these two scriptures?
How do two concepts which appear contradictory work together?
Do faith and works complement or contradict one another?
You’ve heard the gospel, but have you heard all of it? Maybe not. In fact, many people have never heard the whole truth about Jesus. Time has certainly taken its toll on the truth. Not that the truth can be changed, but it can be forgotten. This article explores some of the most important facts about the Christian faith that are often overlooked or ignored.
In this post I would like to take a few moments to consider the role that we, as servants of the Lord, play in our own salvation. There is a particular scripture in the Old Testament that has brought this thought to the fore of my thoughts over the past few days. If we look at Numbers 20:8-12 we find a notable event in the course of biblical events. In this account the children of Israel have “assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.” This story is particularly interesting because the children of Israel are angry with Moses and Aaron because they are without water. If taken in isolation, their complaint would seem justified. For, who can live without water?
Therefore laying aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisies and envyings, and all evil speakings, desire the sincere milk of the Word, as newborn babes, so that you may grow by it; if truly you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” I Peter 2:1-3 I remember, since it was only 15 months ago, holding my firstborn, a daughter, for the first time and I hope never to be able to forget it. In my arms was a piece of me, sharing obvious genetic traits, probably predisposed to certain desirable and undesirable personality wiring as well. Yet, for all that, she was pure, untainted, more so than she ever would be again. I marveled as I beheld and studied her.
A couple of months ago there was a good deal of discussion concerning what God requires of us, if anything, in order to obtain salvation. I was following the discussion, and one of the participants appeared to be confusing unmerited favor and unconditional salvation. I would like to spend a little time discussing these two concepts. The salvation that is from the Lord cannot be earned, therefore it is unmerited.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” (James 2:24)
From age to age God has dealt with his creation in the same manner. He has framed his interaction and conveyed his wishes through the vehicle of a covenant. The beauty of God’s interaction can be seen in the uniform simplicity of the format of His message. This concept of a covenant is so integral to the Bible that the two major divisions are named the Old and New Testaments.
One of the most beautiful and encouraging passages in the Bible is Luke 23:39-43. In spite of the suffering and humiliation we see faith and humility from a repenting thief and mind-blowing love, mercy and grace from our blessed Savior. It strengthens us because if a thief may enter into paradise with our Lord there must be hope for us! It is saddening that it is misunderstood and misapplied to say baptism is a useless work and unnecessary for salvation.