Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Justification by faith alone - is it biblical?

Justification by faith alone is not a biblical teaching.

James 2:24 "You see, then, that a man is justified out of works, and not out of faith only."

What the bible seems to teach is that faith and works are equally a gift from God and good works are themselves a sign of faith. In fact faith and goodness are both listed as fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22.

However, the bible also teaches that works on their own are not enough:

Eph 2:8 "For by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, that not anyone should boast;"

So we are saved by God's grace as the result of faith and works because if someone claims to have faith but does evil or fails to do good then Jesus will not accept them on the day of judgement:

Mat 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but the ones who do the will of My Father in Heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name do many works of power? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; "depart from Me, those working lawlessness!""

Or indeed:

Mat 25:31-46 "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He shall sit on the throne of His glory. And all nations shall be gathered before Him. And He shall separate them from one another, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. And indeed He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats off the left. Then the King shall say to those on His right hand, Come, blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me. Then the righteous shall answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, and fed You? Or thirsty, and gave You drink? When did we see You a stranger, and took You in? Or naked, and clothed You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and came to You? And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you have done it to Me. Then He also shall say to those on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting 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; I was naked, and you did not clothe Me; I was sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they will also answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to You? Then He shall answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into everlasting life."

The reason why people don't like to think too much about works is that it is hard going to deny yourself and live for others. I personally fail at this every day to some extent. It would be much easier to take a once saved - always saved position instead of treating salvation as a process, but its just not what Jesus taught and not what most people who identify as Christians (regardless of denomination) believed until the 19th century.

No comments:

Post a Comment