Paul the Apostle was a champion for the need for a grace-led, faith-full life.
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It seems, at least initially, that these two men are in contradiction with each other. This is performance-based Christianity and Paul reaffirmed to the Galatians that anything which adds to our standing in the eyes of God, apart from the performance of Jesus on the cross, is legalistic teaching and counterfeit Christianity. The truth, James says, is that yes, we are made right with God by believing and professing our faith in His promises. Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?
Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit! The kind of faith that is real, saving faith is shown to be vital, living and demonstrable in action. The first was when God promised Abraham a great line of descendants, even though at the time Abraham and his wife were both old and childless.
Was it the living kind of faith which produces a genuine response or a dead faith that has no effect on life at all? James is answering another question entirely: Does the ongoing and final reckoning of our righteousness depend on works as the necessary evidence of a true and living faith?
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The answer to that question is an unequivocal yes! Trust God, believe His promise and that faith alone will be counted as righteousness. Both are in agreement with each other, based on those definitions. Works, in the way that James defines them, prove that our faith is real. Any other kind of faith is counterfeit, in reality, dead, and completely useless. Living faith is really another name for discipleship ; learning to replicate the pattern and example left by Jesus in both word and action. James agrees with Paul in this, again referencing the life of Abraham:.
Depending on God and accepting His gift of grace — truly accepting it — will radically transform our lives. It will compel us to behave justly to others, with impartiality, even though the world around us might not be just or impartial. He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people.
We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Is Paul saying in the above passage that God will credit righteousness to us even if we permit sin to reign in our body? For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
Is Paul teaching us that the Spirit of God is leading us to put to death the misdeeds of our sinful nature so we will not die spiritually? If Paul is warning us Christians about sinning, why then would he go to such lengths in Romans, Chapter Four, to stress that God saves people apart from righteous behavior? This truly is the question that needs to be answered.
Let us put ourselves in Paul's position. He was attempting to prove to Jewish leaders that they can be righteous apart from the Law of Moses. If they turn to Christ and look to Him for salvation, God will count them as being righteous. Am I correct by saying this? Now, if the Jews can be righteous by leaving the commands of the Law, and those commands were many and covered all aspects of life, and can receive righteousness by believing in Christ apart from the commands of Moses, does it follow that the Jews then are free to lie, steal, bear false witness, and so forth?
They have turned away from the Ten Commandments, circumcision, and the other bedrock principles of the Law of Moses? Why then are they not free to follow their sinful nature seeing that they have abandoned the Law? The reason the Jew, upon leaving the Torah is not free to abandon himself to his sinful nature is that there is a law higher than the Torah.
So the Jew has turned away from the Law of Moses that he may embrace a higher law. It is the Law of the Spirit of God. It is of interest that the Spirit of God will lead the Jew to obey all the aspects of the moral law of the Torah , and enable him to keep these aspects on a much more complete level. Under the new covenant, the Jew has to offer his own body as a sacrifice to God in order to prove God's will in every detail of his life. The thesis of the Book of Hebrews is the rest of God.
The rest of God is that state of being in which we set aside our own life that we might live by the Life of Jesus. We are to think as the living Jesus is thinking. We are to speak as the living Jesus is speaking. We are to act as the living Jesus is acting.
We see, then, how the Sabbath Commandment is brought to a much higher level, and how the Spirit of God enables us to fulfill it. The rest of God, commanded in the Book of Hebrews, is the eternal Sabbath, the Sabbath of the seventh day of creation, in which God rests.
The seventh day has no evening or morning. We have been warned to be careful not to come short of the eternal rest of God. The Apostle Paul knew of this rest and was living in it.
Christ was living in Paul. Paul could not explain all this at once, so he began by telling the Jews that they can turn from the Law of Moses and receive the righteousness that Abraham received when he obeyed God. It may be noted that later in the Book of Genesis, God commanded Abraham to walk before Him and be blameless.enter site
Justification By Faith Alone -- Jonathan Edwards
If Abraham had said to God, "I do not have to walk blamelessly before You because I already have been declared eternally righteous due to the fact that I believed You concerning my forthcoming seed," how do you think God would have responded? Yet that is the position today of numerous believers in Christ. When there is a new covenant, as there has been since our Lord rose from the dead, we show our faith by obeying the new covenant. The new covenant is the placing of God's eternal moral laws in our mind and heart such that we become a new creation of righteous behavior and a personality that delights in the holy ways of Christ.
With all that I have stated kept in mind, we can see that the current interpretation of the Apostle Paul, that the new covenant provides a credited righteousness and holiness apart from any actual transformation of the believer, is as grievous and destructive error as possibly could be contrived. It is my opinion that most Christian people believe we cannot have fellowship with God, or live in the Kingdom of God, if we are filled with lying, stealing, immorality, unforgiveness, hatred, anger, and so forth. Since numerous Christian people exhibit these traits, the solution offered is that God sees these aspects of our personality through Christ, with the result that we are blameless in His sight.
Our demonstrably sinful behavior will in no manner hinder our entering Heaven when we die.
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Because of our profession of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, we permanently are credited with righteousness and holiness independently of our behavior. As questionable as such a position may appear, it seems to be the prevailing position of church-goers in our day. When faced with the prospect of our fellowship with God and our residence in a mansion in Heaven, while we are exhibiting sinful behavior and an unholy attitude, the believers realize something is amiss. So two resolutions of the problem have been offered. One, that when the Lord returns, we will be delivered immediately from all worldliness, our sinful nature, and our self-will and unbelief.
Two, that when we die and enter the spirit world we will be delivered immediately from all worldliness, our sinful nature, and our self will and unbelief. These solutions sometimes are presented. Yet, there is no scriptural basis for either of these two suppositions. The thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew tells of the removal of all sin and sinners from the Kingdom of God.
As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. The passage above tells us that there is coming a time when Christ sends out His messengers and removes all sin and sinful people from the Kingdom of God.
We understand from this that credited righteousness and holiness will be superseded, as they must be, so that demonstrable righteousness and holiness prevail among saved people. It is my point of view that such removal of sin has begun and will continue until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, terminating with the final resurrection of the dead. God does have the authority to do that.
Related Credited and Demonstrable Righteousness and Holiness
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