Thursday, February 18, 2010

Unloading 17 More Loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" 5/17

Steve Ray has a list of more than 35 loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" (quotation marks his)(link to the whole list). I originally planned to respond to just 35 of them, but the series seems to have been of interest, so in this extension, I'm responding to three more numbered questions in his list, plus fourteen "bonus questions" that take the form "Where does the Bible say ... ." I'm trying to provide the answers in the same common format as the original series, for easy reference. This is number 5/17.

Where does the Bible . . .
. . . say salvation is attainable through faith alone?

Simple Answer(s):

1) Salvation is by grace alone through faith.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

2) Justification is by faith alone.

Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Important Qualification(s):

We are aware of the practically automatic Roman objection that James talks about justification by faith and works.

James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

However, as we always point out James is simply distinguishing between a a true faith and a dead faith. Saving faith operates according to love.

Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Not servile fear that comes from mere assent to the intellectual fact of God's existence.

James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

The way in which works justify are that they show evidence of a true and living faith. A true and living faith, which operates according to love, will manifest and complete itself in works.

James 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

James confirms that Abraham was justified by faith alone, before works, for he repeats for us:

James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

But James explains that this faith which had already justified Abraham was demonstrated through his act of obedience to God's law/command:

James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

For indeed, Paul cannot be made to contradict James, yet Paul wrote:

Romans 4:1-3
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? 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.

and again:

Romans 4:8-13
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: and the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

Notice that Paul teaches plainly that Abraham received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness of the faith that he already had while he was yet uncircumcised. Yet, Abraham's demonstration of his faith through offering up Isaac came long after his own circumcision. Therefore, it cannot be that Abraham was not righteous in God's sight until he had offered Isaac, but rather that Abraham's faith demonstrated itself by working in love toward God.

And thus we see how (that word of 2:24 is so often ignored by Rome's apologists) works justify: they demonstrate faith.

- TurretinFan


Lucian said...

There's a difference between circumcision and good deeds. I may well be circumcised, without having a changed life, but I cannot offer my only son up yo God if I am not truly changed. That's why St. Paul always argues against sepciffically-Jewish practices as contributing to righteousness, but not against good deeds. And that's also why St. James never argues that it is works of the Law that contribute anything to righteousness, but only good deeds. The Apostle Paul clearly distinguished between the two in passages such as Galatians 5:6, Titus 1:13-16, etc.

Lucian said...

Circumcision and the works of the Law are signs and symbols; but good deeds are the reality. I may fulfill the former without having what they signify (i.e., holiness) but I can't do the later without actually having it.

Turretinfan said...

There are differences between sacraments and other forms of obedience to God's commands. Those differences are not especially important to either Paul or James.