Faith or Works

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“But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.  Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.  So then the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.”         Galations 4:22-24

The question in our study asked to record and explain the two images Paul uses to illustrate how the Law functions.   The two images were prison and guardian.  How could it be both?

My answer to the how was to consider a plane in a holding pattern.  Number 3 in a line of 6 sitting on the tarmac waiting to take off.  As a patron in the plane, likely having sat on that plane for about 1/2 hour already at that time, one could feel as though they are in prison. Not able to get out of the seat, not able to use the phone, not able lay the seat back.  It is a requirement that one follows the rules of the plane at this time.  However, as the pilot, hearing and knowing that the holding pattern they are in is truly a protection from being hit by other planes and that waiting their turn is worth the safety of the crew and patrons on board.

How wonderful that the fulfillment of Christ’s death on the cross set us free from the imprisonment of the law.  If ever you’ve read the law laid out for god’s people of the Old Testament you would realize that it’s quit complicated.  One could easily feel imprisoned, especially since the Law did not give them freedom, it only gave them a recognition of their sins and their death to them.  Only the coming of Christ and the fulfillment of his death could provide life.   I wonder how many people that call themselves Christians understand this?  Being a homeschool mom, I have over the years met and observed many groups/people that practice much of the Old Testament Law.  I often wonder if they truly know Christ and understand that there is nothing they can do obtain salvation.  I wonder if they understand that the covenant made to Abraham in Genesis, came 430 years prior to the law.

“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  Galations 12:1-3

This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it longer comes by promise, but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.  Galations 3:17-18

The understanding that we can do nothing to obtain salvation other than through the freedom in Christ is sometimes twisted by unbelievers so that they feel freedom in sinful behavior as long as they claim to believe in Christ.  I’ve even heard it said that if someone is a good person and they do good works and have lived a clean life they are saved.  Even if the person outwardly has claimed they don’t believe in  God.  I would argue and have argued that one is not saved through such criteria.

And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas.  Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  Acts 16:29-31

So then what freedom does a person claiming to believe in Jesus have?  Can he or she knowingly still freely sin?  Are the 10 commandments null and void due to the coming of Christ?

NO!  

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”  John 15:9-11

I am praying for them.  I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.  John 17:9

“Enter by the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  Matthew 7:14

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.  John 6:37

Can someone just say he or she believes in Christ and they are saved?  How do we know it’s genuine?  What about alter calls?  I have to be honest in saying that I myself find it hard to judge the heart of another.  Just as one of the two thieves on the cross deserved death, he was not baptized, he did not follow the law, yet he believed in Christ, genuinely, and Christ understood his heart.  He was welcomed by the Lord unconditionally other than his proclamation of faith.  Consider however, he did not have a life further to live.  He was dying alongside our Lord.  For healthy humans who say they believe, if they are genuine in their faith there is a change of heart and their lives begin to reflect that change.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  do not marvel that I said to you ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where is wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  John 3:3-8

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?  Or what shall a man give in return for this soul?  For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels int he glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.”  Matthew 16:24-27

And again in Mark 8:34-36 the above is again repeated.  Ending with:  “For what can a man give in return for his soul?  for whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in his adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”  Mark 8:37-38

Keeping God’s commandments, and doing good works are all a result of saving faith.  The requirement of the Law of the Old Testament as atonement for sins is no longer required since Christ died on the cross.  Good works by those who love Him however, still exist as a result of one’s faith in Christ.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothes and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  James 2:14-17

But someone will say to you, “You have faith and I have works.”  Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  You believe that God is one; you do well.  Even the demons believe – and shudder!  Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God , and it was counted to him as righteousness” – and he was called a friend of God.  You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?  For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.  James 2:18-26

Why has this subject been swarming in my mind this past week?  I’m not sure other than to say it is God’s providence that I have a blog to share with others.  To write about my understanding of His words and to share what I know with those who may not understand.  For we know not the way the Lord may touch the human soul.  Through a song, a friend, a family member, a loss, a tragedy, or maybe through a blog.

I hope you find your week to be blessed and that you can see Him.  May your hearts be stirred to know him more completely through His Word.

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Isaiah 55:1       (The commentary on this verse claims it is  addressing a deep spiritual longing to seek the Lord while he may be found.  The word Come is all one needs to do in order to find mercy in God.  ESV Study Bible Commentary)

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”  And let the one who hears say, “Come.”  And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17

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