February 01, 2010

Affirming Words 2/1/10-You Don't WORK Your Way to Heaven

We've run across a lot of people who feel that they have to perform a certain amount of "good works" to earn their spot in heaven.  Wrong!  A person can never do enough to earn their way into heaven.  The only path is by faith in Jesus and acceptance of Him as Lord and Savior.  That faith, however, should lead to good works.  Here is an essay about that topic from the website Purple Pew:

The debate of justification by faith alone, which started with Martin Luther in the 16th century, is still ongoing today. There are two sides of this debate: the one side that reads Paul’s verses in the Bible and says “by faith” and the other that reads James’ and says “by works”.

But Paul and James are not in opposition. Actually, they are in agreement with one another. And that’s what I’ll explain.

Paul writes in Romans 3:20-26: “Therefore by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified in his [God’s] sight: for by the Law cometh the knowledge of sin. But now is the righteousness of God made manifest without the Law, having witness of the Law and the Prophets, to wit, the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all that believe. For there is no difference: for all have sinned, and are deprived of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a reconciliation through faith in his blood to declare his righteousness, by the forgiveness of the sins that are passed through the patience of God, to show at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and a justifier of him which is of the faith in Jesus.”

(27-28) “Where is then the rejoicing? It is excluded. By what Law? of works? Nay: but by the Law of faith.” Therefore, we can conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the Law.

It is then clear by Scripture that a person is justified by faith only. That is, faith in Christ Jesus, and solely in Christ, as he was the only begotten Son of God who paid the penalty for our sins, and not ours alone but the whole world’s, by his death on the cross, fulfilling the promise of God that He would sent a Messiah to save us. This is what justification by faith alone means.

But then James (2:17-18) says, “Even so the faith, if it have no works, is dead in itself. But some man might say, Thou hast the faith, and I have works: Show me thy faith out of thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.”

Now James is not saying here that justification is by works. James is actually saying that if a person has faith in Christ Jesus, as he or she says, then that person must by their (new) nature -- because Christ dwells within them and is thus the vine that produces their good fruit -- do good works.
Click here to read the rest of the essay.

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