Justified by Faith Alone Or By Faith Plus Works?
April 6, 2013
Dear Joe, I agree we are justified by faith and not by our own works. If it doesn't bother you to say we are saved by faith alone, read James 2:24. It says "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone." That verse is one of the reasons some theologians have said the book of James is "straw." What arrogance!
When we bake bread we say the bread is made from wheat .But we don't say it is made from wheat alone.If we made bread from wheat alone it would be disgusting, just like a lot of Christianity is today. Jesus said he will spit them out of his mouth. I think the faith alone doctrine is one of the main reasons for the weak church today in America. It has affected the Mennonite churches too because we hear it on the radio and read it in books all the time.
Think how different things could be if preachers would be teaching people that God expects his people to live in obedience to the scriptures and has a work prepared for them to do from the foundation of the world, as the Bible says. The church could truly be the salt and light that God intended. But many people would think that's too hard so we try to make it easier for them. The Bible calls that heaping to ourselves teachers having itching ears.
I don't mean to weary you but just want to help a little if I can. God bless you in your ministry.
A friend in Jesus,
Dear Anonymous, Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts. You are a deep thinker.
In my understanding of scriptures, the words saved and justified mean the same thing.
Justification is a pronouncement to clear the guilty. When one is justified, he is declared right before the Lord; he is pardoned and cleared of any violation.
- Rom 3:24-25 "being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed."
- Rom 5:1: "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"
- Rom 5:9: "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him."
So what does the Book of James mean when it says: "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone."
Martin Luther claimed for years that James and Paul contradicted each other. But to say that, we would have to say: God contradicts Himself. That, we know cannot be true. In Proverbs 30:5 we read: "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him."
With that said, here is how I understand the seemingly contradictory statements by Paul and James:
- Faith is invisible. You cannot see it. Therefore, we, as men and women have to watch and see what kind of works flow from the one who says s/he has faith. As mere human, we can only judge by their actions. Actions then confirm whether that person's faith is real. In James 2:18 we read: "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."
- God on the other hand, is not fooled by our works. Hell will be full of fake Christianity and people who learned to fool church members around them. You see, God is able to look past the outward appearance/actions and right into the heart. He is able to see whether our faith is real and, if it is, we stand fully and completely justified before Him.
Today, many people call themselves Christians who aren't. They may tell you that they had some kind of experience, but their works lead us to believe their experience was emotional and unreal. If they were Christians, their works would proof it. Just because someone says they are a Christian, does not make them one.
In conclusion, true Christians are still justified before God by faith alone and not by works. True faith that justifies men and women before God yields obedience to God. God sees the faith, man sees the works.
- Acts 13:38-39: "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; "and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses."
- Rom. 3:28 "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law."
Thank you for allowing me to share thoughts. May the King of Kings bless you and guide us in all truths.
« Back to Articles