Friday, October 06, 2006

Faith alone?

The literature for last night's Bible study said specifically, "Salvation is by faith alone." I knew right away this was going to be an issue for me. Where does this faith alone idea come from? Did you know that the only place in the Bible where the term "faith alone" exists is where it says "not by faith alone"?

James 2:14-26 (NIV)

14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,"[e] and he was called God's friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

How much clearer can it be? You cannot separate faith and works. Faith alone, without works, is not a saving faith! Works alone, without faith, is just something to boast about and does not encourage the relationship that God wants with us. They MUST go together.

Without God's grace, even our faith does not save us! If our works were not a part of our faith, then why would we be obligated to keep the commandments? or to love our neighbor? Of course, our works (or our faith for that matter) do not obligate God to save us and our works don't EARN our salvation. Our salvation is a gift from God promised to us when we respond to his grace in our obedience to Him.

We are not saved by "faith alone" and this doctrine has misled people for years. This idea is what made me live my life the way I wanted for far too long. My faith was enough. I could be a nominally good person and my faith alone would save me.

Understanding this has made me realize that I can no longer live my life as I have. I must strive to love more, give more, and help more. Do I want to merely have faith? or do I want a saving faith?

What do you want?

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