A faith that works…

19 05 2009

In my previous blog I reasoned that the word “faith” is used in scripture in a comprehensive sense – ex. Romans 16:26 – “obedience of faith”, Hebrews 11, and that mental ascent or acknowledgment of facts in respect to salvation is insufficient for one to claim what Hebrews 10:39 calls “saving faith”.

It was shown that Romans 4 and James 2 talk about the SAME type of faith because both scriptures talk about the faith of Abraham – quoting Genesis 15:6.

We then note that Romans 4 speaks of the TYPE of works NOT reckoned as righteousness while James 2 speaks to the necessity for the TYPE of works that are needed for one to be justified!

So what TYPE of works are “reckoned for righteousness” (ei. what type of  works  appropriate the blessing of God)?

In this context there are –3- types of “works” to be considered in scripture:

1.) Works of merit:

These are works performed to earn something – called “boastful works” in Eph. 2:9. Those works which would allow us to brag that we earned, and therefore merit our salvation and that we do not need God. “Works” that would let us say God owes us salvation for what we have done. This is the type of “works” mentioned in Romans 4:4 – “of debt”.

2.) Works of “the law” (OT):

No one is “accounted righteous” in His sight by these “works” – Romans 3:20. If you attempt keep one point of this law (OT) you must keep it all, sinless perfection required – Gal. 5:3, Jas. 2:10.

3.) Works of God:

John 6:29 – “This is the work of God that you believe on Him whom he hath sent.”. There are “works”, chosen by God, that appropriate the blessing of God. This is just as God designed it to be.

When the astute reader recognizes the different TYPES of works mentioned in scripture, problems harmonizing how works complement faith are remedied.

Ephesians 2:8-9:

8…for by grace have you been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: 9 not of works, that no man should glory.” ASV

By grace – we are saved – through faith. Grace is God’s part and faith is man’s part in salvation. God has done His part – God’s grace has appeared bringing salvation to man (Tit 2:11-12), but His grace instructs us to live soberly, righteously, and godly.
Man needs only to do his part to appropriate God’s gift of salvation. The gift of salvation is offered by grace and appropriated by faith – faith as defined in scripture.

Many casual readers do Ephesians 2:9 a disservice by imposing the thought into it that no works of any kind are involved in our salvation – this is a mis-reading and has caused too many to errantly conclude they need do nothing to appropriate salvation.  This verse says  that our salvation is not of BOASTFUL works, works that would allow one to boast about it or say salvation had been earned.  Again, knowing the TYPE of works from the context is critical to a proper understanding of the passage.

Works complement faith. Faith complements grace. This is how God designed it to be.


The Faith of Abraham…

11 05 2009

There is a way in which the word “faith” is used in scripture, this being in a comprehensive sense – ex. Romans 16:26 – “obedience of faith”, Hebrews 11. Abraham’s faith in Romans 4:3 is also used in a comprehensive sense. Romans 4:12, “…walk in the steps of that faith.” Mental ascent or acknowledgment of facts in respect to the Son of God is insufficient to claim what Hebrews 10:39 calls “saving faith”.

Let the record show that in Galatians 3:6 Paul quotes Genesis 15:6 referring to “faithful Abraham” (v9). Let the record show as well that James 2:23 refers to this same passage to prove that Abraham was justified by works.

These -2- verses say the same thing in different ways.

Abraham believed and obeyed God and looked to Him for justification. He did not think he could save himself by perfect works, as this would require absolute sinlessness. No one should read more into Romans 4 than is written.

Romans 4:3 does not teach, for example, that Abraham did not work at all.
Read John 8:39 – “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.
Abraham worked!

Romans 4:3 does not teach that Abraham did not obey God.
Notice Heb. 11:8 – “By faith Abraham when he was called, obeyed to go out…
Abraham obeyed!
Please observe that this faithful act of obedience occurred before Gen. 15:6.

Romans 4:3 does not teach that Abraham was not faithful to God.
Consider again Galatians 3:9– “…the faithful Abraham.”
Abraham was faithful!

Romans 4:3 does not teach that Abraham was not justified by works.
Revisit James 2:21-24. Abraham was justified by works – but not the TYPE of works that Paul discusses in Romans 4.

The fact is that there is nothing that we can do- not even believe- which “in any sense of the word” would put God in our debt such that He “owed” us salvation.

But if anyone can understand how “faith” is necessary for our salvation even though it is a work (John 6:29), and if you are able to understand that this “work” does not “earn” salvation, then you should have no problem understanding how complying with any of the other terms of salvation does not put God in your debt – but are selected and required by God.

Next week – a discussion of the TYPES of works as found in scripture.

Faith alone is bALONEy…

5 05 2009


Casual reading and a shallow understanding  of the scriptures that relate to man’s salvation have caused too many people to errantly conclude that they can be saved with an “accept Jesus” mentality.

It ain’t so !


Moving forward from the “accept Jesus” mantra, some will say you “must” also say the sinner’s prayer (whatever that is), or repent, and/or confess, and many say you “should” be baptized (typically for a non-Biblical reason), with others saying you “must” be baptized.  Unfortunately, there are those that fall into all of the cracks mentioned above.


What do the scriptures say?  At what “point” in time does one pass from sinful loss to the blessing of salvation in the Lord?


From the very beginning of intellectual intercourse between God and man, the blessing of God has been appropriated by the faithful obedience of man.  God extends His grace to bless man, and when man faithfully responds to God, God gives His blessing.


God told Abraham to “go out” into another country.  The promise was made to bless Abraham , to give him land, and to give him numberless descendants.  Abraham went,  this was “reckoned” to him for righteousness, and God kept His promises.  The “going out” didn’t earn the blessings that Abraham would receive, but  Abraham’s faithful actions appropriated those blessings from God… blessings offered to Abraham by the grace of God.  This single example shows not only how faith and grace complement each other and how faith and works complement each other, but also how faithful obedience to God obtained the blessings that God offered by grace.


How about Jericho?  God told them march around the walls and blow their trumpets.  The result of this faithful obedience was that, by God’s grace, the walls fell and they received the city.  Who will argue that such deeds earn what was received by grace?


John 9:1-7.  The blind man went and washed in the pool of Siloam.  Washing as instructed did not earn anything for this blind man, but faithful obedience did.  Would anyone attempt to make claim this blind man would have been healed without washing as instructed? Would anyone attempt to claim that this is “water” healing and not accomplished by the power of God?


It is the same today.  Many today by their faithful obedience to God, have received His blessing of salvation made possible through Jesus Christ – – – by grace.


I will add quickly that no ONE scripture in the Bible details how salvation is accomplished through Jesus Christ.   And I add that the idea of “faith only” can not be affirmed in scripture.  Those looking for an “easy believe-ism” fix will rush to passages like…


 Acts 16:31 – “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…”


but these people never seem to ask, BELIEVE WHAT? 

Wouldn’t that include ALL that the Lord said?  and ALL that the Lord did?


Bible “faith” is a comprehensive idea that entails ALL that it means to be both a believer in, and a follower of, Jesus Christ.  This comprehensive nature of faith is affirmed in scripture – see Romans  6:16-19, 16:25, Heb 5:9 – the “obedience of faith“. 


I am yet to meet the person that will affirm “just believe” will save (with the exception of true Calvinists), and that repentance is not necessary on that path to salvation.  At this point, the only difference between myself and the pseudo “faith only” types is – HOW MANY things “must” one do before he appropriates salvation from God? 


Is the mental acknowledgement (a definition of “faith” purported by many) and the repentance required by the pseudo “faith only” types sufficient to save?  I say no!


A comparison of all conversions, as found in the book of Acts, will bear out those things that “must” be done to obtain the salvation God is offering to mankind by His grace.  In summary this logically includes:


Man must BELIEVE –  John 6:29, 8:24.

Man must REPENT –  2 Pt 3:9, Acts 26:20, 2Cor 7:10.

Man must CONFESS his belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God – Romans 10:9, Matt 10:32.

Man must be BAPTIZED (immersed in water) for the remission of sins – Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:38, 22:16. Eph. 5:26.


It is at the point of water baptism that salvation is appropriated.  This action consummates all that God has designed for man to do that man may appropriate the salvation God offers to him – by grace. 


Water baptism is the means selected by God through which man appropriates that salvation offered to man by God’s grace.


As in the past, God extends His grace to man shown today  (Titus 2:11) in the offering of His blessing of salvation.  God requires faithful obedience to appropriate that blessing which man could never earn.

This is the way God designed it.

The Liberal Gospel…

27 04 2009

The buildings are spacious and pristine.  The kitchens are well equipped, full of gourmet amenities.  The gyms are state-of-the-art and the sporting areas are lush.  The pools, saunas, indoor tracks, tennis courts, and basket ball courts call out to those longing for a place to… find rest?

I am not talking about any country club or the YMCA, but about the amenities offered by churches across America. 

Religious bodies across America have forsaken the Word of God for social programs.  It appears that it is easier for religonists to offers doughnuts and exercise to people than to preach the Gospel to them and save their souls.  And we wonder why the “Government” is in the sewer? Who is teaching the values and principles required to maintain the Constitution, and thus maintain our form of government?  It appears very few are,

Friends, forget the social programs and get busy doing what you are supposed to be doing – preaching the Gospel to a dying world – while you still have the freedoms remaining to do so!  You may find that this action will preserve those freedoms for the next generation!

The prophet Hosea 4:6 said “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” A good workout at the church gym just isn’t going to help!

Get off your duff and do what your are supposed to! Time is short.

(Next week I finally get into some true Bible teaching!  Faith alone is bALONEy !)

America – we have a problem !

20 04 2009

Religion and politics  are quite a volatile combination.  The oil & water of government – the vinegar & soda of societal rule?

Can we use “religion” to help government recover from the politics?

A cursory observance of history shows the decline of great civilizations by the acceptance, or at least the toleration, of liberalism into their culture.  Nations have their rise through conservatism: that which fosters principles and values of greatness.  Nations decline when those values are forsaken for that which is liberal. What is the best way to remove the liberal “cancer” (that erodes those values and principles) from the midst of the society it afflicts?

Historical observance also shows that “religion” will suffer as well from the same cancer of liberalism – departure from the basic tenets of faith that were used to build strong convictions, strong resolve, and strong faith.  Such departures from the basics results in spiritual decline in the least,  and complete apostasy from the core beliefs once staunchly believed at the most.

In America, the “politics” were founded upon the “religious”.  The principles of the founding Fathers, often called “Christian” values or principles, were the foundation upon which the government was built.  It should be no wonder that if the nation forsakes its foundation, it has nothing on which to build.  If there are no values, or if the values have no meaning, the Constitution is null and void.

What to do?

The foundation must be re-established.  The principles and values must be restored before we  can build government on it again.  Because government is the people, the people must be perpetually “equipped”.

Political America has forsaken the values and principles that validate, empower, and perpetuate the Constitution by which they are to govern.  The foundation is crumbling!  Power and money are the values of government corporately, with self gain being its only purpose personally.  The “common good” is only but a slogan to solicit higher taxes.  (You know the drill:  “this” is good for you – pay more taxes for “it”.)

Religious America has forsaken and/or neglected their efforts of validating and empowering Americans with the “Christian” values and principles those in government need to perpetuate the guidance of the Constitution.  “The people” and their Constitution are co-dependent upon the establishment and exercise of “Christian” values and principles for their continued existance.  This is as the Founding Fathers constructed it. Who is going to empower the people to appreciate and adhere to the values and principles required of the Constitution for  a proper co-existence?

What can be done to re-establish, maintain, and perpetuate “the foundation” of America?  I will talk about that next week…

(Next week – an indictment of Religious America.)

Apollos’ blog is published weekly – about 12 noon CST.