Thursday, April 7, 2016

Types of 'Works'

In Scripture, we see three different types of "works." They are:
  1. Works of the Law: These are "works" you do in order to fulfill rules and regulations. These are what Paul is speaking about in Romans 3:28-30, and what Romans 4 is addressing. These are entirely legalistic requirements.
  2. Good Deeds: These are "works" you do in order to help your fellow man. For the Christian, these should follow after salvation. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, looking after orphans and widows, etc., etc., etc. Ephesians 2:10 informs us that we were created and ordained for these kinds of "works." If one is not careful, these can easily become legalistic requirements.
  3. Faith In Action: These are "works" that belong to, correspond to, are equal to and work with faith in order to perfect and complete that faith. They are inseparable from it. Without these, faith in and of itself, by itself, is useless and deadabsolutely. These are what James is speaking about in James 2:14-26.

Was Abraham obeying some Law when he offered his son Isaac up as a sacrifice to God? No! So obviously his "works" were not Works of the Law. Was Abraham performing some good deed when he offered his son Isaac up as a sacrifice to God? No! So obviously his "works" were not Good Deeds. So what kind of "works" was he engaged in? Faith In Action.

The man-made formula Faith + Nothing = Salvation + Works is a formula belonging to the devil and straight from the pit of hell. Allow me to prove it. Let us imagine that I am a murderer and a rapist. If you come preaching the Gospel to me, what do I have to do? Do I only have to believe? Will I be justified "by faith alone"? So, I can believe only, be justified "by faith alone," and go on murdering and raping? Show me anywhere in the Bible where this is taught.

Do you want to see the formulas that God presents in His Holy Word?
"[His] faith was working with his [Faith In Action], and as a result of the [Faith In Action], faith was perfected. ... You see that a man is justified by [Faith In Action], and not by faith alone." (Jam. 2:22, 24)
"Repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:15)
"He who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven will enter [into heaven]." (Matt. 7:21)

Think about it! Faith In Action is never far from real Faith. The two walk hand-in-hand. They are inseparable. As John Calvin has said, "Good works are always connected with faith." Granted, I think he most likely meant Good Deeds, which is still true, but Faith cannot be Faith without Faith In Action. Read Hebrews 11 some time. If Noah simply believed God and did not build the ark, his Faith would have been fruitless, useless, dead, and in vain. If the woman with the issue of blood had not touched Jesus' garment, her Faith that simply touching it would heal her would have been fruitless, useless, dead, and in vain. If Peter did not step out of the boat onto the water, his Faith that he could walk on the water would have been fruitless, useless, dead, and in vain. Faith by itself is useless and dead (Jam. 2:17). Do you know another word for "by itself"? How about "alone"?

If only those who obey the will of God the Father will enter into heaven, what does that say about those who have Faith but disobey the Father? If Faith alone saves a person (as Sola Fide teaches), then a person should be able to live like the devil his/her entire life and still make it into heaven. After all, they have faith, and faith alone. Yet, Scripture repudiates this perversion everywhere! Obedience is part of true Faith. You see it clear as day in Abraham offering Isaac up as a sacrifice to God. You see it clear as day in Noah building the ark. As John Owen has said, "Obedient faith is what saves." The very nature of Faith is to be Obedient.

Repentance is part of true Faith, as well. It is Faith In Action and it is Obedience. It is the correct response to having genuine Faith. Repentance may be described as doing a complete 180 degree turnabout. If I used to be a murderer and a rapist, the moment I truly believe in the Gospel, I will stop what I was doing previously, believe what God has said about it and about me, turn around and start doing the opposite. "Bear [evidences] in keeping with repentance" (Luke 3:8). If there is no Repentance, then there is no real Faith.

Nowhere in Scripture will you find the theologically bankrupt teaching that faith alone, in and of itself, by itself, saves an individual apart from all other things, whether they ever exist or not. If it did, then we could say nothing to the murdering rapist who professes to believe in Christ Jesus. After all, he is justified by faith alone.

The doctrine of Sola Fide leads to antinomian licentiousness. It posits that "faith alone" is an absolute promise whether an individual repents or not, or is obedient or not, or grows in holiness or not. Scripture repudiates such false teachings. Scripture makes clear that if there is no repentance, no obedience, no growing in grace and truth and holiness, then it matters not what faith they have or profess to have because it is ingenuous. True and genuine faith repents, true and genuine faith obeys, and true and genuine faith grows in holiness. This is borne out from the whole counsel of God's Word, not in individually isolated verses eisegetically used by those who try to defend Sola Fide. A majority view on an issue does not mean that view is correct.
Our only rule of faith and practice is the Word of God. We have . . .
   no creed to defend,
   no denomination to maintain, and
   no confession to bind our minds.

"What do the Scriptures teach?" That is and must be our only concern. If the plain teachings of Holy Scripture appear to destroy or contradict our understanding of any doctrine, then let us relinquish the doctrine, or acknowledge the fact that our minds are both depraved and minuscule, and bow to the revelation of God.
—Don Fortner
"What do the Scriptures teach?" This should be our banner in the pursuit of truth. Confessions, creeds, denominations, doctrines, systems of theology, and traditions all contain errors because they are man-made. We should never be dogmatic over any of them. Scripture, if we humble ourselves before it, can sort these errors out and direct us as to the truth. If we are wise, we will only be dogmatic where Scripture is dogmatic. Anything that does not measure up to Scripture is to be rejected. Sola Fide is contra-Scripture.