Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Dilemma

If we are saved by faith alone, then James is wrong, which means Scripture is wrong. James said that Abraham was justified (declared righteous before God) by his worksand not by faith alone. Paul had said that Abraham was justified (declared righteous before God) by his faith. If it is by faith only, then James' statement is in error. Either it is one or the other, or it is both together. A couple verses earlier James contends that faith by itself, in and of itself, without works, is incomplete and imperfect. If we are saved by faith only, without the need for anything else, then faith would be perfect and complete, which again means James is wrong, which means Scripture is wrong, which would mean that Martin Luther was correct in wanting to remove James from Scripture, which begs the question, "Why did we include it as part of the canon?"

Paul and James should not be pitted against each other. They should be brought together in harmony. Abraham was justified both by his faith and by his works when he offered Isaac as a sacrifice. Everywhere that Paul speaks of faith and works of the Law, he is addressing Jews who seek to obtain salvation by keeping the Law.

Anyone who seeks to obtain salvation by keeping the Law or by doing good deeds will find themselves in Hell. Remember, Paul argues that the Law is good and right and holy, so do not have a negative attitude toward the Law. There is nothing wrong with keeping the Law (such as the Ten Commandments) or with doing good deeds. The problem is when someone thinks they can obtain salvation from keeping the Law or doing good deeds. We should not look to our works (works of the Law, good deeds) for salvation, nor should we look to our faith for salvation (having faith in our faith). We should be ever looking to and upon Christ Jesus for salvation and nowhere else.

As John Owen has said, "Obedient faith is what saves." Paul argues, in Romans, that you are either slaves to and obedient to sin and the devil, or you are slaves to and obedient to God. There is no other option. If you read carefully through the New Testament, you will see all sorts of commands/demands for obedience from the Christian, including commands/demands for holiness. Abraham was obedient in offering Isaac, which is why James said that his works completed/perfected his faith and that he was justified by his works.