Tuesday, August 29, 2017
ARE WE SAVED BY FAITH AND WORKS OR ONLY BY FAITH?
If you have read some of my past blogs, you know that I help lead a Bible Study at the Falmouth Hospital. I thought I would share the one I am going to lead on Thursday. Last week we started the letter of James which is a very interesting letter because it is not addressed to a particular city or people. You can get a good eight minute description of James on You Tube at " The Bible Project." It is a general letter to be read to all of the Churches. It deals with the importance of works and faith. Because of its emphasis on "works", Martin Luther wanted to eliminate this book of the Bible because it conflicted with his idea that we are save only by faith. The Catholic Church has maintained that we are saved by both faith and works and has maintained that belief since the time of Christ. It was only 1500 years later that Martin Luther wanted and did change that belief for Protestants that works were not a saving requirement to enter heaven. Chapter 2 includes the main basis for the necessity of both faith and works.
Below is the translation that we use in the Catholic Church, the New American Bible (NAB). It is always interesting to read other translations and I always include three of them for our Bible Study. They can be found on Bible Gateway and they are The New International Version (NIV), The Living Bible (TLB) and The Message (MSG). The last two are very modern translations and help one to understand scripture in today's terms. Following Chapter 2 of James I have included some questions I developed to spur conversation. I think you will enjoy answering them, looking up references, and developing your own opinions on what they mean to you. Here is Chapter 2 of James.
James Chapter 2, New American Bible (NAB)
Sin of Partiality. 1 My brothers, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. 2 For if a man with gold rings on his fingers and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here, please,” while you say to the poor one, “Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs?
5 Listen, my beloved brothers. Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? 6 But you dishonored the poor person. Are not the rich oppressing you? And do they themselves not haul you off to court? 7 Is it not they who blaspheme the noble name that was invoked over you?8 However, if you fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.10 For whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular, has become guilty in respect to all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not kill.”Even if you do not commit adultery but kill, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom. 13 For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
Faith and Works. 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? 17 So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 Indeed someone may say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. 19 You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. 20 Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. 23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.” 24 See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? 26 For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
James 2 Questions
1. James 2 is divided into two sections
a.Vss 2:1-13 deal with the law of love of neighbor
It relates to the Beatitudes (Lk 6:20)
b.Vss 2:14-26 deal with the relationship of faith and works
Vs 1-13. There must be no discrimination or favoritism based on status or wealth
Vs 1. What should we not do?
Vs 2-4. What do we do when we discriminate?
Vs 5. Where in the bible do we hear this proclaimed by Christ? (Lk 6:20)
Who are particularly open to God?”
Vs 5-7. What have we done to the poor when we discriminate?
What do the rich do when they dishonor the poor?
Vs 8. What is the royal law?
Vs 9-11. What happens when you play up to so called “important” people?
Vs 12-13. What is the law that gives us freedom?
What happens if we judge without mercy?
What wins out? Judgment or mercy?
How can we apply this to our lives?
Vs 14-26. The Relationship of Faith and Deeds
Is this section about which is more important or that they are dependent on each other?
Paul’s perspective argues against those who claim to participate in God’s salvation because of their good deeds
Paul understands, however, the implications that true faith requires a life of love and generosity (See Gal 5:6 and 13-15)
James is aware that proper conduct can only come about with an authentic commitment to God in faith (Jas 2:18) (MSG & TLB)
Vs 14-16. Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?
What are some examples?
Vs 17. Static faith does not save
Vs 18. This sort of summarizes this whole section (Read MSG & TLB)
Vs 19-20. What happens to people who have faith without works?
Vs 21-25. Examples of Salvation History in conjunction with faith
Vs 26. Summary. Read MSG & TLB
Deacon Greg Beckel