Is there a conflict between the idea of faith alone saving us apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-9) and the focus on works as an outgrowth of our faith (James 1 and 2)?

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Is there a conflict between the idea of faith alone saving us apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-9) and the focus on works as an outgrowth of our faith (James 1 and 2)?

Post by Admin on Tue Jan 26, 2016 1:47 am

NO—There is no conflict between faith saving us apart from works and works being the outcome (or outgrowth) of our faith. Paul said, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast—Paul, Ephesians 2:8-9, which certainly supports his words to the church at Rome: Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. . . . Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from observing the law—Paul, Romans 3:20-24, 27-28. This was one of the Scriptures that persuaded Martin Luther of the heresy (truth out of balance) that had entered into Catholic doctrine. Grace—undeserved favor—is behind our salvation; we could have never earned it or been deserving of it. The grace that was lavished on us through the cross of Christ was completely and fully of God’s choice and doing. It is accomplished completely in Christ; it does not need our partnership to somehow “complete” it. Now, in the book of James, the apostle is talking about works being an outcome of the faith we profess; he says, What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But 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—James 2:14-18. It is important to keep in mind the context of James—who was he writing his epistle to? He was writing to Jewish believers who had been dispersed because of the initial persecutions against the church that had resulted in the death of Stephen (Acts 7:57-60). These believers may have rightly come to understand the false hope that the “works righteousness” of Judaism offered, but they needed to understand that the gospel message demanded an accompanying lifestyle to underscore the declarations of faith. In other words, it was not merely the words of Christ, for example, that should be known, but those words should impact the way we live. They should look like something. That is why James declared in the first chapter: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says—James 1:22.


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