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Faith and Works

by James Jones / April 11, 2005 12:03 PM PDT

The textual differences between faith alone and works, as the Apostle Paul describes them in scripture, are distinguished expressly by their opposable disposition alone. Their juxtaposition in the inspired text serve only to demonstrate the inherent conflict of principal between the doctrine of faith for salvation and works that are the Christian endeavor, that one may prove to others and affirm for themselves what they profess to be true.Therefore works are the result of faith.

This is important to understand for religions such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and others who adhere to a works-based salvation. Work-based religions tend to try to resolve the apparent contradiction of faith and works by reconciling the fact that scripture say's both that salvation is by faith alone, but that faith alone is dead without works.

But the inspired writers of the Bible never meant for us to try to reconcile their differences. On the contrary, by allowing this conflict within us to provoke the self-realization of our own sinfulness, we come to Christ by faith in what He has done on the cross and in His Resurrection.

We are powerless to do good because we are inherently sinful. If there is no conflict, the human/religious paradox (the willingness to do good but not the power to carry it out) can never be resolved. Paul and many millions more have resolved the conflict through their own personal struggle. It is all based squarely on the theological premise that unregenerate, religious man is hopelessly and incurably lost in his sin apart from faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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That is quite true. Welcome James! Christianity is the only
by Kiddpeat / April 11, 2005 12:12 PM PDT
In reply to: Faith and Works

religion I know of that relies on faith alone. That is the scandal of the gospel that Paul talks about. My understanding is that works come from our gratitude after we are saved. Every other religion, that I know of, depends on works. This includes the folks who think God will accept them because they are good people.

Keep your head down though. The bullets fly kind of low here. Wink

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RE: Faith
by James Jones / April 11, 2005 12:21 PM PDT

Hey Kiddpeat.
I attempted to read all of the post's that responded to Cindy but it would take a lifetime. I been round here for about the last 2 years and I know what happens to post's about religion. And indeed the bullets do fly low here.

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Welcome to SE James:)
by Glenda / April 11, 2005 12:26 PM PDT
In reply to: RE: Faith

Fantastic post! I get so frustrated I usually give up:(

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RE: Welcome!
by James Jones / April 11, 2005 1:05 PM PDT
In reply to: Welcome to SE James:)

Glenda, thanks for the welcome!
Every body go easy on me. I like to write about religion!
Love James

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Does that mean I can
by Glenda / April 11, 2005 1:29 PM PDT
In reply to: RE: Welcome!

shut up now and let you and KP take over???
Whew! What a relief;)
Just don't let them get you down when they start posting nonsense in reply, The best is just to ignore them, In other words do as I say not as I do;)
Glenda

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some good reading for you
by kmarchal / April 12, 2005 5:33 AM PDT
In reply to: RE: Welcome!

www.letusreason.org

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What an entry!
by Echo2 / April 11, 2005 1:09 PM PDT
In reply to: Faith and Works

Welcome aboard James!

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I'm privileged to be part of SE,
by drpruner / April 11, 2005 3:26 PM PDT
In reply to: Faith and Works

with its superior minds.
Martin Luther cast doubt on the very canonicity of the letter of James, considering that his argumentation in chapter 2, (faith without works is dead, v.14,26), contradicts the apostle Paul?s explanation of justification ?apart from works.? (Romans 4:6) But you people have no trouble belonging to a religion that
(a) relies on faith alone, and
(b) has a canon that says such a faith is "dead."

...

You do keep James in your bibles, don't you?

BTW, James, I love your "opposable disposition," it's even better than "juxtaposition." But please use smaller words in future; I'm old. It's the principal of the thing, as we say in school.
Regards, Doug in New Mexico

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It should be obvious to you that there is no contradiction
by Kiddpeat / April 12, 2005 5:15 AM PDT

DR. I shouldn't have to point you to all of the verses that show that salvation is granted based on faith alone. Jesus said it in John 3:16. Paul says the same very eloquently in Romans 4.

Rom 4:1-8 What then shall we say that Abraham , our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about-but not before God. 3 What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked,
his faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

7 "Blessed are they
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed is the man
whose sin the Lord will never count against him." NIV


James, then, simply says that, if your faith is genuine, it will produce good works after you are saved. If it does not do so, then you have good reason to question the authenticity and quality of your faith.

Why DR, do you spend so much time looking for contradictions in what are clear Biblical teachings? One would almost think that you are trying to destroy Biblical authority. If you do that, what will you replace it with? The publications of the Watchtower?

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Luther found the contradiction, I don't.
by drpruner / April 12, 2005 6:11 AM PDT

Santiago's* statement is unmistakable; it should bother Luther or anyone who comes across it. It has to be dealt with. I deal with it by recognizing that there is no conflict, because Paul was on another topic.
Luther cast doubt on the canonicity of the letter of Santiago, considering that his argumentation in chapter 2, that faith without works is dead, contradicts the apostle Paul?s explanation of justification ?apart from works.? (Romans 4:6) He failed to recognize that Paul was speaking of works of the Jewish Law.?Romans 3:19, 20, 28. He had on ongoing battle with 'Judaizing Christians' in his career, and many of the Roman Christians were former Jews, like himself. No doubt they were attracted 'back' to works of the Law- circumcision, clothing, rituals- because the religions around them had visible symbols. It's worth repeating Gibbon's report that the Roman authorities were puzzled when they 'raided' Christian meeting places. They were under orders to confiscate and destroy any idols and such, but they kept reporting back that 'there were none, only some scrolls that these people seemed to value!'
Context.

This point is also seen in "our bible," at the famous Field Goal scripture: ?For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.? (Joh 3:16)
The KJV and others just say 'having faith' or similar. Which is more appropriate? The bible itself answers:
?And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up, that everyone believing in him may have everlasting life.? (Joh 3:14-15) As both Jesus and Nicodemus well knew, those snakebit Israelites had to recognize that the copper serpent was a provision of Jehovah, and they had to take an action in obedience to him: Crawl to it.
Moreover, all bibles show how Jesus contrasted what he meant by "having faith" with lacking such faith: ?He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life; he that disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.? (Joh 3:36)
So after the faith comes a demonstrated willingness to obey such commands as may follow. Faith, someone once said, without works is dead.

You're also ignorant of the JW position on "works." The preaching work is important to Jesus, so it's important to us; should be important to everyone. So we keep track of it, just as the Israelites kept track of their specific offerings to Jehovah in the tabernacle/temple days. But we don't keep track, as an organization, of "works" done by those whom we don't yet consider to be Witnesses. [We call ourselves "publishers," the others who associate with us are "bible students" or "interested ones."]
So in fact we follow the system you ably summarize in your next-to-last paragraph. From our publication Reasoning from the Scriptures., p. 359: [quote]
?What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.? [RSV] (A person does not earn salvation by his works. But anyone who has genuine faith will have works to go with it?works of obedience to the commands of God and Christ, works that demonstrate his faith and love. Without such works, his faith is dead.) [end quote]
Many times I've encouraged posters here to get our publications and 'see for themselves.' If you had ...

*Too many Jameses here; I'll use the Spanish for the biblical one to avoid confusion.
Regards, Doug in New Mexico

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Gee DR, I wonder why the Holy Spirit, speaking through
by Kiddpeat / April 12, 2005 12:08 PM PDT

Paul, made it so clear that salvation comes from faith alone if He really meant some combination of faith and works? Paul could not have been talking about the Old Testament law. Paul used Abraham as a prime example of saving faith, and Abraham lived long before the Old Testament law was given to Moses.

BTW, do the JWs have a thing about trying to confuse people? You wait till your last sentence to clarify your use of names.

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Santiago: Asterix. Follow the asterix.
by drpruner / April 12, 2005 3:35 PM PDT

I used to boldface them; maybe I should go back to that.

"Paul could not have been talking about the Old Testament law"
He was doing exactly that, in Romans, Colossians 2 and Ephesians 2. Colossae and Ephesus had congregations that were predominately Gentile, in the midst of religious ferment. The religions of the day were in the process of dissolution, and new religions were constantly being formed by fusing parts of old ones. There were heathen philosophies involving asceticism, spiritism, and idolatrous superstition, and these, combined with Jewish abstinence from foods and observance of days, may have influenced some in the congregation. As I said earlier, many Roman Christians had come from that city's large Jewish population.

"Paul used Abraham as a prime example of saving faith"
Context.
?Where, then, is the boasting? It is shut out. Through what law? That of works? No indeed, but through the law of faith. For we reckon that a man is declared righteous by faith apart from works of law. Or is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of people of the nations? Yes, of people of the nations also, if truly God is one, who will declare circumcised people righteous as a result of faith and uncircumcised people righteous by means of their faith. Do we, then, abolish law by means of our faith? Never may that happen! On the contrary, we establish law.? (Ro 3:27-31)

Note the contrast of the 'law of faith' with the 'law for the Jews only;' The Law.
Paul is reminding Jewish Christians that their old law was 'taken out of the way by being nailed to the torture stake.' (Col 2:14; Mt 5:17; Jer 31:31,32) So for those who were stubborn or misled by false teachers, he must teach salvation by faith instead of the Law of Moses.

Then he shifts to "Abraham our forefather." A good example in this case, because he lived before both Moses and the Greater Moses, which you pointed out. As his readers knew, Jehovah's first contact with Abram was, 'If you pack up and leave your comfortable home, I'll take very good care of you and your offspring.' Abram did just so. Works in exercise of faith, which Santiago also recognizes: Jas 2:23.

No doubt you're familiar with Hebrews 11, with its lengthy recounting of those who had the 'faith that is the assured expectation of things hoped for.' Notice, please, the works these people had to accomplish to establish their faith in Jehovah's eyes: Abram moved, and as good as sacrificed his son, even without the multiple written promises we have today: ?But he reckoned that God was able to raise him up even from the dead; and from there he did receive him also in an illustrative way.? (Heb 11:19)
Noah preached and built an ark for those who might listen.
Jacob (another James!) prophesied concerning his sons, although the prophecies were not all what a father would have wished. (Gen 49)
Moses and his parents risked their lives.
Abel, the first of Jehovah's Witnesses on earth, did lose his life for his faith. (Lu 11:51; Mt 23:35)
And on and on.
Their faith, without their works, would have been dead. Paul aptly used Abraham and details of the Law Covenant in counseling Christians at Rome, Ephesus, and Colossae; each in an appropriate way.

Again, this is not a trivial matter to modern Christians. I'm told that Luther offered his doctor's cap- a important possession- to anyone who could resolve the "contradiction" he saw. His evident solution- rewriting the bible- is hardly commendable. But then, he too lived in a day when the religions were in the process of dissolution, and new religions were constantly being formed by fusing parts of old ones. There were heathen philosophies involving asceticism, spiritism, and idolatrous superstition, combined with abstinence from foods and observance of days. Just like today. Happy

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My apologies DR. I had become complacent thinking
by Kiddpeat / April 12, 2005 4:09 PM PDT

you would know what passages I am referring to. You are quoting from the wrong context. In my defense, I think I posted this recently and you did not respond. Here is the correct passage.

Rom 4:1-8 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about-but not before God. 3 What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

7 "Blessed are they
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed is the man
whose sin the Lord will never count against him." NIV

Are you seeing it now DR? Paul says 'If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about-but not before God'. These works, as I said, cannot be referring to Old Testament law. Abraham lived before Moses gave that law.

It simply won't work DR to try to make Paul say you are saved by works. Paul is far too insistent that you are saved by faith, and not by works. I understand that this is another problem for Watchtower theology, but even the Watchtower cannot use sleight of hand to reverse the meaning of what Paul says.

Again, the deeds follow the faith and are an expression of it. That is what James is saying.

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Hmm, if only I had faith, I would also have good works
by Dragon / April 12, 2005 6:13 AM PDT

Hey wait a minute, I do have good works but with no faith!

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Hey, you leave these guys alone!
by drpruner / April 12, 2005 6:22 AM PDT

They have enough trouble just counting to three without getting lost! Happy

But seriously, folk:
Mostly all of us do good works from time to time, in spite of the "Naked Ape" within. But Christians had found a deeper meaning, because of an exchange Jesus once had with an informed Jew:
?And as he was going out on his way, a certain man ran up and fell upon his knees before him and put the question to him: ?Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit everlasting life?? 18 Jesus said to him: ?Why do you call me good? Nobody is good, except one, God.? (Mr 10:17-18)
So the standard is higher than soup kitchens, tsunami aid and the rest.

Related, from the Sermon on the Mount:
?Not everyone saying to me, ?Lord, Lord,? will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day, ?Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?? And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew YOU! Get away from me, YOU workers of lawlessness.? (Mt 7:21-23)
Of course, if the bible is just myth ...
Regards, Doug in New Mexico

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The well known phrase is that 'works without faith are dead'
by Kiddpeat / April 12, 2005 12:10 PM PDT

That's the consistent Biblical position. Works must flow from faith, and they are not an expression of merit. They are an expression of gratitude.

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It's all about plus and minus
by Chorus-Line A1-QMS / April 12, 2005 1:15 PM PDT

"Do not allow the opinions of others be the opinion of yourself." That's a minus. Happy
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
You did something good, it's a plus (+), you think you did something bad, it's guilt. You intentionally did something bad then it's a minus (-) Religion or None. Wink
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Religion X is a label.
Belief X is an idea.
Faith X is connectivity.

*SOME* claim to have Religion X and Belief X but if they are unable to establish that connection --- they do not have anything.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So hey! continue doing good. You may accumulate more rewards than those who subscribe to a *fate*

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and, if you do enough good to outweigh the bad, you will
by Kiddpeat / April 12, 2005 1:37 PM PDT

make it into paradise. CL meet DR. DR meet CL.

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I kindda like the idea...

...of making a stop over in Hell to see what it's like before I finally settle in Heaven. (and most likely I will, since I am not without sin). Devil hahahhahah and mind you, I'll probably see many familiar names. Hu! Ha!

...And as far as DR is concerned, he is passionate about his belief and I admire him for that. I'm more inclined to read his theological views than some. Happy


CL

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There is 'fate' :)
by Dragon / April 13, 2005 4:30 AM PDT

We just dont know what those fates are.

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But we do.
by Dan McC / April 13, 2005 6:47 AM PDT
In reply to: There is 'fate' :)

There are three Fates: Clotho who spins the thread of life, Lachesis who allots the length of the yarn, and Atropos who does the snip.

Dan

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(NT) (NT) Prove they exist! Were you there? :-)
by drpruner / April 13, 2005 6:53 AM PDT
In reply to: But we do.
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I didn't say they exist.
by Dan McC / April 13, 2005 6:56 AM PDT

I just gave their names.

Big on proof, are you?

Wink

Dan

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Ancient Greek Belief :)
by Chorus-Line A1-QMS / April 13, 2005 7:00 AM PDT
In reply to: But we do.

The unseen power that rules the destinies of men was personified by the ancient Greeks under the name of Moira, or, more generally, as three sisters Moirai, or Fates, whose names were Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos.


CL

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(NT) (NT) Fate and Free Will --- another interesting topic. :)
by Chorus-Line A1-QMS / April 13, 2005 7:46 AM PDT
In reply to: There is 'fate' :)
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might be a good one
by Dragon / April 13, 2005 12:00 PM PDT

Sometimes people get tired of it for awhile and would rather let it lie.

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(NT) (NT) Really? Me, too!
by Dan McC / April 13, 2005 2:47 AM PDT
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Luther was right
by James Jones / April 12, 2005 6:50 AM PDT
In reply to: Faith and Works

when the Apostle Paul talks about "faith alone" he is talking about the doctrin of Salvation. When James talks about faith and works he is talking about the doctrine of good works as a result of faith. So there is no contradiction, unless you want to make a contradiction about it. Grin

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Sorry, James, but the Gospel makes it clear works are needed
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / April 12, 2005 1:43 PM PDT
In reply to: Luther was right

"Not everyone who says 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
"By their fruits you shall know them."
On being asked what one should do for salvation, He said "give everything you have to the poor and follow me."

Faith without works are not enough, James!

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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The Bible also says
by Glenda / April 12, 2005 2:10 PM PDT

That if you have Faith you have Works. Without Faith work is dead, and if you don't have works then your Faith is lacking, Something like that:) It all goes together DK

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