Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 1 (Part Seventeen)

Is Salvation by Faith or Works? 
Skeptics say that James disagreed with the Apostle Paul on how one gains salvation. James wrote: "You see that a man is to be declared righteous by works, and not by faith alone." (James 2:24 NWTAnd Paul says at Romans 3:28 (ERV): "We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law." Can they both be right? Many people have lost faith due to this seeming inconsistency or simply do not know how to answer it. 
However we see that Paul was describing righteousness made apart from law, that is to say the Mosaic Law (Romans 3:21). Many Christians were trying to prove themselves righteous by works of that law. This led them to boast about their works and imagine that they were saved by means of them.  Paul instead reasoned that since everyone is a sinner we are all are held accountable to God (Romans 3:19,23). Therefore, the Mosaic Law only made us conscious of our sins. - Romans 3:20 
That is why Paul introduced a new law, not the Mosaic Law, but the law of faith (Romans 3:27). So at Romans 3:28 (NIV) he says: "For we maintain that a person is justified apart from the works of the [Mosaic] law[, but by the law of faith.]" 
James picks up at this point by reminding his readers that true faith is more than believing. He says: "You believe there is one God, do you? You are doing quite well. And yet the demons believe and shudder." (James 2:19 NWTTelling us what kind of faith is alive (and therefore able to declare us righteous), James says: "do you care to know, O empty man, that faith apart from works is inactive?" (James 2:20-23 NWT). We cannot say that we have faith if we don't act on it, for faith is alive only if we have works to prove it, the works of the law of faith in Jesus. There is no contradiction, for they were describing the same thing. 

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