Posted December 10th, 2011 at 08:04 AM by Lois
Faith without works is dead. That is true. But does this Bible passage mean what unhealthy churches say it does, in equating works with their list of things a Christian must do to be saved?
We are saved because of what Jesus did for us by dying in our place. If works could have saved people, then the law that God put into place for the Jews would have accomplished this. The Bible is very vocal in that it did not.
Works, as mentioned in the book of James, are our actions. Faith without works is dead- not because works are essential to our salvation- but because if one has faith in God it will be evidenced by their actions. You can't have real faith with nothing to show for it. However, in those actions, there is no salvation made, kept or bought. They are simply a natural result of our faith in God.
Back in the early church, people wanted to add rules to be saved. This thought is nothing new. People seem to have a hard time accepting by faith that Jesus paid the price completely for their salvation. He said it was finished. People keep wanting to add conditions to our salvation. So let's look at the early church....
The second chapter of Galatians continues with Paul telling about his past. This is where he starts to show the Galatians the problem that false brothers caused with their false teachings.
Chapter 15 of Acts tells in more detail about what Paul shares happened in Jerusalem. I encourage you to take the time to read Acts 15. The men who came to Antioch from Judea, who were teaching that the Gentiles must be circumcised in order to be saved, had caused a sharp division. This division caused the believers to send a delegation of people, including Paul & Barnabas, to Jerusalem in order to consult with the apostles and other elders.
At the meeting, some proclaimed that the Gentiles must be circumcised and made to obey the law of Moses. There is lots of discussion and then Peter addresses them all, reminding them that God made no distinction between the Jews and Gentiles and purified the Gentile's hearts by faith. He then asks why they are trying to test God by making the Gentiles do what even the Jews could not follow? He states that they are saved through the grace of God.
James later shares similar thoughts and they decide to write a letter to the believers in Antioch, Syria & Cilicia that states they will not burden the Gentiles with anything more than four requirements. These are listed in verse 29 of Acts 15.
So things haven't changed and adding lists of things to do in order to be saved is hundreds upon hundreds of years old. The problem now is that Christianity has split itself into so many different groups that there is now no longer one place for people to go in order to sort out what isn't proper teaching. We can't send a delegation to Jerusalem to consult with the...