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The summary of these Scriptures is that, on the basis of His constituting the ungodly man righteous by his act of imputation, God simultaneously declares the ungodly man to be righteous in His sight. The now-justified ungodly man is then, to employ Martin Luther's expression, simul iustus et peccator ('simultaneously a righteous man and a sinner'). Therefore the doctrine of justification means that, in God's sight, the ungodly man who is now 'in Christ,' has perfectly kept the moral law of God, which also means that 'in Christ' the penitent sinner in God's sight has perfectly loved God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength and his neighbour as himself.
The doctrine of justification by faith alone, that is, by faith in Christ apart from all our works, is the article of the standing or falling church. By contrast, the Mormon church teaches anti-Pauline nomism (a form of 'legalism'). Paul condemned the Judaizers' teaching in his day (Galatians 1:6-9) and, were he living today, he would obviously denounce the Mormon church in the exact same terms.
Paul never represents faith in Christ as a work but, rather, as a divine gift whereby the sinner looks away from himself and his work to Christ's 'doing and dying' and, since Paul always sets faith in Christ - that is, the receiving and resting upon what God has done for us and freely offers to us in Christ - over against even our 'good works' (Titus 3:5), then it must be by faith alone that sinners are justified. Paul's sustained emphasis on justification by faith in Christ as alone the justifying instrument is not exactly rarely found in Scripture, but dominates his work on the subject, e.g.: Galatians 2:16; 3:1-14, 22-24; 5:2-11; 6:12-16; Romans 1:17; 3:20-22, 24,28; 4:2-12; 5:1, 12-19; 8:1,28-39;9:30-32; 11:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5.Faith without Works is Dead?
As has been made clear, anyone who looks not only to the work of Christ but also to his own 'good' works for his justification and/or counsels others that they must do the same becomes guilty of the same heresy that the Judaizers committed in the churches of Galatia and thus falls under the Pauline anathema of Galatians 1:8-9.
The Mormon church has a clear tendency to quote only verses that seem to support their view - while ignoring those that are detrimental to their cause. Galatians 5:1-7 reads:
1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who receives circumcision that he is bound to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love. 7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?
Paul answers his questions in other Scriptures and, for the Mormon, they are found in these answers:
v1. You have submitted again to the yoke of Mormonism;
v3. Mormonism has put you back under the law which means you are bound to keep the whole law (which is impossible for any man!);
v4. You have been severed from Christ and have fallen away from grace;
v5. You have rejected the Spirit who leads you to righteousness through faith in Christ alone - yes, faith working in love. The first part of v6 occurs again in 6:15 and in 1 Corinthians 7:19, in which verses the second part may be found to parallel the phrase 'faith expressing itself through love.' The phrase is therefore more or less synonymous with 'a new creation' (6:15) and 'keeping God's commands' (1 Corinthians 7:19). The verb energoumene (often translated 'expressing itself') is translated in the New International Version: 'The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love'. This links up with two of Paul's basic thoughts expressed elsewhere: first, that love is the fulfilment of the law (Romans 13:10), and second, that faith leads to the development of the fruit of the Spirit in which love is prominent (Galatians 5:22). It is through love that faith reveals and proves itself, as the Epistle of James indicates.
Many, like the Galatians, were running well - as you may have been while studying with 'Protestant' groups - but have been hindered by Mormonism!
1 Corinthians 13:2 reads: 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
Love is the most excellent way for a Christian to use his spiritual gifts and the word agape ('love') is used in 1 Corinthians 13 and of the deep and abiding affection of God and Christ for each other (John 15:10; 17:26) and for us (1 John 4:9). It is also used of Christians in their relationship with one another (e.g., John 13:34, 35). Often more intense and deeper in meaning than philos ('having affection for,' Matthew 10:37; Luke 7:5, et al.), it is quite distinct from eros, sensual or sexual love. Christians are to love, because they belong to God, and 'God is love' (1 John 4:8). The New Testament combines the two Old Testament commandments of love to God (Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12) and of love to one's neighbour (Leviticus 19:18) into a double commandment (Luke 10:25-37; Matthew 22:37 ff.; cf. Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8). It sees them embodied together in Him. Christ awakens love for Him in even the most bruised and miserable people. His call to 'Go and do likewise' demands action which is capable of awakening love in my neighbour. This is the meaning given by the gospel to the popular concept of love for one's neighbour. Christ meets me in the other person, whether he is brother or enemy, neighbour or godless, helper or beggar. He gives me his love and fills me with it, so that it flows over to the other. This moves love to my neighbour out of the dangerous region of new legalism, or proud charity, and puts it under the sway of love, which both takes and gives. It opens up a wide sphere of Christian action (Ephesians 4:25 ff.) and creates new fellowship and new service of God (Mark 12:28 ff.; cf. Hosea 6:6). The King James Version translates agape in this passage as 'charity' - an inaccurate translation!
James has much to say about love expressing itself through works and is the obvious passage chosen by those teaching salvation by works righteousness, as the Mormon church does. James 2:5-11 reads:
Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder.' If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
In verse 8 James proceeds to his moral argument in refutation of the practice of showing favoritism (v8-11). Here it is not a question of mere incongruity but of the rightness or wrongness of showing partiality. The commandment to love one's neighbor as oneself (Leviticus 19:18) is not described as 'the royal law' simply because of its lofty character. It is called 'royal' because it is the supreme law to which all other laws governing human relationships are subordinate. It is the summation of all such laws (Matthew 22:36-40). The one who keeps this supreme law is 'doing right.' The New International Version has translated kalos ('well') as 'right,' since it seems to be contrasted with committing sin in v9. The right course of action is to show favour to everyone, whether he is rich or poor. Love overlooks such superficial distinctions as wealth and quality of clothing. It shows kindness to a person in spite of any distasteful qualities he may have. Whereas v8 depicts the positive example of one who fully keeps the law, v9 sets forth the negative example of one who breaks it. To 'show favoritism' is not merely to be guilty of an insignificant fault or social impropriety - it is sin. Such a conclusion is based on solid legal ground rather than general human opinion. Those engaging in partiality 'are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.' Some understand this as a reference to the law in general; others assert that the law referred to is stated in Leviticus 19:15 or Deuteronomy 16:19. James, however, has already cited the law he is referring to. It is the 'royal law' quoted in v9. Anyone who shows favoritism breaks the supreme law of love for his neighbour, the law that comprehends all laws governing one's relationships to one's fellowman.
Since the Mormon church claims that the book of James (2:14-26) proves that 'good works' are necessary for salvation, it is obviously important to examine the passage:
14What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 25Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? 26For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
A cursory reading of the Book of James causes many to join cults, such as the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, in thinking that this passage in James 2 teaches salvation by works - particularly these sentences:
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:20)
'You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone' (James 2:24)
'Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.' (James 2:26)
Many others join the Mormons in maintaining that, though a person has faith in Jesus Christ, he must work to gain or keep salvation. They don't realize that James is talking about the conduct of the Christian. Works are a result of faith, a life lived out of love for God. Many only see Christ through the life of a Christian. There must be something to see, some fruit of the life within us. If we profess a Holy Christ, we must live holy lives and our daily actions must demonstrate the living God within. Thus the truth is that works are a result of Christ's salvation given us, not something we do to gain the free gift of salvation.
If anyone had a reason to glory because of his works, it was Abraham, yet Romans 4:2 states:
For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. (italics added)
Obviously some may argue - as you might do - that this seems to contradict James 2:21:
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
But it is important to bear in mind the context of every Biblical passage and the problem each of these writers were inspired to address. Paul was attacking Pharisaism. While the Pharisees were self-righteous and pointed to their outward appearance as a standard of righteousness, James addresses Antinomianism, which literally means 'against law'. Antinomians held that if a person's beliefs were correct, obeying a moral code was unnecessary. To the Pharisees, Paul warned that works would profit little apart from a true faith. James tells the Antinomians that a true faith should produce good works. These two thoughts go hand in hand. Because Abraham had a true faith, his works naturally followed. He believed God, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness. His faith was turned into action.
However, James in this passage is basically answering the question, 'How can we tell whether or not a person has true faith?' All that follows in chapter 2 answers this question. James begins by asking, 'What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?' (2:14). Notice the oft-neglected little word 'says'. Some people have genuine faith; others have an empty profession of faith that is not real. The first group of people who have genuine faith have works to back up the fact that their faith is genuine. Those who make an empty profession of faith show their lack of true faith by the absence of works. So, James answers his question by pointing out that you can tell whether a person has true faith by the test of works. You may well have encountered people who belong to the 'Once Saved Always Saved' doctrine - and insist that a person can claim to have faith and yet continue to lie, cheat, and even murder - and still be a Christian. James clearly refutes their false doctrine.
Incidentally, it is the clear evidence of the vile behaviour of Smith and Young, et al, as well as their horrendous heretical doctrines, that proves comprehensively that they were not Christians! You would do well to undertake a thorough examination of their lives from the evidence which originates from the Mormon church (e.g. Journal of Discourses, and History of the Church) as well as the written records of eye-witnesses who kept diaries at the time. Again, the Tanners have thoroughly exposed these deceivers at their website:
This is the opening example of foolish boasting, from Joseph Smith, on the Tanner's home page:
'Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on top at last. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet...When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go.' (Vol. 6, p. 408, 409)
Strange that we know that Smith died in a gunfight in which he killed two men, but I see no evidence that the devil has 'gone'!
Martin Luther was right when he concluded that James 2 is not teaching that a person is saved by works or by personal merit. Rather a person is 'justified' (declared righteous before God) by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. In other words, genuine faith will always result in or be accompanied by good works in the saved person's life. We should also keep in mind that James was writing to Jewish Christians ('to the twelve tribes' - James 1:1) who were in danger of giving nothing but lip-service to Jesus. His intent, therefore, was to distinguish true faith from false faith. He shows that true faith results in works, which become visible evidences of faith's invisible presence. In other words, good works are the 'vital signs' indicating that faith is alive. Apparently some of these Jewish Christians had made a false claim of faith. It is this spurious boast of faith that James was condemning. Merely claiming to have faith is insufficient. Genuine faith is evidenced by works. Indeed, as someone wrote:
Workless faith is worthless faith; it is unproductive, sterile, barren, dead! Great claims may be made about a corpse that is supposed to have come to life, but if it does not move, if there are no vital signs, no heartbeat, no perceptible pulse, it is still dead. The false claims are silenced by the evidence.
Apart from the spirit, the body is dead; it is a lifeless corpse. By analogy, apart from the evidence of good works, faith is dead. It is lifeless and non-productive. That is what James is teaching in James 2:17,26. His focus is on the nature of faith, not on the reward of works. Galatians and Romans make it clear that works play absolutely no part in our salvation - our justification - although they are a good guide to the degree of sanctification of a believer!
We find in 1 Peter 1:5 that we are kept by the power of God through faith, not works:
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
And Ephesians 3:17 informs us:
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.
To those who try and maintain that salvation is gained - or kept - by following laws and ordinances, the apostle Paul makes it damningly clear that following the law never saved anyone. No one can keep the whole law! To fail in one point is to fail in all. To those who pile on the laws and commandments as the Pharisees did in Jesus' day (and Papal Roman Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, etc., do today) we issue the challenge to try and recite every one of the laws connected with their religion, let alone claim they are capable of keeping them to the nth degree.
This is what Paul has to say about laws and ordinances:
For He [Christ] is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace. (Ephesians 2:14-15)
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross. (Colossians 2:14)
Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20; italics added)
The law has no power to save from sin, it merely points out man's imperfection, and his need for salvation. To those who insist that you must work for your exaltation Paul asks the questions:
Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians 3:3)
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. (Romans 3:27)
Paul questions why the Galatians, who 'began in faith,' now thought they could be exalted because of their works? He tells them clearly: Don't be foolish. Works bring boasting. The law of faith excludes it.
Because orthodox Christians accept the clear Biblical fact that salvation comes by faith alone (but, salvation which comes through faith alone will not remain alone!) the cults (Papal Roman Catholics, Mormons etc.) think those outside their group believe all they have to do is say they believe and they can just go and have a good time, deliberately sinning as much as they wish and they will be alright for Jesus has taken care of everything. Of course there are some lunatics masquerading in Christian circles (e.g. Dr R.T. Kendall) who make out that this is the case - he even wrote a book called 'Once Saved, Always Saved' - high-lighted at:
www.thechristianexpositor.org/page41 - which opens with an example of such thinking.
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