[GCFL-discuss] salvation by...
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gcfl-discuss at gcfl.net
Wed May 12 19:08:51 CDT 2004
My answer to this verse when somebody brings it up is that a true and honest
faith will produce the works that James is talking about. They are not so
much a requirement for salvation, but a by-product of a faith that is
required for salvation. I have included a copy of that Matthew Henry had to
say on the topic. If you want to read it yourself you can find both the
concise and complete editions at http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/ .
It is about halfway down the page.
Referring to a man who knows much more then I do.
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary (this is the short version)
Those are wrong who put a mere notional belief of the gospel for the whole
of evangelical religion, as many now do. No doubt, true faith alone, whereby
men have part in Christ's righteousness, atonement, and grace, saves their
souls; but it produces holy fruits, and is shown to be real by its effect on
their works; while mere assent to any form of doctrine, or mere historical
belief of any facts, wholly differs from this saving faith. A bare
profession may gain the good opinion of pious people; and it may procure, in
some cases, worldly good things; but what profit will it be, for any to gain
the whole world, and to lose their souls? Can this faith save him? All
things should be accounted profitable or unprofitable to us, as they tend to
forward or hinder the salvation of our souls. This place of Scripture
plainly shows that an opinion, or assent to the gospel, without works, is
not faith. There is no way to show we really believe in Christ, but by being
diligent in good works, from gospel motives, and for gospel purposes. Men
may boast to others, and be conceited of that which they really have not.
There is not only to be assent in faith, but consent; not only an assent to
the truth of the word, but a consent to take Christ. True believing is not
an act of the understanding only, but a work of the whole heart. That a
justifying faith cannot be without works, is shown from two examples,
Abraham and Rahab. Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for
righteousness. Faith, producing such works, advanced him to peculiar
favours. We see then, ver. ( 24 ) , how that by works a man is justified,
not by a bare opinion or profession, or believing without obeying; but by
having such faith as produces good works. And to have to deny his own
reason, affections, and interests, is an action fit to try a believer.
Observe here, the wonderful power of faith in changing sinners. Rahab's
conduct proved her faith to be living, or having power; it showed that she
believed with her heart, not merely by an assent of the understanding. Let
us then take heed, for the best works, without faith, are dead; they want
root and principle. By faith any thing we do is really good; as done in
obedience to God, and aiming at his acceptance: the root is as though it
were dead, when there is no fruit. Faith is the root, good works are the
fruits; and we must see to it that we have both. This is the grace of God
wherein we stand, and we should stand to it. There is no middle state. Every
one must either live God's friend, or God's enemy. Living to God, as it is
the consequence of faith, which justifies and will save, obliges us to do
nothing against him, but every thing for him and to him.
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