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Faith, Which Works by Love
One of the primary doctrines of Christianity is that salvation is by grace through faith, not by works. Yet this has been turned around by traditions and theology of some, on one side of the spectrum, to a salvation by works doctrine, as in keeping the sacraments. On the other side of the spectrum, the Protestants have adopted a faith alone doctrine. Both, I believe, have serious problems, yet the two views encompass the major part of Christendom. Plain Talk holds that the faith which is effective, the faith that saves works through love. (Galatians 5: 6)
Is faith really necessary?
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11: 6)
It would be silly to claim to serve a God whose existence is denied and then there would be no motivation to serve if there was no reward. This is how we were created.
Do works save us?
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (Ephesians 2: 8, 8)
Certainly we can see that a response in which we might claim credit as having earned the reward or which we may boast of having gained the reward based on our accomplishment is out of the picture. But before we close the door on works completely, we must ask are there other categories of response? Does this verse and its corollaries preclude all obedience for salvation? The following verse and its corollaries tell us it does not.
And having been made perfect, He became to all those that obey Him, the source of eternal salvation. (Hebrews 5: 9)
What must we believe to support our claim of faith in God?
We must assent or agree to the truth of certain propositions about God/
This is faith at the basic, assent level. Even the demons believe that God is One, but they are not thereby saved.
What is the status of faith without love?
And if I have the gift of prophesy, and know all mysteries, and all knowledge; and if I have faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13: 2)
Why is this so?
For several reasons:
How does love work?
When faith is combined with love, our faith takes on a personal value. Our faith is no longer merely assent to certain abstract propositions but now it becomes assent to certain truths that relate to me as a person. God is no longer just the Creator but he my Creator who loves me to the extent of giving His Son to die for me. Jesus is my Lord and my Savior who died for me and who commands my uttermost respect and love. He is the One who has done everything for me; this creates not only an obligation but also a desire to do His will. We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4: 19)
What does faith combined with love produce?
When faith is combined with love:
Are we saved at this point?
Many in the religious world would say yes, but the Scriptures tell us that our faith is still ineffective. We have only been given the right to become a child of God; we are not one yet.
Even so faith, if it has no works is dead, being by itself. (James 1: 17)
But are you willing to recognize you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless. (James 1: 20)
At this point, what question are we constrained to ask?
Brethren, what shall we do? (Acts 2: 37)
What was the answer?
And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2: 38)
What happens at baptism?
When we by faith repent and are baptized:
What does Jesus do upon our faith and obedience?
When we believe and obey by repenting and being baptized in water, Jesus richly and abundantly, without measure, pours forth the Holy Spirit upon us immersing us with the water and the Spirit. As we come forth from that experience we are born again, born of water and the Spirit and become a child of God. (John 3: 3, 5) The Spirit remains with us to indwell us.
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3: 5)
Is baptism and outward sign of an inward grace?
This term is used to justify the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, a sign that we are saved by merely believing, without love and without obedience. The Scriptures on the other hand state:
And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you---not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience---through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 3: 21)
And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name. (Acts 22: 16)
Do we earn salvation by being baptized?
Nothing could be further from the truth. When we do all that our Lord has commanded (as if that were possible) we would still be unprofitable servants. (Luke 17: 10) Those that have the heart of a servant, find nothing to boast about when baptized. On the contrary we are submitting our will to the will of God.
Baptism is God’s gift to us so that we might know and have assurance that according to God’s plan our faith is effective in accomplishing what He has promised. That being said we are aware that many have made baptism into a work of righteousness for which it was not intended. They have perverted the gospel. Baptism is a work of faith; it proceeds from faith in God; it is motivated by love for God; and it was always intended to perfect our faith so that we might be justified by faith.
Salvation is by the grace of God through faith, which works (repentance and baptism) by love.
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Last Update 09/26/12