Category Archives: Saved by Grace through Faith

The Church of Christ Reverses the Order of Repentance and Faith

Repentance and Faith_01

SOURCE: The Church of Christ gospel “plan” is to hear, believe, repent, confess, and be “water” baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Here it is reasoned that if one will simply perform these “5 steps,” the believer will thereby save himself.

Notice that this plan places faith before repentance.

To those in the Churches of Christ, this is “common sense” because it is believed that ‘one must believe before he can repent.’ This view arises from their understanding of both “faith” and “repentance.”

“Faith” in the Churches of Christ is understood as nothing more than ‘intellectual assent” or accepting the facts of the Christian faith. To them it is believing God’s historical testimony about Himself, Jesus Christ, and that of the rest of the Bible.

Repentance on the other hand is understood as moral “self-reformation.”

In regards to faith, those in the Churches of Christ often fail to understand that there is a deeper, more substantive aspect of faith which is believing on Jesus Christ for eternal life, and most cannot distinguish between mere intellectual belief or assent from a personal faith that is trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

Here, they will cite that “even the devils believe” (from James 2:19) in their sermons and will contend that even the “faith of devils” is the same as any other faith except that the faith of devils lacks any moral or religious good works.

Thus, their understanding gives rise to their reversal of the scriptural order of repentance and faith, and yet as we will find, there is not a single scripture in the New Testament to support their view.

To the contrary, when we consider this in light of Scripture, we find repentance actually preceding Faith:
Read the rest of this entry

CHURCH OF CHRIST: What about James 2:24 and ‘not justified by faith only’?

ARE WE SAVED BY FAITH OR WORKS

SOURCE: Members of the Church of Christ will sometimes cite James 2:24 as ‘proof’ that the believer’s justification is not by faith alone.

Here they will point out that ‘this is the only passage in the Bible where these two words (faith & alone) come together, and the Bible is very clear when it says that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.’

Keep in mind that context of James 2:24 is dealing with Abraham, and this verse concerns the time when Abraham was about to offer up his son Isaac upon the altar.

And here James asks the rhetorical question, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?”
It is here that I’d like to pose a question as it relates to the context.
Is this passage talking about Abraham’s (forensic or legal) justification where God ‘deemed, or declared Abraham as righteous’, or is the passage talking about Abraham being justified (shown, deemed, or declared as righteousness) before men?

This is a very relevant question because Romans 4 tells us that Abraham was justified before God long before Isaac was even born,

And it wasn’t by his works, but rather by his faith!
The point of all this is that the justification found in James 2:24 concerns a completely different time, circumstance, and event, which was over 20 years after the justification where “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
James 2:24 says, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?”
Yes, Abraham was justified by his works-
But was he justified (shown, deemed, or declared “as righteous”) before God or before men?

Anyone who understands James 2:24 to be talking about Abraham’s legal or forensic  justification before God has a real problem, because when Paul talks about Abraham’s justification in Romans 4, he makes it very clear that justification before God is not by works:

For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”  Romans 4:3

Unless Scripture contradicts itself— and it doesn’t since it is God’s inerrant Word, James 2:24 cannot be talking about Abraham’s legal or forensic justification before God, but rather about being ‘shown, deemed, or declared as righteous’ before men.

Looking at the context, Abraham’s justification before men by works “fulfilled” his positional justification before God, which was by faith years before.
In other words, because of his faith God ‘deemed and declared Abraham as righteous’, and he was righteous in his position; this was a legal and binding act. However, when Abraham offered up Isaac, he was living his life experience before men in a manner that was consistent with his position.
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?  And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” James 2:21-24

But there’s another point that relates to the words only and alone.

The NKJV reads: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”

The Greek word translated only here is monon, which is an adverb.
Adverbs modify adjectives, verbs, or other adverbs.
Adverbs do not modify nouns.
Adjectives modify nouns.
We know that this is an adverb (monon) and not an adjective (monhs) since Greek has a different forms for each word.
Hodges makes this comment concerning the adverb monon used here in James 2:24
“The Greek adverb “only” (monon) … does not qualify (i.e., modify) the word faith, since the form would then have been monhs. As an adverb, however, it modifies the verb justified implied in the second clause [“and not only justified by faith”]. In other words, James is saying that a by-faith justification is not the only kind of justification there is. There is also a by-works justification. The former type is before God; the latter type is before men.” 
Thus, we might paraphrase the sense of Jas 2:24 in this way: ‘You see then that a man is justified by works, and not only justified by faith.’
Hodges also makes a helpful observation that this distinction is also found in Paul’s writings in Romans 4:2. The apostle tells us that there is such a thing as “works” justification before men, but not before God:
“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Thus, the only way a man can be justified before God is by faith.
References:
1) Zane C. Hodges, The Epistle of James: Proven Character Through Testing (Irving, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 1994), 71
2) Zane C. Hodges, The Gospel Under Siege: Faith and Works in Tension, Second Edition (Dallas: Redención Viva, 1992), 34

How Justification by Faith Alone is misunderstood by the Churches of Christ

justification

SOURCE: Ask a member of the Church of Christ what the doctrine of justification by faith alone is, and they will most likely tell you ‘It is a doctrine teaching that a person can be saved simply by believing the basic facts or truths of the Christian faith.’ These facts may include believing in God, believing that the Bible is the Word of God, and believing the facts that Jesus died on the cross and rose again.

But here the Church of Christ member will often justify their rejection of this doctrine by saying, ‘But even the demons believe and of course this doesn’t do them any good whatsoever.’

Here it’s important to know that those who believe we are saved by personal faith in Christ do not believe salvation is merely by believing facts of the Christian faith, or by simply believing in some general way that Jesus lived, died on the cross and that He rose again.

Rather, we are believing God’s promise that Jesus Christ saves us.

That is, as Abraham “believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness”, we are also believing God’s promise that on the cross, Jesus took upon Himself and received in His body ALL of God’s wrath, anger, and righteous indignation for OUR sin, and that God punished Jesus (our substitute) so that He would NOT have to punish us, and raised Him from the dead.

Read the rest of this entry

Answering the Church of Christ “Faith Alone” Argument

grace_not_works

SOURCE: A person challenged me to show one verse in scripture that ‘salvation is by faith alone’. I replied with the following:

Considering the CHURCH OF CHRIST’s own standard of “necessary inference”, a person can identify this as plain as the nose on his face because there are at least 154 passages throughout the New Testament which tell us salvation is by placing faith alone in Jesus Christ.

Consider for a moment the following passages:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“Most assuredly, I say unto you, he who hears my Word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come to judgment, but has passed from death to life.” John 5:24

“…but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, lest anyone should boast.” Eph. 2:8

“We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” Galatians 2:15-16

These verses and provided passages plainly and clearly state:

* a direct relationship between salvation/ justification and faith- with nothing else being mentioned in the sentence or context, and/ or,

* a direct eternal benefit from faith- with nothing else being mentioned in the sentence or the context;

* therefore, since nothing else other than “faith” is mentioned in the thoughts or context being communicated-

Faith Alone or “faith only” is what is implied and required.

To further illustrate the above reality, as well as to show how ‘selective’ those in the Church of Christ are in applying their own standard, this individual applied the “faith only” argument to the illustration of Noah building the ark – with gopherwood “only”.

Genesis 6:14-16

“Make yourself an ark of gopherwood (only); make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch (only). And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits (only). it width fifty cubits (only), and its height thirty cubits (only). You shall make a window for the ark (only), and you shall finish it to a cubit from above (only); and set the door of the ark in its side (only). You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks (only).”

His point: It’s utterly ridiculous for the Church of Christ to assert its ‘no verse in scripture specifically says we are saved by faith-only’ argument when honest consideration is given to the biblical verse(s), text, and context of those passages.

To refuse the plainly stated truth from the Word of God that salvation is simply by grace though faith in Jesus Christ alone is like saying:

‘Noah was told to to build an ark with gopher wood, but the Scripture NEVER specifies that he was told to use gopherwood “only”.’

http://www.cofcdilemma.org/faith_alone_in_scripture.aspx