Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Faith works love other

I read 'Introduction Two' today in 'Future Grace'...it was amazing...how cool are some of the Confessions?So most of what is about to follow is inspired (copied) from that, because i wanted to share and think over some of the stuff that i had found so helpful. Also, Nicola and Anna have recently blogged on grace and works...and i can't resist sticking my oar in.

So how is the faith which justifies us intrumental in the cause of our good works, as i believe it is? A good place to start looking at this is probably James. In James 2:18 he says 'But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. So, James claims to be able to show people his faith by his works. How? Because his works lead to his faith? NO! Of course not, how unbiblical do you want to get? But because his works are evidence of his faith. James 2:26 says that faith without works is dead. Our justifying faith is not only a convicting one, it is a compelling one. No one is justified by works, lets not mix up sanctification and justification. Justification is once for all, and God is the agent of it entirely. Works, though of course planned and instrumented by God require us to be obedient, and to love God, to be believing in Him and His promises, and that they are better than the evil we did beforehand. Romans 4:5 tells us that 'while we were still sinners, Christ died for us'. While we were still sinners we were counted righteous, forgiven, and given perfect eternal access to God. We were justified, but we were ungodly. We were still smoking weed, buying FHM and drinking too much. And now we don't. Why? Not because not smoking weed or drinking too much ensures our salvation, but because of the love and faith that has grown out of our relationship with God. We have been graciously shown, and are trying to live in, the light.

I'm now going to let some older, wiser men speak instead of me. A great deal of the following is found in 'Future Grace' p22-23.

Article 6 of the Augsburg Confession (1530) says this:
'the churches teach that this faith should bring fourth good fruits, and men ought to do the good works commanded of God because it is God's will, and not on any confidence of meriting justification before God by their works'
Article 30:
'because the Holy Spirit is recieved by faith, our hearts are now being renewed and...are able to bring forth good works...the doctrine of justification by faith...does not forbid good works...but shows what way we may do good works'

So here there is a clear link between our saving faith and our good works. The two don't just work in unison, but our faith is 'the way we may do good works'. Acting on our faith is what kills sin at its root, and makes us want to do good works.

Article 14 of the First Helvetic Confession (1536) says this:
'From faith love grows as a fruit, and from this fruit come all sorts of virtues and good works...(and though these are the) fruit of faith...we do not ascribe their piety of attained salavtion to such works, but to the grace of God'

This affirms that love grows from faith and produces good works, and also that it all relies on God's grace. Faith itself performs good works.

The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England (1571)
'we are justified by faith alone...albeit that good works which are the fruit of faith which follow after our justification (which) can not put away our sin...are pleasing to God in Christ'

So, our good works are the natural product of our justification, and our pleasing to Christ. Thats pretty clear! One more.

Chapter 11 of the Westminster Confession of Faith:
'2) faith...is the alone instrument of justification, yet it is not alone in the person justified but is ever accompanied by all the other saving graces and is not dead faith, but works by love'

This links us to Galatians 5:6 'For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.' So our faith is not dead. Our faith expresses itself though love, through good works. What a key word 'expresses' is there. Our faith, if it is real and persevering will express itself through love. Our faith leads to our good works. So the question of 'why should we do good works' is a bit of a non starter because if we are really saved, we don't have a choice, we are convicted, and then compelled. And if we don't feel compelled surely the fact that they are pleasing to God is enough to get us going? Maybe the question should be where do our good works come from? Our good works, i believe, come from the faith in the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ, both in the past, the present, and the future...justified, then sanctified.

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