Saturday, November 24, 2012

faith and works

Good morning brothers and sisters,
The Protestant Reformation was a time of debate over the core beliefs and structure of the church. The main idea for Martin Luther and those like John Calvin (the father of the Reformed tradition the Presbyterian Church is a part of) is that we are saved by God's grace through faith alone. The Roman Catholic point of view is that our good works are also part of our salvation. This passage from James was very important in supporting the Catholic argument. Of course, like most arguments, both sides overstated their disagreements. Catholics believe faith is important and Protestants believe that faith leads to good works. No matter what tradition we identify with we know that God calls us to live our faith, which is what James is saying.

God bless,

James 2:14-26
14What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

18But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. 20Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. 23Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.

24You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? 26For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

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