Conservative Soul-Mate

Authentic faith is the root and we're not saved by the fruit but, as James and Jesus said, fruit is important to know we have the root of authentic faith. Luke 6:43 "For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit".

We can never have enough fruit to earn our salvation, but we must have enough oil in our HS lamps (Wise & unwise virgins -- again, Act 5:32 "And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him", Rev 14:12 "... keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus"), as the parable of the Talents and example of the fig tree show - that faith without fruit/works is dead.

That means Paul and Jesus are both advocating the same Gospel.

The father of the faith, Gen 26:5 "because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws." Paul says 1 Cor 7:19 "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters." (the moral and royal laws [Matt 22:36-40], not ceremonial laws).

1 John 2:3-4 "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments." As contrasted with Laodicean *believers*. Again, Rev 14:12 "... keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus". Matt 19:17-20
"... But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." Matt 28:20 The great commission mentions teaching willing disciples to adhere to Jesus's commandments.

A Thought:: Do I imply that Jesus doesn't care about the Ten Commandments (moral and royal law), by separating it from faith (sola fida) ?
John 15:9,10
Jesus said,
"As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love."
Including the 4th (Exodus 20:8) of the 10 commandments, which few comply with, ie Jews and SDAs.
Matt 5:19
"Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven."

While remembering that love for God and neighbours are the preeminent forerunners of more detailed aspects of moral law.
Matthew 22:36-40
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

Luke 10:27 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and your neighbor as yourself.' "
Jesus replied "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live."

The moral law describes what it means to love God and our neighbours. Every culture needs this "yoke is easy" standard of behaviour. It's not merely another religion but the only recipe for harmonious society - without which chaos and entropy set in (with everyone eventually doing whatever seems right in their own eyes, as mentioned in the Bible).

Talk of separating Church and State can't apply to the only standard of harmonious societies and our biosphere. Were it only another religion then separation would be correct, but Christian orthodoxy being a standard of harmonious behaviour makes it indispensible to every society / culture, and their biosphere - Entropy.html
(A web missionary focuses on groundswell, as an ambulance at the top of the cliff, rather than the bottom).

Jesus Words of life (infinite not finite) uphold the Cosmos, as they chart the path of "life" for societies, (Heb 1:3 "upholding all things by the Word of His power", "For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God"), which would otherwise deteriorate into the remaining occurrence of large scale entropy (James 1:15 "Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.") If we separate ourselves from that source and God's Words then we necessarily succumb to the opposite of life, which is the absence of God's infinite life sustaining Living Word/s - The Way, The Truth, The Life and "infinite" Word incarnate, Jesus.
Luke 4:4 Jesus answered him, saying, "It is written 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'"

Hebrews 11:6 says, "without faith it is impossible to please Him (God)", and implicit in Paul's(?) comment is an authentic faith that walks the talk, faith backed up by fruit or actions, as James and Jesus taught.

Broad brush strokes gloss over many details, but when deciding on eternal issues and doctrine we need more specifics, to dot our i's and cross our t's - using "the whole counsel of God", not a few preferred verses of Paul.

Matt 11:29-30
Jesus review of righteousness states: "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Again, Paul says 1 Cor 7:19 "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters." (the moral and royal laws, not ceremonial laws).

And, If we haven't got the fruit of godly works then it's possible we haven't got the root of authentic faith. But as Jesus is the head of all principality and power (Col 2:10), the Words He has spoken will decide these matters at the last day (John 12:48).

Paul? later adds (Heb 4:11-13) "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

Rom 8:1-17
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the ... This is conditional on not overlooking the above passages, including Jesus beatitudes.

Matt 5:1-20
Jesus beatitudes comment on the standards of God/Jesus for disciples, including Matt 5:19
"Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven." It also includes the need for mercy, to educate without impatiently getting irate; remembering the sin of the self righteous pharisee, and there but for the grace of God go us - especially if we'd been born into a similarly difficult situation. We have one judge, Jesus' Word. [Detailed appraisal of sincere disciples by spiritual leaders (elders and pastors) is a separate matter.]

1 Timothy 1: 8-11 is included in the whole counsel of God, that the law applies to the lawless, not to holy people. The (moral) law (commandments) is good if used lawfully, and is not made for a righteous person; (but does apply to Laodicean *believers*). If we keep God/Jesus's commandments as second nature then we're not doing it by, rote learned, going through the motions. The 10 commandments are lived by keeping Christ's royal law (Jam 2:8, Gal 5:14 Matt 22:36-40 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and Prophets", 1 Cor 9:21, Gal 6:2), to love God (biblically consistent lifestyle) and our neighbours, through obedience to the faith (Rom 16:26).

Again, broad brush strokes gloss over many details, but when deciding on eternal issues and doctrine we need more specifics, to dot our i's and cross our t's - using "the whole counsel of God", not a few preferred verses of Paul while overlooking the above.

Eph 5:9-10 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.
1 Peter 1:15-16
It relies on whether we're strong or weak in the faith - as to whom much is given more is expected and conversely. Also the parable of the Talents explains by example.

The following is used with permission :--

Grace Alone and Faith Alone: What is Wrong with the First Two Solas?
by David Servant

Perhaps you've heard a pastor or preacher say, "We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed by Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone." Those are known as the "five solas" (or "solae") because in Latin they are: Sola gratia, sola fida, solus Christus, sola scriptura, and soli Deo gloria. Although all five were not articulated together until the 20th century, the first two, grace alone and faith alone, were mentioned by some of the 16th-century Protestant Reformers to summarize what they felt was most wrong with Roman Catholicism. It isn't easy, however, to summarize all that God has revealed about salvation in Scripture with four Latin words. In fact, it is impossible. That is one reason why God gave us an entire Bible, and not just four words.
"What's Wrong with the First Two Solas?" by David Servant

Anyone who reads the Bible and filters everything he reads through the first two solas is going to be scratching his head. That is always the problem with theological mantras. They are limited by their brevity, and if they're unduly elevated, they can end up supplanting Scripture. If you find yourself often saying to yourself as you read the Bible, "That can't mean what it says, because it doesn't agree with one of the solas," then you've got a problem. You are filtering the Bible through your theology rather than what you should be doing, and that is filtering your theology through the Bible.

But it can get even worse. Not only is Scripture often twisted to fit into theological mantras, but the mantras themselves are often twisted to mean what they did not originally mean. That has certainly happened regarding the first two solas. In the end, both Scripture and mantras are misused. Allow me to explain.
Some Historical Context

Many modern Evangelicals ("born-again" Christians) who quote the five solas seem to be unaware that they were all coined by Calvinist/Reformed theologians, and so their intended meanings were originally Calvinistic/Reformed. When a Reformer declared, for example, that "we are saved by grace alone," he was speaking of Calvinism's "irresistible grace" by which God zaps those whom He has (allegedly) predestined for salvation. Human will or yielding have nothing to do with salvation in Calvinistic understanding. If they did, Calvinists claim, then salvation would not be by grace alone. "Irresistible grace" operates alone in the strictest sense.

In contrast, modern non-Calvinistic Evangelicals (who do not subscribe to the Calvinistic idea of "irresistible grace") rightly maintain that salvation is by grace, as that is what Scripture teaches, yet they also believe that human will-under the influence of God's Spirit-has something to do with receiving the benefit of God's grace. This is also plainly taught in Scripture, for example, in Jesus' Parable of the Sower and the Soils. If Calvinism were true, that parable is meaningless (not to mention thousands of other scriptures). So, even though some non-Calvinistic Evangelicals may claim to believe the first sola, they certainly don't believe it like the Reformers meant it.

The real truth is, even though they may claim to believe in sola gratia, non-Calvinistic Evangelicals really don't believe we are saved by "grace alone," simply because they believe that human will plays a part in salvation. If non-Calvinistic Evangelicals were more honest, they would say that we are saved by God's grace, but not by grace alone, because only if we yield to God's gracious drawing and conviction are we saved. God plays the major part in salvation and we play a very small part. And that human part is of necessity, because God gave us free moral agency, and He doesn't want a family of robots.

In spite of that, non-Calvinistic Evangelicals keep parroting the Protestant mantra, "We are saved by grace alone." The reason is, if you would ever state that salvation is not by grace alone, you would be shooting a sacred cow, and you would run the risk of being labeled self-righteous, a Pharisee, a thief of God's glory, and a heretic who believes that you can save yourself. All of those are very unfair characterizations that actually reveal more about the labelers than they do those whom they label. And what is most tragic regarding those labelers is that they unwittingly label Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude, who all affirmed that ultimate salvation-inheriting God's kingdom-is only for those who demonstrate some degree of holiness, which obviously requires some human effort.

As a simple example of biblical grace, consider the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, whose story John told (see John 8:1-11). Who would argue that she was not "saved by grace"? She deserved to be stoned according to the Mosaic Law, but the One who gave the Mosaic Law did not stone her. Rather, He said, "I do not condemn you." That's "undeserved favor"! At that moment, she was saved by "grace alone." But Jesus went on to say to her, "Now, go and sin no more." So, Jesus expected her to do something that would require effort by her human will. And the implication is that if she continued in her sexual promiscuity, she could find herself regretting it. That harmonizes perfectly with Paul's repeated warnings that immoral people will not inherit God's kingdom (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-5).

All of this is to say, it is certainly unfair to be branded a heretic by Calvinists for not subscribing to sola gratia. It is even more unfair to be branded a heretic by non-Calvinist Evangelicals for the same thing, and for at least three reasons: (1) because the non-Calvinist Evangelical understanding of saving grace is actually contrary to sola gratia as the Reformers meant it, (2) because non-Calvinist Evangelicals all believe that human wills play a part in initial salvation, which also stands in contrast to sola gratia and (3), because the New Testament is abundantly clear on the fact that inheriting God's kingdom has something to do with personal holiness. What Would the Reformers Think?

Historically, both the first and second solas (salvation by grace alone through faith alone) were a Protestant reaction to the merit/works-based salvation being proffered at the time by Roman Catholicism, when some in the church were, for example, selling indulgences to people who wanted to assist their dead relatives escape purgatory sooner.

When the Reformers declared, however, that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, did they mean that obedience to Christ was not part of the salvation equation? No, certainly not! Reformer Martin Luther, for example, wrote, "It is impossible, indeed, to separate works from faith, just as it is impossible to separate heat and light from fire."

Luther even coined a term to describe those who were convinced that, because salvation was a free gift of God's grace, obeying God's laws was optional. He called them antinomians, the roots of which are anti, against, and nomos, law. The antinomians of Luther's day were the 16th-century version of today's false-grace and hyper-grace teachers.

Tragically, the Evangelical church today is full of antinomians, including antinomians who frequently quote and misuse the first two solas to buttress their flawed theology. If Luther were alive today, he would not only cry out against the heresy of false-grace and hyper-grace teachers, he would also point out their misuse of the first two solas. And he would have no lack of scriptural support for his crusade, because Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude all warned against the errors of antinomianism.

All of this is to say, when modern teachers quote the first and second solas as a means to support their idea that grace somehow makes holiness optional, or that anyone who says that holiness is part of the salvation equation is a heretic who is "preaching salvation by works," they show that they interpret the Reformers just like they interpret the Bible-by ignoring essential context.
Sola Fida

The second sola, that we are "saved through faith alone," has certainly become another Protestant mantra. But the Reformers who affirmed the second sola-again, in reaction to Roman Catholicism's "works-oriented" bent-saw saving faith as something that God sovereignly granted to those whom He first zapped with Calvinistic "irresistible grace," causing them to be born again, all through no human yielding. So, from their Calvinist viewpoint, the Reformers could rightfully claim, in the strictest sense, that salvation was through faith alone. Yielded human wills have nothing to do with salvation in Calvinist theology. Grace and faith are both sovereignly and irresistibly granted.

Just as non-Calvinists actually don't believe that salvation is by grace alone in the strictest, Calvinistic sense, neither do they believe that salvation is through faith alone in the strictest, Calvinist sense because, again, they believe that human will, under the drawing and conviction of the Holy Spirit, always plays a part in salvation. Moreover, many non-Calvinist Evangelicals (that is, all who are not in the false- or hyper-grace camps) also believe that saving faith is always evidenced by works of obedience, so in that sense also they don't believe that we are saved by faith alone.

And when you think about it, because most Calvinists believe, as did Martin Luther, that "it is impossible to separate works from faith, just as it is impossible to separate heat and light from fire," neither do they actually believe that we are saved by faith alone, but rather that we are saved by faith that is not alone, but by faith that is evidenced and accompanied by works-in which human wills undeniably play a part. So, it is not only amusing to hear non-Calvinist Evangelicals sometimes quote the second sola as a sacred doctrine, it is even more amusing to hear Calvinists affirm the second sola, yet seconds later deny it by affirming that a living faith is always accompanied by works (that undeniably require human effort)!

And this brings us to a biggest problem with the second sola, and that is the fact that the only place in the Bible where the words "faith" and "alone" are found in the same verse is James 2:24, which states: "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." That directly contradicts the second Protestant sola. James flatly declared that a man is "justified by works and not by faith alone."

Protestant theologians, of course, have some explaining to do, since James 2:24 certainly appears to contradict a cardinal Protestant doctrine expressed in the second sola.

Some, therefore, make the claim that James was not talking about our being justified before God, but about our being justified before people. The only trouble is, that is not what the text or context indicates at all-if we are honest (read it yourself in Jas. 2:14-26). Plus, it requires us to believe that James wrote to correct a grave misconception among the early believers that they could be justified before people by faith without any works! Really? There was debate about that? Of course, that is silly. In fact, it is ludicrous, but theologians and pastors "explain" James 2:24 that way all the time with straight faces, parroting what they heard in seminary.

Other theologians, who perhaps realize how foolish that particular twisting of Scripture is, sometimes use a "clever" proverb to help us understand what they seem to see so clearly. They say, "We are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone." Which is to actually say, "We are saved by faith alone, but we are not saved by faith alone." It is pure doublespeak.

A longer version of that proverb would have to read like this: "We are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone, but rather, by a faith that is evidenced by works. So, we are only saved by a faith that is accompanied and validated by works, and thus we are not saved by faith alone." Just as James said!

Imagine a survivor of a shipwreck saying, "I was saved by air alone, but not by air that was alone! That is, the air inside the raft that kept me from drowning saved me. But anyone who says I was saved, not by air alone, but by an air-filled raft, is a heretic!" You would wonder about that person's sanity.

The question is, why is there a Protestant mantra that directly contradicts James 2:24? The sad answer is that, it was a reaction to Roman Catholicism's merit/works-based teaching, but it doesn't encapsulate everything the Reformers actually believed regarding faith and works. If Martin Luther believed that, "It is impossible, indeed, to separate works from faith, just as it is impossible to separate heat and light from fire," then Martin Luther actually didn't believe, in the strictest sense, that we are saved by faith alone. Was Paul Confused?

It is not just James who troubles sola-quoting Protestants. It is also Paul who, although he wrote famous words like, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law" (Rom. 3:28), which might sound a lot like "salvation through faith alone," he also wrote things that seem to contradict those famous words. For example, just one chapter earlier in the very same letter, he penned these words:

But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Rom. 2:5-10).

So, God is going to repay everyone according to their deeds. Those who do good will receive glory, honor, peace, and eternal life. Those who do evil will receive wrath, indignation, tribulation and distress. So, one's eternal destiny is determined by their deeds! That sure doesn't sound like "salvation by faith alone." That sounds like salvation by works.

And please note that the Greek word Paul used that is translated "deeds" in his declaration that God will "render to each person according to his deeds," is ergon. It is the identical word he used one chapter later when he wrote: "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works [ergon] of the Law" (Rom. 3:28). So, according to Paul, people are justified, or made righteous before God, by faith apart from deeds, but their eternal destiny is determined by their deeds! How can those two apparent contradictory facts be reconciled?

There is only one way they can be reconciled, and if we read everything Paul wrote in Romans 1 through 3, it becomes clear. For example, just five verses into his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote about "the obedience of faith" (Rom. 1:5). More specifically, he wrote that he was called as an apostle in order to "bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles." Faith, true faith, produces obedience. When someone believes, he repents, and he starts to obey. God, by His grace, forgives him of his sins and gives him His Holy Spirit to empower him to live a holy life.

So, clearly, although salvation is not the result of works, genuine salvation results in works. And the believing, repentant, forgiven, saved person is ready to stand before God to be "rendered to according to his deeds."

Some of this is actually implied in the very passage in Romans 2:5-10 we are considering that seems, at first glance, to stand in contrast to "salvation by faith." Remember that it began with these words: "But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God" (Rom. 2:5, emphasis added). Implied is that the one who repents will find mercy and escape from God "rendering to him according to his evil deeds." Obviously, biblical repentance is a change of heart that results in a change of actions, from doing evil to doing good.

There are other places in the first chapters of Paul's letter to the Romans that make it clear that, although salvation is not the result of works, genuine salvation results in works. For example, within seconds after Paul wrote, ""For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law" (Rom. 3:28), he wrote, "Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law" (Rom. 3:31, emphasis added). What did Paul mean?

Paul's letter to the Romans could be considered his treatise to answer Jewish objections to his gospel. So, just imagine Jews, who believed the Mosaic Law was their ticket to salvation, saying to Paul, "Your message of salvation through faith nullifies the Law!" Paul's response was, "No, just the opposite is true! Through faith "we establish the Law." He could only have been referring to the fact that those who believe repent and starting obeying God.

Moreover, Paul declared the same idea using different words in the very first chapter of Romans when he wrote in his introduction:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'But the righteous man shall live by faith'" (Rom. 1:16-17, emphasis added).

It is obvious that another common Jewish objection to Paul's gospel was that it made God appear to be unrighteous. So, Paul repeatedly counters that accusation, and his first counter is to declare that, in the gospel, God's righteousness "is revealed from faith to faith." That could be paraphrased to say that God's righteousness "is revealed from one person to another person who has faith," because Paul wrote directly before and after about people who have faith.

And how is God's righteousness revealed from one person to another person who has faith? It is revealed when people believe and thus repent, turning from sin and turning to righteousness. Moreover, when that occurs, God then sets them free from the power of sin, and He comes to live inside of them by His Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit also come His fruit, which Paul once listed as "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness [and] self-control" (Gal. 5:22). True believers are "filled with the fruit of righteousness" (Phil. 1:11). So, when believing, repentant, forgiven, Spirit-indwelt people display holy fruit that has its origin from God Himself, they display God's righteousness. Thus, God's righteousness "is revealed from faith to faith."

These truths are repeatedly found all through the New Testament letters. They ought to be common knowledge among all professing Christians. Sadly, however, they are not, and some teachers ignore or twist passages of Scripture to make the New Testament authors appear to say what they did not say. One of the most common twistings is to claim that when Paul wrote about righteousness in these passages, he was always referring to legal righteousness rather than practical righteousness. So, people can supposedly be righteous in God's eyes without actually living righteously! "When God looks at you, He sees the perfect righteousness of Jesus!" they claim. They ought to read Jesus' messages to the seven churches in Asia found in Revelation 1-3. Jesus sure didn't seem to be seeing Himself when He looked at those churches! Similarly, John wrote, "The one who practices righteousness is righteous" (1 John 3:7).
Continuing in Faith

Tragically, some false-grace teachers claim that God only requires that we have faith for a single moment in our lives, and if we do, that guarantees eternal salvation. If one believes in Jesus for one second, even if one becomes an atheist for the rest of his life or a serial murderer, he is safe in God's grace and will spend eternity in heaven!

The exact opposite, however, is taught in the New Testament. Scripture is very clear that we must continue in faith, which also means continuing in obedience, since "faith without works is dead" (Jas. 2:26). Remember, everyone will be repaid according to their deeds. We will either inherit "glory, honor, peace and eternal life," or "wrath, indignation, tribulation and distress," all depending on our deeds.

Obviously, continuing in faith and obedience has something to do with our own human wills. Thousands of scriptures testify to that fact, not to mention every human being's experience. But, as you might imagine, those who embrace sola gratia and sola fida and thus reject the idea that human wills have anything to do with initially receiving salvation must also reject the idea that human wills have anything to do with ultimately receiving eternal life, otherwise salvation is not by grace alone through faith alone. Again, when you filter the Bible through your theology rather than filter your theology through the Bible, you are making a huge error.

Scores of New Testament scriptures, both in the Gospels and epistles, plainly indicate that to ultimately inherit life, one must continue in faith and obedience, both of which require human will and effort. We've already previously read Paul's words that it is "those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality" who will inherit "eternal life" (Rom. 2:7). Here's Paul again:

Yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach-if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard (Col. 1:22-23, emphasis added).

The Colossian believers had been, at the time Paul wrote to them, reconciled to God through Jesus' death, "in order to present [them] before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach." Yet, if they were to ultimately be presented before God by Jesus as holy and blameless, it was necessary that they "continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel." How much clearer could it be?

Believers must not only continue believing, they must continue obeying. Paul wrote to the Philippians:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:12 -13, emphasis added).

There isn't any doubt on the spiritual status of the Philippians to whom Paul wrote. They were believers, "saints in Christ Jesus" who had been "filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:1, 11). And, in the passage we just read, Paul declared that God was at work in them "to will and to work for His good pleasure." So they were saved! But Paul didn't recommend that they "just rest in God and let Him work." No, he admonished the Philippian believers to "work out their salvation with fear and trembling." That means they had a part to play in their ultimate salvation, and they should take their part so seriously that they should do it "with fear and trembling." What was there to fear and tremble about? Just the loss of some rewards? Amazingly, that is what some commentators claim. When the Bible doesn't harmonize with your sola, it sure can't be your sola that needs adjustment, can it?

Some teachers claim that the "salvation" Paul admonished the Philippians to "work out" could not be a reference to salvation as in ultimate salvation/damnation. It must just be a reference to something like getting victory over sin. Again, when the Bible doesn't harmonize with your sola, it's apparently OK to change the plain meaning of words.

But let's be honest. Salvation means salvation. And the Greek word translated "salvation" (soteria) in Philippians 2:12-13 ("work out your salvation") is the same word translated "salvation" in Romans 1:16: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes."
In Conclusion

There are so many other New Testament scriptures that could be cited that all affirm everything I've been saying in this article. If you read the New Testament with an open mind, they will start jumping out at you like popcorn in a hot kettle. We are indeed saved by grace, but God's grace is not a license to sin. Rather, it is a temporary opportunity to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent, be born again, be indwelled by the Holy Spirit and His wonderful fruit, and live a righteous life, "walking after the Spirit and not after the flesh," so that you will be ready to stand before Jesus and be judged and repaid according to your deeds.

And we are saved through faith, but not by a faith that is nothing more than a mental assent to some theological facts about salvation, but by faith in a divine person, the Lord Jesus Christ. If we believe in Him, we will believe He is Lord, and we will repent and start following Him. And He will come to live in us and through us. And as we "continue in the faith" our salvation is secure.

It is miraculous and wonderful to actually be born again. But to just think you are born again because you are a believer in, and a defender of, the first two solas-as you wrongly perceive and exalt them-is tragic beyond anything else I know. - David

So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh - for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Rom. 8:12-14, emphasis added).

His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you (2 Pet. 1:3-11, emphasis added).

Deeds and Creeds
With permission (From their Bible App & blog)
There is the tendency among Christians sometimes to stress the importance of deeds (what one does) over creeds (what one believes), or vice-versa. This is popularized in the common aphorism, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." However, we know that the word of God doesn't pit these two against one another. Deeds and creeds are not enemies that need to be reconciled, but two sides of the same coin. Or, as James says it, "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:20). Deliverance does not come by faith and works, but by a faith that works.

That is why I find the "Truth in Action" feature of the NKJV Spirit-Filled Life Bible so helpful. For each book of the Bible, the authors of this resource demonstrate how the truths of that particular book lead to Spirit-driven action. Here's a brief description of this feature.

Truth in Action is a practical feature showing you ways to apply the Bible's great truths. Appearing in chart form, this study help summarizes the foundations and teachings of each book, then invites you - and shows you how - to act upon the summons the Holy Spirit is issuing in the Word.

Climaxing the books (or major divisions of the books), key "Action" truths are listed in numerical order, with each "Truth" listed, noting those verses that invite the believer's response. Together these passages are summarized with action words that offer specific steps you can take to let God guide your life - at work, at home - at all times.

Now let's see how the "Truth in Action" section looks for the letter of James in the NKJV Spirit-Filled Life Bible.

Truth James Teaches - Growing in Godliness
Godly living is a primary focus in the Book of James, which gives us practical instruction about living and growing in godliness. James has been called "the Proverbs of the New Testament." Study and apply its wisdom, guidelines, and concrete principles to your everyday life. By God's grace, seek to live in righteousness and peace in all that you think, say, and do.


2:1: "My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality."

Love all people regardless of social or economic status. Love others the way Jesus loves you, unconditionally.

3:2: "For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body."

Guard your mouth. Speak carefully, realizing that words have the power to wound and to cause division and strife. Use words to bless, encourage, and bring life to others.

4:1: "Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?"

Understand that pride, insecurity, self-centeredness, and lust are often the underlying source of aggressive behavior, conflict, and disagreements. Humble yourself before God and others, and He will give you grace.

4:7: "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

Submit to and obey God. Resist, stand against the devil, and he will flee.

4:11: "Do not speak evil of one another, brethren."

Speak well of others; bless them with your words. Do not condemn or slander others. Leave judgment to God.

4:13: "Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"

Acknowledge your total dependence on God in all you say and do.

4:17: "Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin."

Do not commit the sin of omission.

5:1: "Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!"

Do not allow riches to corrupt you, but use wealth to honor God.

Truth James Teaches - Cultivating Dynamic Devotion
James makes clear the principle that we cannot serve two masters. We cannot say we love and serve God and then live ungodly lives. Wholehearted devotion to God, expressed practically through good works, is the kind of life to which the Book of James calls us. Take time now to rededicate your heart and life to loving, following, and obeying Jesus.


1:17: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."

Confidently place your full love in God. He is always reliable because He never changes. Every gift He gives is good and perfect.

3:16-18: "For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."

Choose to devote yourself fully to God rather than to your own selfish and worldly desires. Devote yourself to the Lord, and godly wisdom and righteousness will begin to grow in your life.

Truth James Teaches - Pursuing Holiness
The Book of James challenges all believers to live holy lives. Jesus died for our sin, not so we could go on sinning, but His death set us free so we have the power and freedom to choose not to sin. We are to live in holiness because we have been made holy by grace through faith in Jesus. Live in the joy and freedom of holiness.


1:12-16: "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren."

Understand that temptation to sin is not from God. Sin begins with unholy desire and lust, which, if allowed to continue, produces sinful behavior. Sin, allowed to grow, will lead to death. Respond quickly to conviction of impure attitudes, thoughts, motives, and wrong behavior. Confess it and ask for forgiveness. Diligently pursue a holy thought life and lifestyle.

4:8-10: "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up."

Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. When you are in His presence, do not be surprised if you are convicted of sin. Embrace conviction; its purpose is to free you from sin. Embrace sorrow over sin; it leads to repentance and forgiveness. Humble yourself and God will lift you up.

Truth James Teaches - The Walk of Faith
Faith is to be expressed through good works. Faith is not simply an idea separate from real life. Rather, faith is to produce in us right living, right motives, right thinking, and right relationships. Our good works confirm that faith is alive and active in us. Seek to live your faith daily in practical ways.

1:2: "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials."

Let joy reign when you are surrounded by trials and tests.

1:3: "Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience."

Know that tests and trials will result in endurance and patience.

1:4: "But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

Patiently endure trials, knowing that the result will be maturity, a faith that lacks nothing.

1:5: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him."

Freely ask for wisdom. Be assured that God will give it in abundance.

1:19-20: "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God."

Understand that anger can lead to sin. Listen and think before you speak. Do not allow your temper to flare quickly. Keep anger under the control of the Spirit.

2:18: "But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works."

Let your faith be evident to all by your good works.

5:7: "Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord."

Wait patiently in faith for the coming of Jesus. Pray for a mighty outpouring of the Spirit on the church.

5:14: "Is anyone among you sick?"

Pray for the sick with faith, anointing them with oil. If you are sick, call the elders or pastor of your church to come and pray for you.

Put Your Faith to Work

The above content comes from the NKJV Spirit-Filled Life Bible, 3rd edition. The NIV New Spirit-Filled Life Bible is also available.

Ten Commandments
1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
2. You shall make no idols.
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
4. Keep the Sabbath day holy.
5. Honor your father and your mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. You shall not covet.


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Church-Home/Cell Groups are a good alternative for those who prefer it.