So Paul writes to the Galatians, in his ringing statement of this truth: We are justified by faith alone; faith in Christ Jesus. Nothing more. Nothing less. Without disrespect to works, we understand that these are works of faith. Works arising from our faith. And not the other way around. From Galatians 3, Paul’s words are direct. Some would say politically incorrect:
6 Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 7 Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8 The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith. 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
But wait, some say, what about Jesus’ brother James, in his letter, when he writes (James 2:17) “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” True enough. But one should not build a theology on this isolated statement. Works are the natural product of faith. Not the other way around. Jesus’ very death on the Cross tells us that fallen mankind could never, ever, have been redeemed by works, by just living under the Law.
To believe otherwise is to claim He died in vain. Paul is correct. No amount of works can justify, if they come not from faith.
| technorati tag | Christianity|