Only 2 Commandments – BT1
Trusting-relying-faith versus works
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At first appearance many see the apostle Paul and James, the Lord’s step-brother and pillar of the Jerusalem Church along with Peter and John, opposing each other concerning trusting-relying-faith and works, so much so that the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther didn’t want the book of James in the bible, and many early Church Fathers felt the same! Paul says: “You have been saved through trusting-relying-faith – and this is not your own doing/work; it is the grace-gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (a), and “For with the heart one has trusting-relying-faith and [so] is made/declared righteous, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (b). However, James says, “What good/usefulness is it, my brethren, if someone says he has trusting-relying-faith but does not have works? Can that trusting-relying-faith save him?” (c), and after giving examples of Christian’s physical needs being ignored by other so-called Christians, James says: “So also trusting-relying-faith, if it has no works, [is] dead/lifeless/useless” (d). He taunts these Jewish-Christians: “You ongoingly have trusting-relying-faith that ‘God is one’ (e); you do well, but the demons ongoingly have trusting-relying-faith and they shudder/tremble-with-fear” (f). After appealing to Abraham’s act of trusting-relying-faith that was rewarded with God’s blessing, James says: “You see that a person is out of/from works declared/made righteous and absolutely not out of/from trusting-relying-faith alone” (g). <Notes> a) Ephesians 2:8-9, b) Romans 10:10, c) James 2:14, d) James 2:17, e) a key Jewish creed, f) James 2:19, g) James 2:24.
However, on closer examination of the contexts of all the related passages, Paul and James are both looking at “genuine, saving trusting-relying-faith” from different angles to address different abuses within the Church. Paul addresses Jews relying on the works of the Law and Jewish-Christians tempted by the teachers of the Law to make themselves “right with God,” pointing out that without trusting-relying-faith in Jesus as “the Righteous One,” every single person, Jew or Gentile, will certainly die in their sins! James is addressing Jewish-Christians who pride themselves in being “religious in their performance/service of outward ceremonial rituals to please God” and also works of the Law, who may indeed be “listeners” of the logos gospel message of The Truth but then “are forgetful hearers and not doers/workers of it,” who may indeed “say they have trusting-relying-faith” but then can’t control their “biting tongues” or even take care of “orphans and widows in their affliction,” thus showing their lack of impartial, unconditional-love for fellow Christians in need. In fact, the wealthy in the Church were even oppressing poor Christians, having them dragged into court, and even sentenced to death! These Jewish-Christians were even violating the OT’s “royal” Law of “unconditionally-love you neighbor” (a)! Both Paul and James deal with the incredulousness of Christians saying they know God but then don’t unconditionally-love God’s children, just as the Jews didn’t unconditionally-love God’s only begotten Son. Paul reminds them that the New Covenant’s “Law” is “the Law of Christ, to bear one another’s burdens” (b), but this is the same as James’ “perfect Law of liberty/freedom” where “mercy triumphs over judgment” (c), and all this is based on the “implanted logos gospel message which is able to save your souls!” (d). <Notes> a) James 2:8, b) Galatians 6:2, c) compassion over criticalness and divisive favoritism, d) James 1:21, 2:13.
The apostle John also deals with the same issues, pointing out that having the “unconditional-love” of the Father and the Son living in you by the Holy Spirit should naturally bring about this same kind of “unconditional-love” for others, especially towards God’s own children – Christians who are now brothers and sisters of Jesus (a). Remember that Jesus said, “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (b), and “if the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would unconditionally-love you as its own; but because you are not of this world . . . the world hates you” (c), so “do not be surprised, brethren, that the world hates you” (d). Hatred of the brethren is a sign that you are of the world, “still in darkness” (e), “making you a murderer, and you know that no murder has zoe genuine-life everlasting remaining/dwelling in him” (f), so “if you say, ‘I unconditionally-love God’ but hate your brother, you are indeed a liar” (g). <Notes> a) 1 John 2:9, 11, 3:15, 4:20, b) John 15:20, c) John 15:18-19, d) 1 John 3:13, e) 1 John 2:9, 11, f) 1 John 3:15, g) 1 John 4:20.