Discussion in 'Black Spirituality / Religion - General Discussion' started by Ankhur, Mar 22, 2011.
Faith Without Works is dead
 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Understanding Salvation by Faith
By Richard Wagner
The notion that salvation is totally of God and is the result of nothing that anyone does is hard to grasp. To many, this solution is too easy. Human nature almost demands us to tack something onto the end. And many through the ages have felt compelled to add onto the central message of Christianity. But the Bible makes it clear that salvation is sola gratia — by grace alone. As Ephesians 2:8–9 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. It is not from yourself or anything you've done, but the gift of God." Salvation, therefore, is a free gift of grace from God.
When a person accepts the gift of salvation, he or she is said to be justified — made acceptable before (or made right with) God. The process of being declared righteous is called justification.
Although all Christians agree that God's grace is what saves people, they disagree considerably over what a person's role is in this whole process. Obviously, a Christian needs to believe in Jesus Christ, but a sticky issue has always been whether faith by itself is sufficient for salvation.....
....Protestants are very leery of the W word that Paul speaks so loudly against in the Book of Romans — works. That's why they disagree with the Catholic link between the sacraments and salvation and the tie that Orthodox Christians place on living a Christian life with one's salvation. Protestants consider these efforts to be works, plain and simple, since they are actions that one takes apart from belief. Although Protestants agree with Catholics and Orthodox Christians that a Christian must live out her faith (Philippians 2:12), they see the practice of "living out" as something that is separate from salvation itself — an effect of receiving salvation, rather than a necessity to receive salvation.
Putting aside all these debates and nuances, here are two key truths about salvation and faith that all Christians agree on:
Faith in Jesus Christ is essential to be saved and justified. See Ephesians 2:8–9.
True faith has a backbone. The Book of James makes it abundantly clear that a declaration of faith by itself doesn't amount to a hill of beans if it isn't backed up by action (James 2:14–26). In other words, if you're gonna talk the talk, you've gotta walk the walk. Therefore, if someone is truly a Christian, his or her life is going to be characterized by a growing faith and, over the long haul, will live in accordance with that faith. However, recognize that this is a consequence of faith, not a condition.
Read more: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/understanding-salvation-by-faith.html#ixzz1HR3hu4Ra
Read more: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/understanding-salvation-by-faith.html#ixzz1HR3OFrcY
The letter of the law versus the spirit of the law is an idiomatic antithesis. When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words (the "letter") of the law, but not the intent of those who wrote the law. Conversely, when one obeys the spirit of the law but not the letter, one is doing what the authors of the law intended, though not adhering to the literal wording.
....The Christian Bible references the letter and the spirit of the law in Romans 2:29 NASB. Though it is not quoted directly, the principle is applied using the words "spirit" and "letter" in context with the legalistic view of the Hebrew Bible. This may be the first recorded use of the phrase.
In the New Testament, Pharisees are seen as people who place the letter of the law above the spirit (Mark 2:3–28, 3:1–6). Thus, "Pharisee" has entered the language as a pejorative for one who does so; the Oxford English Dictionary defines Pharisee with one of the meanings as A person of the spirit or character commonly attributed to the Pharisees in the New Testament; a legalist or formalist. Pharisees are also depicted as being lawless or corrupt (Matthew 23:38); the Greek word used in the verse means lawlessness, and the corresponding Hebrew word means fraud or injustice.
Though in the Gospels Jesus is often shown as being critical of Pharisees, precisely because of his position that the "Spirit of the Law" is the better way. He is more like the Pharisees than the other Jewish groups of the time (Sadducees, Essenes, Zeolots). The Pharisees like Jesus believed in the resurrection of the dead, and in divine judgement. They advocated prayer, almsgiving and fasting as spiritual practices. The Pharisees were those who were trying to be faithful to the law given to them by God and faithful to the Covenant of God. Some became legalistic in an effort to be faithful to the law. They held others accountable to this standard as well. Jesus is critical of this view. Other Pharisees even before Christ advocated being faithful to the "Spirit of the Law". Not all pharisees, nor all Jews of that time were legalistic.
There were two "schools of thought" within the Pharisee community. In the end the "Spirit of the Law" wins out over the "Letter of the Law" within Judaism. Though modern language has used the word Pharisee in the pejorative to describe someone who is legalistic and rigid, it is not an accurate description of all Pharisees. The argument over the "Spirit of the Law" vs. the "Letter of the Law" was part of early Jewish dialogue as well.
Some[who?] might connect 2 Corinthians 3:6 with such an idea, but that passage talks about "the letter" versus "the Spirit", where "the letter" - some think it refers to the Old Covenant and its rules, while "the Spirit" refers to the Holy Spirit (and the New Covenant). The new covenant described in Jeremiah 31:31-33 is a common theme of the prophets, beginning with Hosea. According to Jeremiah, "the qualities of the new covenant built upon the old are : a) It will not be broken, but will last forever; b) Its law will be written in the heart, not merely on tablets of stone; c) The knowledge of God will be so generally know forth in the life of the people that it will no longer be necessary to put it into words of instruction." According to Luke (Lk 22, 20), and St. Paul, in the first epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor 11, 25), this prophecy was fulfilled only through the work of Jesus Christ, who said "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you." Christ did not come to destroy the "old" covenant but to fulfill it. It was always about love. All the Law can be summed up in this " to love God with all your heart, all your mind and all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself", Jesus quotes the book of Deuteronomy.
 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Without a heart of altruistic empathy, it is impossible for anyone to become a true Christian
Faith and works
How do the two seemingly contradictory functions of faith and works relate, interact and compliment each other?....
Paul and James on Justification
Paul and James harmonize on the doctrine of justification, even though at first glance they may seem to be at loggerheads.
For instance Paul taught as follows: “We conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28). James, on his part, wrote: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24).
Roman Catholicism clings desperately to James’ exposition while disregarding and even contradicting Paul’s theology on justification.
This she does to her own hurt. The balanced Christian view on justification has to listen to both apostles. Together they present the whole picture. That they are good friends can be proved as follows:
1. James does not contradict or deny Paul's doctrine (Romans 3:28; 4:5; Galatians 2:15-16, etc.), for both were guided by the same Spirit of truth (John 16:13-14).
2. James does not speak about how a man is reckoned as righteous before God, but rather about the justification or validity of his faith in the eyes of men (James 2:18: "Show me your faith....").
3. We are justified by faith alone, but works justify our faith, and declare that we are justified. Men cannot see our faith, except by our works (cf. Luke 7:47,50). If you have faith, demonstrate it. The only evidence visible to human eyes is the deeds of obedience. Though God can read the heart, our only view of the heart is by the sight of outward fruit.
4. James treats the question, "What kind of faith is saving faith?" The obvious answer is that faith without works cannot save, something Paul wholeheartedly believed too. Faith that yields no deeds is not saving faith. The New Testament does not teach justification by the profession or the claim to faith; it teaches justification by the possession of true faith. Calvin said: "We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone." Both Paul and James would have agreed to this statement.
5. Both Paul and James conveniently take Abraham as their example, the former appealing to Genesis 15 while the latter draws his point from Genesis 22. His offering up of Isaac demonstrated the reality of his faith (chapter 15). Yet Abraham's obedience was not the meritorious cause of his salvation; it added no merit to the perfect and sufficient merit of Christ.
6. Thus James is attacking all forms of antinomianism that seek to have Jesus as Saviour without embracing him as Lord. Just as Paul demonstrated that trusting in one's own works is deadly, so James teaches that resting on empty or dead faith is fatal. They complement each other: James deals with antinomianism, Paul with legalism.
 Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.
 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
 Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
1 John 4:
 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
1 Cor. 13:
 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Yet, seemingly, some people still can not differentiate between the "religion" of Christianity as a FAITH..."Christianity" as the "Body of Christ," and "religion" as "legalism."
By Herman H. Lackner
Read before the Chicago Literary Club
March 23, 1964
© 1964 Herman H. Lackner
.....The first meaning of "charity" listed in Webster's second edition reads "The virtue or act of loving God with a love which transcends that for creatures and of loving others for the sake of God; a rendering of the Greek agape of the New Testament". Instead of clarifying this definition the Third Edition merely weakened it by omitting the reference to agape. After three hundred and fifty years "charity" has gotten the theological axe, superceded by "love" as shown in the foregoing examples. However, in both the second and third editions, Webster’s definitions of “love" are somewhat racier than can be presumed to have been in the minds of the British prelates of St. Paul. Who captured the current idiom, Webster or Westminster?
Perhaps the first Pope had the last word when in his first epistle, St. Peter said "love covers a multitude of sins".
Herman H. Lackner
http://www.chilit.org/Papers by author/LacknerH3.htm
Separate names with a comma.