DOES THE VIEW OF FAITH ONLY SALVATION GIVE INDIVIDUALS A LICENSE TO SIN?
EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER IV - Christian faith and its demands. Christian conduct.
"There are so many texts, in the New Testament in particular, in which we are taught that salvation is by faith alone without the deeds of the law, that someone could be inclined to think that it is enough to believe, and then there is no obligation to do anything else. Nothing is more false and pernicious."
If the normative meanings of words and organization of grammar and normative rules of language are to be followed when interpretating Scripture, (and they are:
then the hundreds of passages that stipulate that salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone without any deeds are saying that that is indeed all that is required for eternal life. Otherwise those passages are not telling the truth - via error of omission, including the very words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself when He spoke to Nicodemus as reported in John chapter 3 and dozens of places elsewhere. There just is no other way to look at such passages as Jn 3:16, Eph 2:8-9, John chapter 6, Romans chapter 4, etc.
The assumption of those who object to free grace salvation, i.e., faith alone in Christ alone, among other things, is that if one is saved by faith alone then one is not obligated to behave, and that one can get away with a lifestyle of sin and not suffer the consequences.
This position is evidenced by the phrase in the above statement:
"and then there is no obligation to do anything else."
Nothing could be further from the truth, but this subject is simply not in view in salvation unto eternal life passages. In hundreds of other passages it is stipulated that there will be consequences when a believer sins. The unfaithful Christian will not be eternally condemned but he will be disciplined accordingly on earth and SUFFER LOSS OF ETERNAL REWARDS IN HEAVEN:
"Let us see, therefore, that there is no contradiction between the teachings of Paul and this of James; and that each one presents the same truth from a different perspective.
a) Paul teaches that salvation cannot be merited by works
b) James affirms that good works are necessary
[I am presuming here you mean necessary for the result of salvation to be effective, otherwise we are in agreement here],
because they are the evidence that faith is true faith
c) faith should lead us to action"
According to normative rules of language,
a) above is contradictory to b). Either one does something with the result that one receives the benefit or one does not. In a) Paul is saying one does nothing. And b) states that James claims that 'good works' are necessary [to be saved], (which under close scrutiny James actually does not).
Then c) is a conclusion that may or may not follow since your statement is taken as subjunctive: should = maybe you will and maybe you choose not to, but you are expected to.
First of all, it is agreed that c) is correct:
"faith [most definitely] should lead us to action."
But it is not stipulated ANYWHERE in the bible as a step or a requirement in order to be saved - including James chapter 2. On the other hand it is stipulated as a command for the believer:
Here are some key points which must be considered relative to James chapter 2:
1) Salvation in the bible frequently does not refer to salvation unto eternal life. It can mean the preservation of one's physical life, or of the value of one's life - in the present mortal state and into eternity, relative to rewards in heaven. The context will of course determine which meaning to apply. The latter two meanings is the case in James chapter 2.
3) The result of good works is repeatedly indicated as friendship, i.e., fellowship, with God with the shining example of Abraham being discussed. Salvation unto eternal life is not in view, friendship with God is.
4) James 2:24 (NASB)
24 You see
that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
Verse 24 of James chapter 2 is the crux of the matter and stipulates that there are TWO kinds of justification, one by faith alone and one by works.
The Greek word "monon" which is translated "alone" in English is an adverb which must then modify the verb "is justified" and not the noun "faith". "Faith" is feminine in gender and the adverb "alone" is neuter. So from the grammar of the original Greek Bible you know that the word "alone" is NOT TALKING ABOUT FAITH!!...
So verse 24 DOES NOT SAY: 'You see that a man is justified not only by faith alone but he must add works to that faith in order to be justified to eternal life.'
Verse 24 does not say this - it cannot say this - because the word translated "alone" is a neuter adverb which therefore cannot modify the Greek word for "faith" which is a feminine noun. The adverb "not alone" modifies the verb "is justified" and means "not alone" i.e. not just one kind of justification. Therefore, verse 2:24 says, 'A man isn't to have just one kind of justification which is by faith, (this kind resulting in eternal life); rather, he is also to have another kind of justification which is by works, (this kind resulting in the preservation of the value of one's life and a demonstration of one's friendship with God, like Abraham)..
Before you give this point of view the back of your hand consider the following - which is the way Scripture should be interpreted: verse by verse:
A detailed, verse by verse analysis is linked to this response so that this can be faithfully proved out:
"a) Paul's point of view: justification can't be merited by deeds.
Paul teaches that justification is attained by faith alone, without the works of the law, by the redemption of Jesus Christ. According to him, good works can't produce or merit the justice of God. There has always been the danger that someone would abuse this teaching and would conclude, mistakenly, that good deeds are not necessary after justification is attained, as proof and evidence of a true faith."
[This is true. There is the danger that believers will take their guarantee of eternal life by faith alone casually and there are a number of passages that indicate that that will be the case. But there are still consequences that other passages indicate will have to be paid by unfaithful believers]
"There is nothing more obnoxious and contrary to Paul's mind, who so often and in many ways exhorts us to abound in good works. Writing to Titus, he says: Those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works (Titus 3:8).
If good works were not necessary as a proof that faith is genuine, Paul wouldn't have talked so persistently about good deeds in all his letters, as we will see later."
[No one is disputing that good works are evidence that one is saved. The point here is what has been stated already:
Works are NOT part of the salvation requirement of an individual.
Furthermore, there are a number of passages that indicate that not all believers whose destiny is heaven will be faithful:
Believers can be unfaithful to the point of not receiving rewards in heaven, even suffering sin unto death and yet still be 'true' believers with an eternal destiny in heaven.
"b) James' point of view: good works are necessary as an evidence that our faith is sincere. According to James, only a holy life, abundant in good works, full of compassion and love for one's neighbor, is evidence that a person is justified and that his/her faith is true."
[True, if the evidence is as indicated in James chapter two and throughout the Bible: evidence to man - with the proviso that an individual recognizes Christian / godly behavior especially godly motivation. For Scripture does indicate that works are invaluable for justification [before men] BUT NOT BEFORE GOD:
(v. 1) "What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter?
(v. 2) If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about - but not before God." [i.e., before man]
Incidentally, there is no difference between true faith and faith. Faith is defined according to normative rules of language which is reflected in the writing of God's Word as detailed in the reference listed below and as previously defined, (to which you said you were in agreement). So faith is true by definition or it is not faith at all. Either one believes in something or one does not. The belief may be in something that is not true or true; nevertheless a belief in something that is false is still a true or genuine belief, albeit in something that is not true: rules of normative language:
"According to him the only faith really effective to declare the sinner just, is that which is accompanied by works."
Actually, James is not referring to justification unto eternal life but the 2nd kind of justification: before men. Works are never figured in as effective toward eternal life: Eph 2:8-9, James chapter one, etc.
"As Paul emphasized that no one could get the justice of God by his / her own works, James as well emphasized that the true doctrine regarding justification is oriented to a holy life, full of good works; and that an intellectual assent alone can not be the basis for justification."
Intellectual assent, i.e., belief, (normative rules of language), is all that is required in order to be justified unto eternal life. Over 400 passages teach this. The other kind of justification, on the other hand does require works:
v. 24 is the key.
"c) true faith should lead us to action. In the examples from James' letter in verses 15 through 17, he shows that it would be useless to tell a hungry man or a naked one: "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled", if we don't give them food and clothes;"
"in the same manner it would be useless to pretend to be justified by a faith without works, because such a faith is dead. "
Per the study in James and consistently throughout Scripture, salvation is received solely by a single instantaneous moment of faith in Christ, no deeds permitted, (Ref. Eph 1:13-14. Ro 11:6, Eph 2:8-9. Ro 4ff). The second kind of justification is being confused with the first kind. And the faith that is considered dead is a faith that is useless - dead = useless, inactive - relative to justification by works unto man NOT UNTO GOD as God's Word so often teaches, (Ro 4:1-2).
One may have even become faithless but God's promise of eternal life is a faithful one:
"The needy person requires our assistance to get out of his/her need; the believer's faith requires works to be proven effective [to mankind]. As good wishes are not enough to help the needy, in the same way, faith without works is not enough: it has to produce fruits of good works to be really effective [not for salvation but for justification before men]. Good works cannot deserve salvation [nothing is deserving of salvation: recall that it is by grace: unmerited favor, it is a gift: Eph 2:8-9];
but good deeds are the external, visible and necessary sign that faith is true, from the heart."
Deeds are excluded by God's Word as being necessary for eternal life if it is to be by grace, (and it is), (Ro 11:6). Faith by definition is neither true nor false, it is just faith or not faith: a mental assent or dissent. From the heart: heart = synonymous in Scripture and in context, via normative rules of language with the mind: the will, or the mind. A belief in the mind is synonymous with a belief in the heart since that is what Scripture defines it as: normative rules of language apply, i.e., proper reading skills ]
Ran out of time.
Please see if you wish to respond to this so far, and then we can go to the other passages that you cited as this took a lot of time to answer whereas your effort was relatively short, since you apparently agreed with everything I said and then proceeded to totally disagree and qualify it with derogatory adjectives.
And since if what is true so far then the rest of the bible, being non contradictory is such matters, will follow suit. Each passage must be carefully examined utilizing normative rules of language.