Born Ordinary, Called to be Extraordinary

Justification, Inherit the Earth, and be Strengthened Through Faith. (Part 2)

Martin Luther said, “If we recognized the doctrine of justification by faith, we are in the brightest light, if not, we are the in the darkness of the abyss”.  Although this great truth of “justification by faith” has been publicly proclaimed in the Christian world for the past 500 years, there’re still many believers who are ignorant or have doubts towards the doctrine of “only by faith”. The situation is worsened when many teachers and pastor do not give an accurate teaching in this area. Actually, we are purely justified by faith, and it is intrinsically God’s sovereign and supernatural work for this faith to come upon us, there’s no human element nor works in this. Today, many believers are not rooted in this foundation, still thinking that there’re human works or display of submission when it comes to justification (born again and salvation); or there are some natural elements that cause man to have faith towards God, and thus resolve into following Him (Eg: Abraham believed because he encountered the death of his brother and father, thus he lost all hope in his life and responded to God). If so, unknowingly, this is akin to weakening the works of Holy Spirit in the hearts of men, and not giving all glory rightfully God’s back to Him. In fact, there are both connecting and distinctive relationships between faith and works. Indeed, faith brings acts of submission. Although it will be more and more obvious, the acts are not seen when one has faith. The nature of faith is devoid of acts, for it is something that happens within – a matter of the invisible work of Holy Spirit upon a man’s life. When a person surrenders his sovereignty to Jesus, there is no obvious acts or manifestation of submission in it, only the faith given through the Holy Spirit that enables one to respond to God. How then can we explain the truth of “faith will surely bring deeds” as proclaimed in book of James? That is the deeds brought through the fruits of faith, in another word, it is something gradually realized and seen after one has truly believed. Today, the teachings of the pulpits of many churches have not distinguished faith and deeds, and strongly emphasize how essential and needful deeds are. Many shepherds specifically praise the church-goers with good conducts (Eg: appropriateness, sacrifice for the church, there’re testimonies in the offering and workplaces, submitting to the advices of the church leaders etc). Although such good conducts are the outcomes that will be attained by those who truly believe, they are not the factors that earn God’s praises. It is the faith that gives rise to such deeds that are commendable by God. It is for Abraham’s faith that God commended him, and the display of his work (submission) only proved his faith. In the words of compliment Lord Jesus gave to Zacchaeus, we also see that the Lord valued his faith . Lord did not give credits to his good deeds, instead, he said, “today salvation has come to this because, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham” (in another word, he was like Abraham, one who was justified by faith). mentioned that the people were commended by God for their faith (rephrase). Therefore, we ought to know that, deeds are not the requirement for justification but proof of the existence of faith. Also, there’re many grey zones in deeds. Some are false deeds (Eg: do for men not God); or certain people’s faith has not reached the stage to carry out the good deed (Eg: some people truly believe, but they are young in faith and thus cannot forsake certain earthly gains); there’re some who are entrusted and instructed by God in certain areas, thus they are different in their deeds. But all in all, we definitely cannot take this as an excuse to dwell in our old self, for God does not delight in man deceiving themselves and walk backward in their faith. Therefore, it’s under this context that the book of James asks men to have the proof of faith, reasons being: Firstly, to put forth the truth to those who’re unsaved, so that they cannot continue to deceive themselves and be brought to true repentance; Secondly, rebuking those who’re saved, telling them that they have fallen short of the grace, so that they will be awakened and turned to God.

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