Know Your Bible
"IF YE CONTINUE IN MY WORD..."
"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;" (John 8:31). From this event in Jesus' life we can understand that our being His disciple is conditioned on whether or not we do what His word teaches and requires of us.
What was true then is true now: We are Jesus' disciple IF we continue in His word. The opposite of this statement is also true: "If ye continue NOT in my word, then are ye NOT my disciples indeed;" The test of whether anyone is truly a disciple of Jesus can be determined on the basis of whether or not we are continuing or abiding in His word. Let's test ourselves and see if we are His disciple.
Jesus said in Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Are we continuing in His word when we teach, as some do, that a person is saved when they believe? Are we truly a disciple of Christ when we teach that baptism has nothing to do with saving a person?
Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Are we continuing in His word when we teach, as many do, that one church is just as good as another? Are we to imply that ANY church can be as good as the one that Christ built? Surely not! Then surely we could not be saying that ALL churches were built by Christ because churches are divided and Christ is not divided (1 Corinthians 1:13) nor is He the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). Though there are many who would tell us to attend the church of our choice, they are not disciples of Christ for nowhere in His word has Christ built more than one church (Ephesians 1:22,23; 4:4).
Jesus said in Matthew 19:9, "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." Are we Jesus' disciple when we ignore and do not teach what this verse says. There are many preachers and many churches where you will never hear what Jesus taught on the subject of divorce (put away) and remarriage (marry another). This is so dangerous in view of the fact that we live in a society that will grant divorce for every cause under the sun. Yet, Jesus says that divorce can only be "for fornication". For anyone to seek a divorce for any other cause and then marry another puts them in the condition of being an adulterer. Jesus's word goes on to tell us that adultery is a work of the flesh and "they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-21). How can we profess to be Christians (disciples of Christ) and be in our second, third, fourth, etc. marriages from which we never put away our mates for fornication?
Jesus said in John 14:15, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Is someone a disciple of Jesus when they tell us that works have nothing to do with saving us? What are we doing when we keep the commandments of Christ? I challenge anyone to find another verse that tells us how we can prove our love for Christ some way other than keeping His commandments. You can't find one! What this leaves us with is the conclusion that the only way I prove my love of Jesus is by what I DO: whether I keep His commandments or not!! No one proves their love for Christ by just saying they love Jesus. "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:18).
In conclusion, let us take note of the passage in 2 John 9, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." Let us also remind ourselves of the passage in John 8:31, "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;"
---E.R. Hall, Jr.
SAVED BY WORKS
It is one of the most controversial statements in all of scripture. Martin Luther even went so far as to refuse to accept the letter which contains it as true scripture. What is it?
"You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone" (James 2:24).
What make this scripture so controversial and difficult for most of the religious world to accept? It is the emphasis on works in lieu of other passages which emphasize faith. Are the two ideas in Scripture mutually exclusive or can they be reconciled?
First, it is important to determine what is not being argued by the passage. James is not, for instance, arguing that faith is not important. Indeed, most of the chapter is about faith. And James is not arguing with Paul's assertion in Romans 4 that man is justified by faith. When Paul argues this, he is discussing certain kinds of works, namely those works pertaining to the law of Moses. Note that in this verse, James argues that man is not saved by faith ALONE. When men like Martin Luther "refuse James a place in the Canon," they completely miss what James has to say.
The argument of James 2 is that it is impossible to see faith without works. Works are the product, he says, of the faith which saves, and he gives several examples to prove his point.
First, he says that a faith without works is useless (v. 14). "If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,' and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?" (vv.15,16). It should be observed that no one would dispute that such behavior is unbecoming a Christian. In particular, most denom-inations place a special importance on caring for those in need, so that one who denies such basic necessities to a brother or sister would be considered unworthy of the name Christian. But James says that such a one is parallel (exactly like) to one who claims to have faith, but has no works (v. 17).
James also argues that while some may CLAIM to have faith, his faith is proven by his works (v. 18). In other words, faith is made tangible, visible by the works it produces, with James pointing out that even demons believe in God.
Finally, James goes to the same example of faith which Paul embraced in Rom. 4, that of Abraham. He explains that Abraham's faith was manifested by his willingness to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, so that his faith was perfected by his works, so that God reckoned (put to his account) his faith as righteousness (vv. 21-23).
It is here then, that James inserts his "controversial" phrase: "You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone." Stripped of the trappings of denominational teachings about faith only, the verse makes great sense, as we see that our faith must be shown (proven) by our works. In this way, James is easily understood when
he proclaims "faith without works is dead."
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