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The Gospel War: Paul vs. James

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
February 25, 2021 12:00 am

The Gospel War: Paul vs. James

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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February 25, 2021 12:00 am

Ever since the Protestant Reformation, Justification by faith has been a hot topic. If we are saved by faith in Christ alone, what role does good works play in salvation? Paul said that salvation is by faith alone, but James said it is by faith plus works. So who is right? In this message Stephen shows us how they both are.

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We are justified in the eyes of God by faith alone. We are justified in the eyes of man by works alone. That's James point in verse 24 you see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone in our people can see your face that's all you have and I can see your works present justification in the eyes of man, it's worth justified as authentic work glorify God, serve Christ allow them to change your heart works reveal the people, as you know, was written by the apostle Paul, but today Stephen's going to spend some time in James as well. Ever since the Protestant Reformation, justification by faith is been a hot topic if were saved by faith in Christ alone. What role does good works play in salvation. Paul said that salvation is by faith alone, but James said that faith without works is dead, so who's right well in this message. Stephen shows us how they both are welcome to wisdom for the heart. This message is called the gospel for all versus James in the early 1500s, there was massive theological collision. It was a necessary collision that was. It was a much-needed debate and reform over the issues of theological corruption that had become a way of religious life.

The collision that occurred specifically revolved around the definition of justification by faith. More specifically, how justification related what the church was teaching as the sacrament of penance. The sacrament was defined by the Roman church as the second pillar of justification. The first pillar of justification they taught was infant baptism. So the person sinned after their baptism and they certainly would. There needed to be some kind of restorative active penance. The church believe and still does believe that the really bad Cindy's quote kill unquote justifying grace so something must be done by the sinner to restore grace or the soul of the sinner is in peril all the sacraments of the Roman church are designed to have been in one way or another to continually justify the sinner in the eyes of God. They hold and held them as well. That salvation was not a one-time transaction whereby God the father imputed to the account of the sinner.

The righteousness of Christ.

The church maintain the justification was a process over the course of a lifetime with the hope that if you do everything that you're supposed to do that in the end your time in purgatory will be limited in your soul eventually go to heaven. One of the good things that you could do revolves around this doctrine of penance, which by the early 1500s was already beginning to stir up an incredible amount of strife and turmoil to make it worse or matters worse. Theologically, the sacrament of penance, which has no biblical basis included. Another thing that had no biblical basis and that was the issue of indulgences and indulgence involve some good deeds some prayer praying some prayer, some gifts, some candles, some visit the holy site. Some active sacrifice by doing any or all of the above. God is with each one of those acts to a small degree, satisfied, and you by doing them receive another small measure of grace. It was this issue alone that added immeasurably to the corruption of the medieval church. The church in fact developed an entire system of indulgences where a person could, in effect, paying for their forgiveness is with good deeds or or even monetary gifts. Many of the great cathedrals in Europe that I have had the opportunity to visit were financed literally by the sale of indulgences. People were told. Here's how you get forgiveness. Here's how you satisfy God is what to do to get a little more grace added to your account on your journey to heaven, and of course people then bought into that. For instance, in the year 1300, the Pope issued a Jubilee indulgence to all who visited the tombs of apostles on 15 successive days. Of course, he had tickets to see the tomb and that costing that sacred trip added grace to their their account by the 1500s indulgences were bringing so much money into the church that the church called a quote holy business" they had to engage a banking establishment in Germany handle all of the money St. Peter's in Rome was literally built on the back of the sale of forgiveness linked to the issue of indulgences. In this were. This is where it gets even worse was the matter of relics of the cathedrals it throughout Germany had on display thousands of relics that they claim were sacred pieces of collectibles ranging from a twig for Moses is burning bush to tear that Jesus shed when he wept over Jerusalem that didn't dissolve. I was in Europe a few years ago and I watched people filing in the sea on a holy relic that was able to be observed for a dollar so I got in line up because I felt I needed grace because I wanted to see what a relic was and we got behind the curtain there was a normal bony hand of a bishop or cardinal. I can't remember what of a thousand years, with rings all over his fingers. It was wrapped in satin and it literally made me churn for the rest of the day. By the early 1500s, there were so many people flocking to one particular city in Germany to pray the prayers of the sea. The sacred relics in the make the proper offerings for the sake of earning indulgences that the University in that city became completely endowed the name of that university was the University of Wittenberg or Wittenberg since it was also taught that indulgences could be earned, not only for yourself but for deceased loved ones who had already died.

You can imagine the fervency of people who now were not only adding merit to their own account, but adding merit to the account of those they loved already died. So the German city of Wittenberg was already overflowing with devoted followers of the church is believe the justification could be bought in the spring of 15, 17, and reached up a boiling point, a man under the authority of the Pope flying the banner of the current Pope arrived in the city.

His name was Johan Ted soul and he had come to raise money for the building of St. Peter's in Rome the words to one of his sermons are, and I quote, you should know whoever has confessed and is contrite and puts all homes or money into the box will have his sins forgiven. So why are you standing about idly run all of you for the salvation of your souls do not hear the voices of your dead parents and other people screaming out and saying, have pity on me. Have pity on me. We are suffering severe punishment and pain from which you could rescue us." Pilgrims, of course, rushed forward and earned their indulgences hopes to rescue not only their own souls with the souls of their loved ones who'd already died. St. peters was completed.

Johan Texel sermon. That spring was the last straw in the heart of a relatively unknown monk who was teaching New Testament studies and that university he had sometime earlier converted to faith in Christ alone on his own private study out of the Greek New Testament, the book of Romans. He was currently lecturing in that book when Texel arrived the professors name. Of course, was Martin Luther that brought it to a head in October of that same year Martin Luther attacked 95 theses or challenges to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. He wrote them.

By the way, in Latin, intending to begin a theological discussion only among the faculty of the University and and the religious leaders who were there. He just wanted to start up a debate within the faculty on the sale of indulgences and the issue of grace and forgiveness being purchased by good deeds and money, but in one of the great ironies of church history, which we now believe to be the providence of God. There was this new thing that it just begun to be developed called the printing press against Luther's own original desires is theses were translated into German. They were printed in mass and within two weeks they had been distributed to the entire German nation. The French attorney converted to the truth of this soul if it a movement now by his maturity. Consider the Reformation. He eventually formalized the protesters doctrine in his institutes derived directly from the authority of Scripture. His name was John Calvin. What I find absolutely amazing ladies and gentlemen is that 500 years later, the issue of the doctrine of justification is just as controversy as it was that in Romans chapter 3, Paul begins to summarize all that we have been studying in this great paragraph on the subject of soul. If a day or justification by faith alone, so want you to turn there and look at the next two verses that will deal with as he summarizes everything he's been saying and in here, you discover again the clear definition of justification by faith or salvation by justification. Look at verse 28 for we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law. See, this is why he could say in the previous verse. Look at verse 27 where then is boasting who has any right to puff out their chests and say look at me. I man because I'm better in the heaven because God's impress more with me than with that the Lord gives a great illustration of spiritual pride in Luke chapter 18 we talked about the two men went into the temple to pray. Remember the stories you read it the Pharisee and the tax collector Pharisee went in and began to pray. The text says the Pharisee stood and was praying. Thus, to himself I love the choice of words is always praying anybody else but himself. But he said in his prayer. God, I thank me that I am not like other people, and then he get specific with the people he has in mind, swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. Evidently while the Pharisee was praying at his eyes opening with spotted tax collector across the courtyard who was there as well. To pray there was anybody that was despised in the first century was the collector of taxes, some things don't really change right on the first century need to understand the tax collector was a Jew leased and in the surrounding area who would purchased from the government of Rome the right to turn around a Texas fellow brothers.

He gave Rome what was there do and then he patted the tax amount so that he patted his pocket and tax collectors were very wealthy men. You remember the story of Zaki's would stolen it was a very wealthy man because of his theft and so if there was anybody you were better than it ever century.

It was a tax collector. The Pharisees that I'm so thankful all God that that I'm not like other people like that lowlife over there that tax collector, and then he goes on with his self-congratulatory prayer I fast twice a week and I pay tithes of all I get that. Let me ask you something, was the Pharisee making this up. No duty fast twice a week. Yes to give tithes of all he had. Yes he did. Did he ever swindle or steal or take his neighbor's wife. No he didn't. Was he a good man absolutely model in that society of of an upstanding moral person, Jesus went on to say in a text with the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying God be merciful to me, the center when he looked up in this prayer of of repentance, deep confession says all God. I have nothing to offer you. I am the sinner, be merciful to me the word.

Be merciful is the word propitiation. Jesus said, I tell you, this man went down to his house justified same word Paul uses in Romans three this man went down to his house justified God imputed to his bankrupt account.

The righteousness of Christ who was yet to die and declared forgiven.

So the one who didn't boast became a true believer in the one you boasted was only playing make-believe. Paul says here in Romans 327. In effect, and the principle of true faith eliminates spiritual pride, for we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Could it be any clearer than that. Martin Luther wrote all who are justified are justified for nothing and this is credited to no one but to the grace of God. So where those who oppose this definition of faith apart from works find their support in Scripture. I'm glad you finally got around asking me that because that's a real spend the rest of our time.

They find their support in a verse of Scripture that seems to totally contradict what the apostle Paul has just said a verse of Scripture written by the apostle James, that is caused perhaps more confusion and debate and dissension and perhaps any other two verses when compared side-by-side as I want to see them side-by-side. Paul wrote in Romans 328 for we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works. James wrote you see that a man is justified by works and not by faith. Paul said justified by faith. James says justified by works whose right will mean answer that. Okay well I'll tell you they're both right.

The answer lies in understanding the mind of the Bible student to the different approaches these two men were taking to the very same subject.

There were two different purposes as I'll show you in a minute to different context to different objectives into different emphases that God intended to communicate through them. James, in fact, you want to take your Bibles and turn their James in chapter 2 is actually talking about three different kinds of faith. I think this is important to understand what he means when he gets to that verse that I just shown you side-by-side in James chapter 2 verse 14 he writes what use is it my brother and you want to underline that phrase because that is the key context within the mind of James. He is trying to show the. The importance of faith and if faith is without works, what use is say this twice what underline that with what use is it my brother and if a man says he has faith but he has no works can that faith save him. In other words, is that saving faith is saving faith, the kind of faith that doesn't have any works associated with it. Verse 15 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 worn to be filled in yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. This is the person is is yeah not go to heaven. Why do you know you got to go to heaven when I sign the card and walk the eyelet got baptized. I joined the church with you and I live you doing God, but I know I'm going because I've got faith yet if you look at our lives. You discover they have nothing to do with God. They say they have faith in Christ with Christ has no reign over their life. Christ has nothing to do their thoughts.

Christ has nothing to do their life crisis nothing to do their finances. Christ has nothing to do their crass vocabulary order sensual dress. Christ has nothing to do with their plans or their careers. Christ has nothing to do with the reading material or their schedules. Christ is just given token attention on Sunday for an hour or more, and then we had enough of Christ.

James says your deluded, your faith is dad. It's barren.

Not all see James has a different perspective on the subject of justification than the apostle Paul Fagg James and Paul end up complementing one another instead of apparently contradicting one another to get a miss it if you don't understand the differences between what Paul and James are attempting to communicate by virtue of the leadership of the Holy Spirit to let me point out very quickly. A number of differences between Paul and James that actually shows there complementing each other's message. First of all, they had different objectives. See Paul's objective is to define theologically justification to define salvation by faith alone.

He's writing theologically. James on the other hand, is illustrating justification. Justification is illustrated not by faith plus works but by faith that works, and he will use the illustration of Abraham and and Rahab as demonstrations of authentic faith. He wants to authenticate faith with life. He wants to see it. That's why he says what use is your faith that nobody ever sees that worked out isn't really alive. Let me illustrate James illustration Marsha and I brought home from the hospital at some point in our marriage for babies. I mentioned to you before when I was in seminary we decided together that we wouldn't have any children so that we could focus on our schooling. However, in my last semester of seminary. God revealed a sense of humor by giving us two of them at the same time both of them were delivered at Baylor Hospital which is about a block away by a wonderful doctor who gave Dallas seminary students free deliveries of their babies. Praise God for him. I remember when the first of the twins was born.

He he he was born crying didn't stop for quite a while, but to he was born that way, and two minutes later the second one was delivered and after a little tense moment of silence in the SMAC. He began to cry. I remember we all breathe a sigh of relief because we had those boys hooked up to monitors. Of course, and he was higher up in the womb and in whatever Marsha would have a contraction. His heart rate would dramatically decrease and there was great concern have delivered. So when he was delivered and then he cried out, we knew his heart was beating was the only time his crying was a wonderful thing, but his cry. Ladies and gentlemen did not give him life his cry revealed that there was life it it didn't produce life that cry. It proved life existed, so also James is illustrating the fact that good works do not produce life.

They prove life exists so we can say this way, faith in Christ produces life work for Christ proves life that you also need to notice that Paul and James have different emphases. Paul is emphasizing the foundation for our salvation which is justification by faith alone. James is emphasizing the fruit after salvation, which is of course works and not faith alone. In other words, faith, James is trying to make the point faith without fruit isn't genuine faith at all true faith is revealed in fruit. The person who says that they have faith in Jesus Christ that have no evidence of fruit, no desire for worship.

No submission to the to the sovereign kingship of Christ is deluded.

See it isn't enough to say I have faith. James says and that's all you have is a lot IFA says your deceived because there's no fruit between the two of these men and there's also a different audience in mind. I want to catch this point Paul is talking about being justified in the eyes of God go back and read the paragraph over again in Romans three, and then read it again and he is declaring the truth that in the eyes of God. A man is justified by faith alone. James is talking about being justified in the eyes of man, you are not justified in the eyes of man by faith they really could care less. And beyond that they can't see it. You could tell me you had faith. James makes this very point in what is that mean you will be justified as authentic in the eyes of man Mark glorify God, serve Christ allow them to change your heart and that is the process of a lifetime. We call it sanctification, not justification, but we are justified in the eyes of God by faith alone. We are justified in the eyes of man by works a lot that's James point in verse 24 you see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone in our people can see your faith and that's all you have and I can see your works. There is an justification in the eyes of man, it's worthless.

Works revealed the people that your faith exists. Furthermore, you need to see the Paul and James are actually after different results.

Paul wants us to be able to defend our faith. James wants us to be able to demonstrate our faith true saving faith is independent of good works.

However, true saving faith works.

James, I think is startling his readers as much as it might startle you with the truth that a profession of faith is meaningless without the practice of faith and Fagg James, I believe, is actually saying that those who profess faith who do not practice faith do not possess faith, authentic, genuine faith.

John Calvin then wrote along those lines. In the early 1500s. It is faith alone that justifies, but faith that justifies is never what is never alone. You want to be justified before God. That is faith in Christ alone going to be justified before mankind you want to be real when people look at your life and say there's an authentic person who who lives in surrender to Jesus Christ. I don't believe that stuff but I can sure tell he does. I can sure tell she does. Jesus said of the world see your light. Let them see your good works at them see your good works that they may glorify your father who is in heaven.

Whatever you do, ladies and gentlemen don't pick Paul and James against each other on the same side put them together and get a full rich understanding of the subject of Nunnally justification by faith alone. Justification by works alone justification before God and justification for men the gospel war is only a war when you miss the differences between Paul and James in their objective and their audience and their emphasis and their intended result.

After deciding on the title of the sermon and sending it to the communication department I came across a quote that I so enjoyed and appreciated. Because get the same flavor in his exposition 100 years ago the BH Griffith Thomas wrote this nearly hundred years ago, Paul and James are not soldiers of different armies fighting against each other, but soldiers of the same army fighting back to back against enemies coming from opposite direction. You need to understand that Paul was fighting against the enemy, called faith plus works James is fighting against the enemy, called faith, that doesn't work either enemy is deadly either enemy is fruitless either enemy will lead you into a useless life either enemy. I believe ladies and gentlemen is another gospel truth is those who are justified by faith without works or those then with great gratitude turn in work. I find the greatest fulfillment in serving glorifying and honoring and obeying the great God and Savior, the Redeemer of the Lord Jesus Christ for the one was true saving faith would echo the words of Paul said it is my high ambition in life to be pleasing to God or truly say it's because of faith and not because of works but if you're truly saved your faith will live itself out in obedience. What a great reminder today. This is wisdom for the heart with Stephen Devi.

Today's message is called the gospel war. Paul versus James, this is an important topic and it would likely help you to be able to listen to it again. It's posted right now to our website which is wisdom online God or when you get there, scroll down a little bit and there's a section right on that homepage were the current days message when we come back tomorrow.

Stephen will have the last message in this series so left today.

So join us here on wisdom for the heart

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