Abraham / faith verses deeds

Spiritual hari kari

If one hasn’t noticed it yet, I will give you insight into the cornerstone of The Gospel According the Gospel’s doctrine.  This cornerstone is our father Abraham and the covenant that God made with him and his descendants.  Everything, even our very gospel was announced to Abraham according to scripture.  Here at The Gospel According to the Gospel I advocate that we Christian believers have nothing on our father Abraham when it comes to position and relationship with God.

We find evidence of this again in the debate over grace verses works.  Somehow our father Abraham has found himself in the middle of this very controversial and polarizing topic.  And once again he has become our example to follow not only concerning imputed righteousness, faith, promises, covenants, etc., he has become our example in the debate of grace verses works.

There are a whole lot of “Christians” who say they have a salvation based solely on grace and works has nothing to do with it.  This is the Calvinist view of their “salvation”.  They would contend that anyone else who believes that salvation is contingent upon works is a heretic and an ignorant misguided fool who loves to squalor in error. 

But what does scripture say about a person’s faith and its relationship to works?  Isn’t this the crux of the matter?  Isn’t the heart of this topic based upon what scripture says?  Isn’t the heart of the matter the answer to the question, can a man be saved by faith alone?  Calvinist say absolutely yes!  Others say apparently not.  James asks the same question when he ask if faith without deeds can save a man.

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.[1]

James says that faith without deeds is about as useful to a person as a pat on the back and a good farewell is helpful to someone who is cold, naked or hungry.  A pat on the back to someone in such need is about as useful as a stick in the eye.  He concludes that our faith that does not follow up with works is as useful to the believer as a cresset wrench to a cave man.

He so desired to drive the point home that he contrasted the faith of those who have no works to those spiritual beings who believe there is one God too.  He states that such a faith is as helpful to save about as much as the confidence of God’s existence ability to save the demonic.

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.[2]

Now to our father Abraham, this is where he once again is at the heart of our gospel.  James is brutish to some degree in his emphaticness that faith without deeds is absolutely useless.  He calls those who insist that their faith can save them without works as foolish. 

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ?[3]

In other words, Calvinist and anyone else who insist that their salvation is not contingent upon works are fools.  Why fools?  Because your faith is as useful to your goal of salvation as knowledge of God is useful to save demons.  Now laying down evidence of what the Calvinist refuse to believe, James speaks of our father Abraham.  You know the same guy who Paul said is our father if we walk in the faith our father Abraham had.

And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.[4]

Now what kind of faith does James say is the pattern of faith we find in Abraham? 

Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.[5]

Calvinist insist that we are complete in our faith and nothing is lacking in our eternal position.  That works is simply the result of faith, as if works is just a byproduct.  James, whom I would conclude is more canonical than the teaching of Calvinist, says that works is more than a byproduct.  He says faith is incomplete without it.  As in not whole, as not sufficient without works.  That is why he states that even the great man of faith, our father Abraham, was not subject to faith alone to be justified.

Hmm, Hmmm Hmmm mmm……..

I thought I would give you Calvinist some space to rant and rave at the comment that not even Abraham was justified by his faith alone.  Especially since this is the heart of your doctrine, that we are justified by faith alone and this without works.  But if not even he was justified by faith alone, then where do you thing we stand, when you pronounce justified without works?  If you still can’t figure it out, let me let James make it plain to you.

You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.[6]

Oh the horror, oh the shame, oh the controversy to the Calvinist that canonical scripture actually says in plain language that, “a person is justified by what he does.” And this not by faith alone. 

How is it that a harlot could understand and live by such principles, but theologians can not?  She knew and believed in the stories she heard about the God of the Hebrews and what He was doing for them, but did that save her?  No it was deeds by which she was considered righteous.  Again this is explained in plain canonical language, not implied or hinted at.

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?[7]

So there is actually spiritual truth in the teaching that faith is worthless, incomplete, without effect and impact without deeds to make it whole.

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.[8]

Now since the Calvinist doctrine of saving faith is as good as dead like the body without the spirit, they have impaled themselves in an act of spiritual hari-kari with their doctrine.  What they think brings them spiritual understanding and enlightenment has actually brought them and their followers death.  That is unless they think they are greater than the proclaimed friend of God, our father Abraham.

Well, are you?

[1] James 2:14-17

[2] Jude 2:19

[3] James 2:20

[4] Romans 4:12

[5] James 2:21-23

[6] James 2:24

[7] James 2:25

[8] James 2:26

5 thoughts on “Abraham / faith verses deeds

  1. Well reasoned argument. I agree with you.

    I think we can become more in tune with what God would like us to do, if we were more altruistic and provided unconditional love to others, expecting nothing in return.

    Don’t know if that’s just a Christian thought or an inter-faith one involving Judaism, Islam, Hindu and Buddhist thought, not to mention some nice “new agers” with a spiritual thirst for Truth.


    michael j
    Conshohocken, PA USA

    • Contoveros,

      I thank you for your kind remarks concerning my post. However your comments left me a little confused. You seem to come from many angles. Could you give me a snap shot into what you believe?


      • There is one God with many faces and pathways leading to heaven here on Earth.

        I want to explore most, if not all, of them

        Guess you would call me an “Interfaith Junkie.”

        michael j

        • Thank you so much for responding. I say this because I do not share your views that one God has many faces, and I am always happy to talk to other people who do not share my views. I do this in the community I live in and am considered a brother by others who do not share my views either.

          That said, I was curious as to what you read in the post that you originally responded to that you felt was a good and useful point. Was it the idea that people need to act out their faith, and you see this as doing good to each other?


  2. Pingback: Changing the debate « The Gospel According to the Gospel

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