"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Monday, September 14, 2020

SHOW CASE SALVATION – Examination of JAMES 2 and 1 JOHN 2 - PART ONE of TWO

~ By James Fire

PART One: James Chapter 2

It’s the desire of everyone that’s received salvation through Christ to express their gratitude and worship of the LORD for what He has done, for what He is doing, and for what He has promised to do for us, in us, and through us.

In dying on the cross for our sins, in His burial in the tomb, in resurrecting to new life, the LORD provides forgiveness for us by His sacrificial death, the ability for us to die to self as He also died and was buried in the tomb (a spiritual dynamic that is exemplified in baptism) and gives to us His Spirit by resurrection, as the Spirit of the LORD no longer dwells in temples made of stone (HEB 9:11-15), but in the hearts of His saints, the children of GOD.
The truth that GOD Himself dwells in us with the life that is Christ means that we’re able to produce fruit for His glory, the fruit of the Holy Spirit (GAL 5:22) and as His children, we begin to grow in our spirituality and become more and more like the LORD Jesus.

Both James, the elder of Jerusalem as well as John the apostle elaborate on what this means in their epistles, in their two respective chapters (Chapter 2 for them both), and what they have to say is rather hard-hitting, challenging, and direct. 

Everyone who expresses genuine faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross for our salvation is justified – the penalty of sin is eviscerated from our very being. We will not suffer the condemnation and judgment for our sin, because Christ was condemned in the flesh (ROM 8:3) on our behalf, and the judgment for our sin fell upon Him (ISA 53:4-6)*. We are considered just in the eyes of GOD Almighty, because of Christ's atonement for sin and granting the Spirit of GOD to us!

* Check out the TTUF articles entitled, ALTAR of the ALMIGHTY Part One and Two, that will plunge the depths of ISA 53 and PSALM 22!

Nothing we do can be added to this work of justification; this is wholly the ministry of Christ Jesus, our Blessed Redeemer. To even attempt to do so is blasphemy because it would attempt to equate our “filthy rags” (ISA 64:6) to the holy character of Christ (1 PET 1:19; HEB 4:15).

Just as justification takes away the penalty of sin from us, sanctification takes away the power of sin over us, not immediately, but over the course of time as we mature spiritually, until we are completely sanctified (and glorified) at the appearance of Christ Jesus our LORD, when we see Him face to Face (1 JOHN 3:2). Just as justification happens in the lives of the saints, by the grace of GOD, so too does sanctification, which leads to the production of good fruit and, or good works:
JOHN 15:5
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them
Such sanctification is the birthright and the (super)natural outflow of every saint of GOD; all believers are considered saints, and the word for ‘saint’ comes from the same Greek word used for ‘sanctify’ (hagios). Just as we are counted holy in our position in Christ, holiness is something that's created in us as we yield to Christ and practice holiness (HEB 12:14; 1 TIM 4:8; 2 COR 7:1).
In Part One of this article, we’ll find out what the elder James has to say about this and in Part Two, what the apostle John has to say about what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

So let’s take a look at the entire 2nd chapter of James!

The Works That Condemn:

In this second chapter James deals with sins of partiality, judging according to the flesh, and esteeming worldly things over spiritual things. Previously in Chapter One he addressed what true religion was about vs. false. He also admonished the saints to be “doers of the Word and not hearers only” (JAMES 1:22). This tells us that there is more to the Christian walk than believing faith; there is practicing faith. We'll examine the following passage:

JAMES 2:1-25
vs. 1-6
My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you and draw you before the judgment seats?

It isn’t necessarily that the poor are inherently spiritual or godly; there are many who are very avaricious, greedy and willing to steal for what they want; but there are just as many who understand that life is not about material wealth, but about relationships based on love and mutual respect. Because they understand how helpless they are, this puts them in a place of humility, so that they recognize their dire need for the LORD. Among these, there are indeed those who are “rich in faith” because they are unable to empower any change in life on their own. They look to GOD, not their meager bank account (if they have one at all).

The wealthy on the other hand are often arrogant, proud, disdaining of those weaker than themselves; predatorial – they often prey upon the poor and helpless; the elder James even points out that these oppress members of the church! Here he rebukes the church who esteem these sort of wealthy folk and disdain those who are of humble dispositions.

Vs. 7-9
7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? 8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors

Love for our neighbor is equated with the natural love that all of us have for ourselves (EPH 5:29); this love is to be demonstrated regardless of any person’s station in life. We are to treat everyone with the same love and compassion, even loving those who are wealthy and arrogant with the truth of love: that they are no different than the homeless person on the street without two cents to rub together.

Vs. 10
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all

This sounds unfair on the surface; after all, why should I be found guilty of the whole law if I’ve only offended on one point (this in itself is a conjecture, because truth be told, we’ve all violated far more than a single law over the course of our lifetimes!). 

By committing a sin, there's evidence that we have a sin nature. We don’t become sinners when we commit a sin; we are proving ourselves to possess a sin-nature already by sinning. The bad fruit of our unholy, wicked nature proves itself out by our actions (JER 17:9; MATT 7:18). This should leave us spiritually as the poor man is financially – completely bankrupt and helpless to help ourselves with any sense of self-righteousness. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of GOD” (MATT 5:3). Check out the video teaching by pastor Sonny Islas of SHINE BRIGHT Church that expounds on this verse! 

Vs. 11-13
11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment

We might grade sin on a curve and weigh them against each other, and determine in our own minds, those that are worse than others; but the bottom line, in GOD’s Holy Eyes (and His holiness is so extreme, it's beyond our comprehension!), every sin is contemptible to the Kingdom of GOD, and worthy of righteous condemnation. Those who show no mercies shall themselves be judged without any mercy. It is the mercy of GOD as found in the Person of Jesus Christ that avails against the pure justice that GOD will render on the Day of Judgment against all sin – not one shall remain hidden; His holy eyes see all, knows all, and will address all on that Day!
JOHN 3:18-20
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved
These are the works of ungodly men, who will be judged and condemned for that which their hearts bring forth into their observable lives, their words, and deeds.
MATTHEW 15:18-19
18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
From here, James is going to address the issue of justification by faith, that is evidenced (not produced) by faith in action – that is, godliness and righteousness.

The Works That Commend:

Vs. 14-16
14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

James starts right out talking about faith and the claim one might make that they have faith. He asks the question, Can faith save him without works which would validify that faith? He used an analogy of someone in the faith who needs food and clothing – and you say to them, have your hunger satisfied, and be clothed so that you are no longer naked – and just leave it at that, what good is it? If you truly mean to bless them, then provide those necessities that will do so; feed them and clothe them. That will put substance to your intent and be beneficial. Words alone do nothing.

Vs. 17
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone

Is there such a thing as a ‘dead faith’? Yes, for sure; Paul the apostle spoke of those who may have “believed in vain” the Gospel:
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain
He speaks of false brethren (2 COR 11:26; GAL 2:4).

The LORD Jesus Christ challenged the faith of some that claimed to follow Him, who claimed to believe in Him, but nevertheless, turned away from Him and followed Him no more (JOHN 6:66).
Also consider JOHN 8:30 where it states that “many believed on Him”, but then in the next few verses we read:
JOHN 8:31-34
31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin
And then:
JOHN 8:44-45
44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not
Just as Paul spoke of false brethren, the LORD Jesus Himself spoke of tares among the wheat, which until the time of fruit bearing came, were indistinguishable (MATT 13:25-40) and in verse 38 He identifies who the tares are: “the children of the wicked one”. These resemble the children of the LORD so much, that they can’t be told apart – until when? When the time of fruit-bearing comes (or as the case may be “good works” TITUS 2:14); we’ll take a closer look at this reference later. 

Then it’s known who is saved and who is not. The fruit/good works doesn’t save us, these merely demonstrate that a genuine work of salvation has taken place in the heart of one who expresses genuine faith, just as James continues to explain.

Vs. 18-20
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

Genuine faith in the Gospel will yield salvation, specially justification, and justification by faith produces works that shows the faith to be real. Satan and all the hordes of hell – they certainly believe (MARK 1:24; LUKE 4:34), so much so that they tremble! But they are condemned by GOD forever and ever. 

James repeats, faith without works is dead: it is the kind of faith that's produced by false brethren, of tares, of those who claim to believe in Christ, but who inevitably “turn away and [follow] Him no more” and refuse to repent of their dead works (HEB 6:1). They are those spoken of in ISA 29:13 that serve with their lips, but not with their hearts; compare this with
ROMANS 10:9-10
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Now James uses Abraham as an example of this:

Vs. 21-23 
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

People say that the works we do as Christians is part of the sanctification process, and while it’s true that as a result of sanctification, we become more and more Christ-like and fruit becomes evident, here in verse 21 it specifically states that Abraham was justified by works – that is, the offering of Isaac upon the altar.

Here’s a vital point that must be made – when was Abraham justified in the sight of GOD and what happened that prompted the LORD to declare this man of GOD as justified?
ROMANS 4:2-3 says,
2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. (See also GAL 3:6)
This properly reveals that Abraham wasn’t justified by works – so is this a contradiction here in the Holy Scriptures? Or is Paul emphasizing something other than what James addresses?

Let’s look at GENESIS 15:5-6 that the apostle Paul quotes from:
5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6 And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

This work of justification was accomplished when Abram believed GOD’s Word. Yet when did he offer up Isaac? That wasn’t until GENESIS 22:9-12. This was the work that, according to James the elder, proved Abraham’s faith to be valid.
Yet while he was already declared justified by GOD in GENESIS 15, his faith was demonstrated in GENESIS 22. When it’s GOD Who declares us justified, it follows then that GOD works in the heart, in the life of a believer, so that their faith is demonstrated!

This is what James means when he says,

“Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect [or 'complete']?”
Abraham couldn’t possibly be justified by sacrificing his son to GOD – that’s what the pagan nations all around Abraham did, in order to find favor with their false gods. He was justified when by faith He simply believed GOD’s Word, in just the same way we are all justified when we believe GOD’s Word, represented in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 
But when Abraham moved to obey GOD, in doing something that seemed completely contrary to GOD’s plan for his life (and that of his son’s!), he trusted and obeyed: “trust and obey, for there’s no other way…”. He proved his faith, saving faith that declared him righteous, was genuine by his actions. 

Now let’s return to the book of TITUS and examine some related verses:
TITUS 2:11-14
11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works
Salvation is the all-inclusive work of Jesus Christ on behalf of those who trust in Him; from Scofield’s notes:
“The Heb. and (Greek - ἀλεκτοροφωνία, safety, preservation, healing, and soundness). Salvation is the great inclusive word of the Gospel, gathering into itself all the redemptive acts and processes: as justification, redemption, grace, propitiation, imputation, forgiveness, sanctification, and glorification. Salvation is in three tenses:

“(1) The believer has been saved from the guilt and penalty of sin Luke 7:50; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:15; Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 2:8; 2 Timothy 1:9 and is safe.
“(2) the believer is being saved from the habit and dominion of sin Romans 6:14; Philippians 1:19; Philippians 2:12; Philippians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Romans 8:2; Galatians 2:19; Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 3:18.
“(3) The believer is to be saved in the sense of entire conformity to Christ. Romans 13:11; Hebrews 10:36; 1 Peter 1:5; 1 John 3:2. Salvation is by grace through faith, is a free gift, and wholly without works; Romans 3:27; Romans 3:28; Romans 4:1-8; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8. The divine order is: first salvation, then works; Ephesians 2:9; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 3:5-8.”
Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts is what the grace of GOD (that brings us salvation) teaches us; further it teaches us to live soberly, righteously and godly in this fallen world of sin, as it is presently. The LORD Jesus Christ gave Himself to us in sacrifice and redeemed us from all iniquity; the grace of GOD purifies us as a peculiar (purchased [by the blood]) people, zealous of good works.

These are the trademarks of the saint: denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly, righteously, godly, being purified and zealous for good works: all by the grace of GOD in that aspect of sanctification. No where in Scripture is this seen as an optional step, or a higher tier that is not associated with justification.

It’s important to realize that while sanctification is not included in justification (our justification in Christ stands alone), but that it’s in association with justification. 

The train car is not the engine; they are distinct from one another, but the train car is associated with the engine, connected to it, and it’s proper that the car should be connected to it, so that passengers may be transported. Otherwise, either of them being by themselves are ineffectual. Without the engine (which is the power) the passengers aren't transported. Without the car, however, the passengers won't get to where they are scheduled to go and will get nowhere! 

Vs. 24
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only

Anyone can claim to have faith in salvation, including the false brethren previously mentioned. Both false brethren and the newly, and truly converted saint who is freshly born again of the Spirit will or may be absent of any fruit respectively. Yet for the truly converted, there will be fruit. The LORD Jesus Christ said so,
JOHN 15:1-8
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away*: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
*- There are some who use this verse to prove that loss of salvation is possible, yet if one examines the words, “take away” doesn’t mean to cut off from the vine, but “to lift up, to raise”, to take away in the sense of vine branches off the ground, because such branches won’t produce fruit in such a state.

The one who abides in Christ – and these are the true children of GOD – will (not might, or possibly as an elective) bring forth “much fruit” (vs. 5). Such production glorifies the Father, and what true child of GOD sees glorifying the Father as optional? Rather it is the very pulse of their life, the motive that drives their day, the throb of their heart, the earnestness of their will!
Those that don’t abide, it says in vs. 6 will be burned – this is the lot of the lost, who because they don’t abide in Christ, will face judgment, and for lack of any evidence of godliness that is by the grace found in Christ Jesus (1 TIM 6:3; 2 TIM 3:12; TITUS 1:1) – an apparent absence of fruit, will be cast into hellfire.
LUKE 3:8-9
8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 9 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire
The Jews depended on their association by nationality to Abraham as their claim to salvation. Today, people depend on their association by affiliation to a particular church (and church attendance) or a denomination as their claim to salvation; or because they follow a certain teacher; or because there was one time they attended a crusade or conference where the Gospel was presented, and they said a sinner’s prayer – none of these things in and of themselves can or will save you.

As for a church, denomination, or pastor – or missionary parents; being associated with any of these and depending on them for salvation is kindred to a branch abiding in a branch that is presumably abiding in the vine – an untenable and unbiblical association. EVERY branch is to abide in the vine for themselves: a direct connection by faith to the LORD Jesus Christ and the graces He provides for each of us saints.

In regards to a ‘sinner’s prayer’ – while we don’t see any specific template in Scripture that is the definitive “sinner’s prayer” such prayer is not unbiblical (consider LUKE 18:13), if such prayer is not born of legitimate repentance and “mixed with faith”, it will profit them nothing (HEB 4:2).

On the issue of repentance, follow this link that examines what it means and its necessity as a sinner as well as a saint; for a treatment on “the sinner’s prayer” check out this article FROM the MIND of FIRE: The SINNER’s PRAYER – Is It Biblical 

Vs. 25-26 25
Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also

A body in consistent activity is alive and moving; even in sleep, one can perceive the chest of one in such a state, rising and falling, and the person shifting and rolling over, evidencing that life is present. Likewise, those who are exercising biblical faith are moving and advancing in the kingdom of GOD, conducting spiritual activity, apparent in their good fruit and good works.

For an excellent article that relates to much of what’s presented in this two part article is A.M. Kisly’s treatment on LORDSHIP Salvation: What Is True Faith? 

Here we shall end PART One of this article; and here is PART Two. And if you think James was tough, wait until you find out what the apostle John has to say about who the genuinely saved are and who are not! 
We’ll also take a look at some of the “hard sayings” that the LORD Jesus Christ Himself declared, particularly about discipleship (definitely not for the faint of heart!).

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