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Summary: This study endeavors to strike a Scriptural balance between faith and works.

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email: cholt@gt.rr.com

BY GRACE . . . BY WORKS

By Charles W. Holt

Eph. 2:8-10

James 2:14-25

Faith works!

No, I really mean it. Faith works.

But, you may reply, every Christian knows that. My response: not necessarily.

My argument here is that too many have a one-dimensional view of faith. Let me illustrate. If I said "faith works," to those who propose that it is God’s will to heal ALL, that these are the days of miracles, signs and wonders, their instant response would be a resounding AMEN! It is the only way to obtain the miracle of healing, they would say. The person healed would agree, "faith certainly worked for me. I’m healed."

There is no denying that faith brings healing. It was so for the woman with an issue of blood. When she reached out and touched the hem of Christ’s garment, "Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort, thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour" (Mt. 9:22 KJV). In the same chapter, two blind men come to Jesus, "and Jesus said unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you" (vs. 28,29). That is one-dimensional faith.

If I said "faith works" to those who propose that it is God’s will that every Christian is to prosper, i.e., be rich, wealthy, "increased with goods and have need of nothing" their instant response would be a resounding AMEN! It is the only way to obtain the abundance of blessings that, they say, is bound in the words, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth" (3 John 1:1 KJV). There is no doubt that faith brings the supply of every need, "according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." And, "thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day" (Dt. 8:18 KJV). That is one-dimensional faith.

If I said "faith works" to anyone, who understands God’s plan of eternal redemption through the shed blood and resurrection of Jesus, confesses as much and is "born again" their instant response would be a resounding AMEN! It is the only way to obtain the forgiveness of sins and receive eternal life. They would be correct if they chose to recite a small part of the so-called "Roman Road" model from Romans 10:9,10, "that if thou shalt confess with they mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Or, Paul’s exhortation to the Philippian jailer saying, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." A sinner so saved could give a ringing testimony, "faith sure worked for me and changed my life." And, oh, yes, we must not forget the crown jewel of all texts in this case that declares, "For by grace are ye saved through faith . . . not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8,9 KJV). And that is one-dimensional faith.

What one thing can we say is the common denominator in all these examples? In each case, where is the focus? For the person who said, "faith worked for me when I got healed" the focus is upon "my healing." Yes, sir, faith works!

For the person who said, "faith worked for me and I have lots of money now," the focus is upon "how rich I am." Yes, sir, you better believe faith works.

For the person who said, "faith worked for me and I am now saved from my sins and if I died tonight I know I would go to heaven," the focus is upon "Jesus saved me." I know absolutely faith works.

In every case the emphasis is upon what each person has received. What I got. What happened to me. These are examples of one-dimensional faith.

The problem with one-dimensional faith is that, in fact, it does not always work. If I asked, "does faith work?" Your first response might be, "Absolutely!" But I am arguing, "absolutely not!" In the Scriptural meaning and application of faith, faith does not always work. If you say this is confusing and seemingly contradictory then I know I am doing a good job at what I have set out to do.

Speaking of contradictions . . .

Has anyone ever said something to this effect: I don’t read the Bible because, in the first place I don’t understand it, and one of the reasons I can’t understand it is because it contains so many contradictions. Does the Bible contradict itself? That’s a good question and deserving of some sort of answer. What answer do you give? I think one of the most honest answers to the question is yes, there are places in the Bible that seem to be contradictory or inconsistent with other portions of the Bible. I don’t have a problem with that. It has been my experience that when so-called contradictions arise (and disputes arise as a result of them) it is found in some fuzzy or otherwise confusing area of what I term as Biblical minutia a.k.a. trivial detail. I will listen to what people have to say, wonder to myself at the amazing deductions they can make (mountains from molehills?) from the proverbial "shred of evidence" without feeling the slightest need to enter into their morass of twisted illogic.

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