Summary: To establish that believers are justified or saved, through faith and obedience to God. This lesson answers the question: Can anyone be justified or saved by faith alone, apart from works, or obedience unto God? There is no truth in the teaching: "Justified or saved by faith only?"
1. Justified By Faith Only?
1. In this lesson today, we will be discussing the theme: “Justified By Faith Only?" This is the third lesson in the sermon-series entitled: "Re-digging in Old Wells." There will be many others bearing this title. We are re-digging in old wells, to obtain what Isaiah promised: "With joy, you will draw water from the wells of salvation," Isaiah 12:3. There are times we must re-dig in old wells to obtain the joy found in the: "waters of salvation." This sermon type is called: "expository preaching." In these lessons, our goal will be: "to dig a little deeper" in the text of emphasis. We will allow the writer, the characters in the verses, and the Master's words to shed new meaning to His words of eternal life, John 6:63; John 10:10.
2. We will consider this question is a man: "Justified By Faith Only?” By this, we mean: Can a person be justified or saved by faith alone, apart from works of righteousness, or acts of obedience unto God? Is there such a thing as: "Saved by faith only?" We will re-dig in old wells to find a biblical answer. Ulysses Shields, called this kind of teaching: "digging a little deeper," in the word of truth. He was my grandfather in Christ. We will use as a foundational text for this sermon-series: "And Isaac re-dug the wells of water, which they had dug in the days of Abraham...for the Philistines had stopped them (closed them up) after Abraham’s death, etc.,” Genesis 26:18. The Philistines: “Stopped them, and filled them with earth,” because they envied Isaac’s possessions, Genesis 26:14-15.
3. Our scripture of emphasis, reads like this: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac, his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works (obedience) and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: He was called the Friend of God. Ye see then that by works a man is justified, and NOT by faith only,” James 2:21-24. Some find these James’ words conflicting with Paul’s discourse, about Abraham’s faith, in Romans 4:1-5. We will attend to this concern in the lesson.
4. These verses may be troubling to the readers; but, what they do not say is: Abraham was saved or justified by faith ONLY. We will exegete these verses in the lesson. However, it is essential to consider every text within the context of the scriptures. With God’s help, we will do just that, to draw: “New water from old wells.” With this introduction, let’s consider this topic carefully, with both our bibles and hearts opened unto the living God.
BODY OF LESSON
I JUSTIFIED BY FAITH ONLY?
A. Background scriptural study. Preceding James' question: "Was not Abraham, our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac, his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works (obedience) and by works was faith made perfect?” James 2:21-22. He laid for us a foundation for these words: faith and works, in Chapter 1. Let’s review James’ preliminary work before we exegete the text of emphasis in this lesson.
1. James wrote: “But be (become) you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourself. For if any be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed,” James 1:22-25. James uses some action words (verbs) to help us understand his use of the words “faith and works,” in the context of this scripture. His action words: i.e., doers, hearers, work, and deed. Let’s review them in the context of the scriptures, leading up to our text of emphasis. Observe--
2. Action words. James provides some “action words,” we must first consider in this study of faith: “i.e., doers, hearers, work and deed.” Faith is a word of action! Let's examine each of these words in their original language. This will help us understand James’ meaning and their use as we move forward in the lesson. Observe--
a. First, the phrase: “but be (become) you doers of the word.” The word “doers” in Gr., is poietes or poi-a-ta's, which means one who is a: --doer, of the work; or one who obeys or fulfills the law. True believers are doers (obedient) to the word and not just hearers (listeners) of the word.