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Arch you claim:
"The order should run:
1) Faith (belief in the simplest form initially)
2) Works (in order to vitalize the above faith)
I have read my Bible (ASV-1901 is my favorite English translation) from cover to cover & marked every verse on the subject of salvation, including such passages as some might claim (erroneously) to be about salvation. One of the things that confuses some is that salvation & judgment are 2 different subjects. Salvation is always by grace through faith alone; judgment is always by works.
Note that if you are going to discuss salvation, you should quote verses that speak of salvation primarily, rather than of judgment. You quote Mat 7:21 where no form of the word "save" occurs.
Read carefully Eph 2: "8 for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not of works, that no man should glory. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them."
The order is Faith, Salvation, Good Works. You seem not to understand that salvation is first about a new birth, a transformation from a sinful Adamic person to a child of God; then salvation is secondly about a free ticket to Heaven or eternal life. You can't have eternal life until you are born again.
Now look at your verse:
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."
The Kingdom of Heaven is not Heaven. It refers to Christ's Davidic Kingdom to be established on earth with Israel, which Kingdom was the keynote of the message of John the Baptist, Christ, & the apostles on earth: "Repent; for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Israel failed to repent & failed to enter. Good works were required. This verse does not mention that you cannot do good works until you trust Christ as Savior & are born again. But that is a fact. Ye must be born again. We must be God's workmanship, recreated into a worker of good works before we will do good works. And that recreation depends solely on faith. Good Works will follow genuine faith. Even the thief on the cross did the work of giving a public confession.
But scripture is clear that good works do not secure salvation, but are the result of salvation. And a declaration of righteousness is based solely on trusting Christ as Savior. In fact, if you try to be saved by good works, you are NOT trusting Christ as Savior & impede the whole process.
Romans 4: "For what saith the scripture? And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. 4 Now to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned as of grace, but as of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness. 6 Even as David also pronounceth blessing upon the man, unto whom God reckoneth righteousness apart from works."
Of course as you point out, the issue is not professing belief in Christ; it is actively doing so. Indeed there are many pretend Christians.
"If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15
Of course, but that has nothing to do with securing a transforming new birth from the Lord, nor with obtaining eternal life. Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Good works are called fruit in the Bible. We abide in Christ to bear fruit (John 15); we walk by the Holy Spirit & our good works are then called the fruit of the Spirit. If we confront God's law, His righteous demands, clench our teeth & declare, "I'm going to be good; I'm going to be good" and strain on that basis, we shall meet frustration, because the works of the flesh (old Adamic human nature) are only sins, as listed in Galatians 5. Even the Christian won't find success on that basis alone (Romans 7; the good that I would do, I don't do).
Good works indeed must & will be in every genuine Christian's life; but they are themselves a product of salvation, not the cause of it. In fact an attempt at salvation by works denies the term salvation -- you are then seeking validation, not salvation, even if you call it "salvation." Salvation means I am a wretched sinner; Christ paid for my sins; He says trust Me, & I will make you new & give you the gift of eternal life by grace.
You quote James
"Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." James 2:24" James must be understood in context & in correlation with the rest of scripture. YOU SEE. In the sight of men their good works do declare that they are righteous. But at the bar of God's justice, as the rest of scripture teaches, salvation is by grace through faith. Over & over again faith or belief is put forth as a sole condition of justification.
As Acts 16 says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved." Now if any man believes in Christ (trusts Him as Savior) and is not saved then, the Lord would be a liar; but the Lord always tells the truth through His prophets.
"A man needs faith to achieve salvation, true. However, the man is not wholly justified until this faith also has works. From this we derive that a man is not justified unto salvation until that faith has works.
As such, we know that works follow faith but also that works necessarily precede salvation."
Bringing in works as a cause of salvation is the essence of NOT trusting Christ to save you. He must save, & He alone. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot pay for our sins; we cannot give ourselves a new God-loving nature;. "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags," as Isaiah states.
Arch, let me urge you to stop trusting in yourself as your own savior. You can't save yourself by your good works. Let that all go; repent of it; trust the Lord Jesus & Him alone.
"For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Why not right now, call out:
"Lord Jesus, please change me, give me a new nature, make me a child of God, transform me, & give me your free gift of eternal life. I do now trust you as my only and sufficient Savior, and I depend on your atonement to pay for my sins."
I stand by what I put forth before, your citing of irrelevent Scripture or false exegesis of the verses I gave you prove nothing.
I agree that faith is necessary, but if you cannot understand that works are important and necessary to prove this faith, then you truly have misunderstood Christ's message.
If you cannot accept the truth that the Bible gives, then I see no reason to continue this discussion.
Accept the truth.
Read the second chapter of the letter of James.
Once you realize the truth and convert to the true Church of Christ, please be sure to tell me.
If you never do accept the truth, I am sorry for you. I will continue to pray for you so that you may look forward to heaven.
The Scripture I quote is very relevant.
1) Eph 2: even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace have ye been saved, 6 and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus: 7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus: 8 for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not of works, that no man should glory. "
"even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace have ye been saved,"
Salvation occurs the moment a man believes and leaves the state of being dead through trespasses. Grace makes alive. Salvation thus does not wait for good works, but results in good works.
" for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory."
Which part of NOT do you fail to understand, Arch? The N the O or the T?
NOT OF WORKS.
1 JOHN 5
"For whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith. And who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?"
FAITH, we believe that, trust in the truth that Jesus is the Son of God (not the mere fact). If we depend on Christ (faith) we overcome the world; it does not wait for good works. In Rev 2-3 there are many outstanding promises given to the one who overcomes (the one who has faith in Christ).
1 PETER 1
"3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time"
The one who believes in Christ (trusts Him as Savior) has an incorruptible inheritance. We are guarded through FAITH (not works).
"for the showing, I say, of his righteousness at this present season: that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus. 27 Where then is the glorying? It is excluded. By what manner of law? of works? Nay: but by a law of faith. 28 We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yea, of Gentiles also: 30 if so be that God is one, and he shall justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith."
APART FROM THE WORKS OF THE LAW!
The text tells us that we are justified if we have faith. God cannot lie.
"3 For what saith the scripture? And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. 4 Now to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned as of grace, but as of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness. 6 Even as David also pronounceth blessing upon the man, unto whom God reckoneth righteousness apart from works, 7 saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, And whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom, the Lord will not reckon sin. 9 Is this blessing then pronounced upon the circumcision, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say, To Abraham his faith was reckoned for righteousness. "
TO HIM WHO DOES NOT WORK, BUT BELIEVES!
APART FROM WORKS!
"Being therefore justified by faith, let us have [/ we have] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ;"
JUSTIFIED [DECLARED RIGHTEOUS] BY FAITH
"the Gentiles, who followed not after righteousness, attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith: 31 but Israel, following after a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by works. They stumbled at the stone of stumbling; "
YOU STUMBLE IF U TRY WORKS
"16 yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed on Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 17 But if, while we sought to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, is Christ a minister of sin? God forbid. 18 For if I build up again those things which I destroyed, I prove myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died unto the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me. 21 I do not make void the grace of God: for if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nought. "
Arch, go you have a computer where you can bring up the verses on faith, believe, believing, belief, believed. If you bring them up you find so many times salvation promised for BELIEF (trust, faith) IN CHRIST & nothing else. If the Lord did not give salvation (new birth & eternal life to the one who relies on Christ as Savior, He would be a liar. But He is not.
WHOSOEVER BELIEVES (JOHN 3:16)
Believe on the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved.
Nothing is added.
To insist on works is to hold to the prideful idea that God will accept your works for salvation -- that is a misuse of "salvation"; that is validation, which you may not get. The pride of man rejects salvation by grace through faith, because that requires an admission of the extremity of our depravity, our inability & unwillingness to obey the Lord. We are wretches; all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. We must be saved by grace through faith or not at all.
Works must follow faith or the faith is shown not to be faith. But works do not save.
I have read James over & over since 1960.
James must be understood in correlation with the rest of the Bible. Faith without works is no faith at all.
I am a part of the Body of Christ because I have been baptized into it by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:13). I trust the Lord Jesus as my Savior; something you do not do. Your trust is towards your own works! Your own filthy rags. Let your sinful works go, Arch; rely wholly & completely on the Lord Jesus and His atonement to pay for your sins. Believe His promise; By grace through faith, not of works.
Whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved.
Take to the knees now, Arch: Call out! "Lord Jesus, save me; I do now trust you as my only & sufficient Savior. Forgive me for thinking I could save myself by my works. I trust in you & in your death on the cross to pay for my sins."