Saturday, May 03, 2008

Article - How Are We Justified by Works

How Are We Justified by Works?

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, 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: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. – James 2:21-24

The Bible speaks of Abraham being justified by his works. How can this be true when the Bible teaches that we are eternally saved by the grace of God? Could it be that the Bible speaks of other justifications besides eternal? It is my intent to explore the uses of the word justified in the New Testament and discover exactly how it is that there we are justified by our works.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines justification as the remission of sin and absolution from guilt and punishment, or an act of free grace by which God pardons the sinner and accepts him as righteous, on account of the atonement of Christ. This is indeed the case in Jesus Christ laying down his life on the cross for the sins of his people. The Apostle Paul writes of this in Romans 5:9. “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” We are saved from eternal damnation because of Jesus’ precious blood. It is just as if I’d never sinned because of his work of salvation. Thus we observe one important aspect of justification from the Bible.

We also experience justification in our own consciences. In Romans 5:1 Paul writes, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I believe this to be referencing justification in our own minds. Christians have a peace which passes all understanding when they are able to comprehend the work that Jesus accomplished on the cross. In the verses that follow Paul writes of rejoicing in hope, having patience and experience. This is a confidence in the Lord that resonates in the conscience of those who embrace the teachings of Jesus Christ. When we believe that Christ is who he says he is we enjoy a peace that compares to nothing in this world.

Finally, we observe that the Bible teaches justification in the sight of other people. This is how Abraham was justified by his works. In our opening verses James takes us back to the time when God instructed Abraham to offer his son Isaac upon the altar (Genesis 22). Although God’s request did not make sense to Abraham, he was faithful to obey all that God had commanded him to do on that occasion. Hebrews 11 provides some insight into what Abraham was thinking on this occasion. In verse 19 we read that Abraham’s faith was so strong that he knew that even if he sacrificed his son, God was able to raise him again. Abraham’s obedience was a tremendous example of showing faith by works. It was an example to those that knew Abraham thousands of years ago and it continues to be heralded as a pattern of faithfulness today. Abraham is justified in the sight of others because he showed his faith by his works. It is my prayer that we would follow his pattern and show the love and truth of Jesus Christ through our unwavering obedience in the word of God. When we do this, we are living testaments of a living faith and God is glorified!

Michael Green, Jr. is pastor of Palm Chapel Primitive Baptist Church ( in Crestview, FL. Palm Chapel meets every Sunday at 10:30am and Wednesday at 6:00pm. Pastor Green can be contacted at (850) 689-3383 or by email at Pastor Green warmly invites you to come and worship at Palm Chapel Primitive Baptist Church.

Article - The Simplicity of the Gospel

The Simplicity of the Gospel

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. –Ecclesiastes 12:13

It never ceases to amaze me the great lengths that men will go to muddy the waters of God’s word. A couple of years ago, many people were in a panic about the book, The Da Vinci Code. Were there additional accounts of the life of Jesus? Was Jesus really God? Was he married to Mary Magdalene? These questions were easily refuted from scripture and found to be totally false. To make a long story short, this story was proven to be a complete work of fiction. Yet many were influenced by this erroneous writing.

Today, many are stirred up about a book that Oprah is promoting called, The Power of Now. While I have not yet read the book, I have heard some of the hype about this so-called guide to happiness. The author promotes his book as a guide to spiritual enlightenment. It appears to teach a pathway of enlightenment by releasing oneself from their mind. Oprah has praised this book as an essential of spiritual teaching. I will reserve any commentary until I have read the book, but want to point it out as yet another example of many attempts to complicate the simplicity that is provided to God’s people through his word.

It will do us well to heed the teaching of one of the wisest men to ever live on the Earth. By the inspiration of God, Solomon writes that the whole duty of man is to fear God and keep his commandments. Any deviation from this pattern will only bring confusion and lead us astray from our service to God. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon writes of his involvement in numerous worldly pursuits. He states that all of this was vanity and vexation of spirit (2:11). This can also be said of the wisdom of men. It is vanity! The Apostle Peter writes that, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty (2 Peter 1:16).” From scripture we can easily conclude that happiness does not come through some journey of self-discovery and enlightenment. These are merely fables. It comes from obeying the word of God.

As Christians we must understand that the ideas and philosophies of men will always be flawed. Why is this so? It is because all men have a flawed, sinful nature. Paul writes that all men have sinned and come short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Carnal writings may contain some truth, but they are usually followed with a lot of error. The true pathway to happiness and contentment in this world is a life of obedience to Jesus Christ. There is no higher truth out there. God has given us his word. Peter writes that, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1:3-4).” Any philosophies and writings that deviate from the clear teachings of the bible will do nothing but confuse the little lambs of God. He has given us all things that pertain to life and Godliness.

When we follow the simple teachings of scripture, we will have a joy and peace that passes all understanding. In his dialogue with Thomas, Jesus says that, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh to the father, but by me (John 14:6). It is my prayer that God would bless us to see the simplicity of his truth.

Michael Green, Jr. is pastor of Palm Chapel Primitive Baptist Church ( in Crestview, FL. Palm Chapel meets every Sunday at 10:30am and Wednesday at 6:00pm. Pastor Green can be contacted at (850) 689-3383 or by email at Pastor Green warmly invites you to come and worship at Palm Chapel Primitive Baptist Church.