[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Friday, December 05, 2008

You need to add virtue to your faith








by Matthew

2 Peter 1:3
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;




James 2:14-20
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?

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

18 ¶ Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show 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?


A common interpretation of James 2:14-20 holds that James is distingushing between true and false faith. The argument goes that if one has true faith, then one will do works. It is impossible, on this view, to have faith without that faith resulting in works.

If that were so, we might ask why the apostle Peter needed to write the words:

add to your faith virtue


According to Strong's concordance, virtue is:

a virtuous course of thought, feeling and action
virtue, moral goodness
any particular moral excellence, as modesty, purity


Does that sound at all like something that might include works? I think so.

Yet faith does not come with virtue automatically; one must add virtue to one's faith. Otherwise, one's faith is dead. Without works, faith is useless in the Christian life.

Let's not have faith alone, but let us add virtue to our faith.

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19 Comments:

  • Excellent post, Matthew! Yes, we all need to devote ourselves to actually living out our faith.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, December 05, 2008 7:23:00 AM  

  • Thanks, Rose.

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Friday, December 05, 2008 7:24:00 AM  

  • Excellent point Matthew!!!!

    By Blogger alvin, at Friday, December 05, 2008 10:12:00 AM  

  • Thanks, Alvin.

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Friday, December 05, 2008 10:52:00 AM  

  • Hi Matthew,

    Are we to assume that we are not already kept in the love of God when the Bible exhorts us to do it ourselves? (Jude 1:21)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Saturday, December 06, 2008 10:08:00 AM  

  • What do you think 'being kept in the love of God means'?

    I would think that deals more with God's love towards us, rather than our own condition.

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Saturday, December 06, 2008 12:04:00 PM  

  • Matthew,

    Nothing can ever separate the Christian from the love of God(Romans 8:38-9) for Christ, having loved His own which were in the world, loved them unto the very end (John 13:1) So that is settled.

    Yet we have a call to action here - an imperative - that puts the emphasis on what we do. When Christ works in His people both to wil and to do of His good pleasure, part of this divine work in us is have us positively respond to commandments like these. IOW: God uses means to accompkish His will and these are part of those means.

    While a Christian will never be "out of" the love of God and become a child of wrath again, yet he may lose the comforts and assurance of God's love. Therefore, he ought to do all that he can as regards spiritual requirements to maintain those comforts. For a start, he can break off a love for the world which is incompatble with love for God (1 John 2:15)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Saturday, December 06, 2008 2:01:00 PM  

  • “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21)

    Jesus promised a rich relationship to the one who keeps His commandments, and so by doing the one shows his love for Jesus.

    These ones in James had God as their Father (1:17-18) Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, they had received the perfect gift that comes down from above. But yet they needed to be saved from themselves (James 1:21). They were showing partiality to the rich by giving them the better place to sit. We all need daily to be saved from ourselves it’s only as we lose our lives do we save our life. Anyone who says it’s just automatic, they are living in a fairy tale. And a believer can come under the wrath of God (Romans 1:18; 2:5) if he persist in walking in the flesh. Were only delivered from the flesh as we walk by the Spirit (Romans 8:1). There are born again believers who judge others and yet practice the same things. These ones James were talking to were looking down on the poor brother and by doing so they were no different then the rich man who oppressed them and would drag them into the courts (2:6). They were not fulfilling the royal law according to the Scriptures, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Therefore they were not loving Jesus by their life. If they were to keep going down this road they would fall under God’s temporal wrath and could end up losing their life (James 5:19,20). You have to be in the truth in order to wander from the truth. The ones that James is writing to we have every reason to believe they took heed to James’s warning and thus saved their lives from an early death.

    Just as Matthew has stated we all need to add virtue to our faith, it's not automatic!

    alvin



















    alvin

    By Blogger alvin, at Saturday, December 06, 2008 7:14:00 PM  

  • Colin, I can't see anything in your comment that I disagree with.

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Sunday, December 07, 2008 1:51:00 AM  

  • I think you have to see beyond the wraping paper to the REAL meaning which is Calvinism where your regenerated first so you WILL, will and do of God's good pleasure. Which is poison in the pot! I think it's not just what a person says but what he means by it. A Mormon can say things that sound true but it's only as you dig down to his REAL meaning do you find the poison!

    By Blogger alvin, at Sunday, December 07, 2008 7:29:00 AM  

  • Nice to find you so agreeable and charitable, Matthew.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Sunday, December 07, 2008 7:34:00 AM  

  • Alvin and Colin, do feel free to get into another week long debate.

    I am sure readers will learn a lot about your respective theologies.

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Sunday, December 07, 2008 8:38:00 AM  

  • Thank you, Matthew, but no thank you. Been there. Done that. Keep the T shirt.

    :0)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Sunday, December 07, 2008 8:49:00 AM  

  • Hello Matthew

    Not the most ideal place for me to add this comment/question but I can't think of anywhere else where it would be noticed.

    I haven't been blogging for a while but last week decided to start checking out a few blogs again. And it's through one blog I noticed (to put it lightly) a certain tension against GES/Hodges for their 'crossless gospel'.

    I've read enough of Hodges and Wilkin to know this is a misrepresentation of their views. I am more than satisfied to say that it is Christ's offer that is to be believed - only made possible through His death and resurrection, but the offer is nonetheless the focus for the potential believer.

    I am also more than satisfied to say that declaring our Lord's death and resurrection is beyond doubt the best way, and the biblical way to present that offer.

    However, something needs ironed out for me, and I'd appreciate your feedback. It relates to a hypothetical situation where one may believe the offer but not believe in Christ's suffering on the cross.

    In 1st Corinthians 1, when comparing the wisdom of God to the foolishness of unbelievers, Paul states "we preach Christ crucified". You'd agree that Paul included the cross in his gospel presentation? But when this message of the cross became "unto the Jews a stumblingblock and unto the Greeks foolishness" can it be said that by rejecting the message of the cross they were automatically rejecting the offer?

    Perhaps you can point me in the right direction as I've a lot of peoples' views to catch up on!

    God bless
    Trevor

    By Blogger Trevor, at Tuesday, December 09, 2008 2:39:00 PM  

  • Trevor,

    You asked Matthew, but I would like to take a stab at your question.

    For the apostles, John and Paul obviously included, the death of Christ was a central proclamation to the lost. They each fully expected their audiences to come to faith in Christ by way of the preaching of the cross.

    I think the point is almost moot. I would be surprised if anyone had ever believed in Christ for eternal life (after the Apostles started preaching the death and resurrection of Christ) without coming to find Him able, authorized, and willing to do so through being persuaded of Christ's death on their behalf. (Of course many did prior to the preaching of Christ's death and resurrection)

    But if anyone ever has, any hypothetical argument coming from a Traditionalist viewpoint is not sufficient to deny them salvation since verses like John 3:16 etc are very sweeping and universal.

    I hope that this helps you.

    grace and peace to you,

    Antonio da Rosa

    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, December 09, 2008 4:50:00 PM  

  • In 1st Corinthians 1, when comparing the wisdom of God to the foolishness of unbelievers, Paul states "we preach Christ crucified". You'd agree that Paul included the cross in his gospel presentation? But when this message of the cross became "unto the Jews a stumblingblock and unto the Greeks foolishness" can it be said that by rejecting the message of the cross they were automatically rejecting the offer?

    Trevor, I read your comment too hasty, and although I touched on something that needed to be stated, I am afraid that I didn't speak specifically to your question.

    The cross is the central tenet of Christianity itself. It is the basis for our great salvation and the focus of our Christian life. It is the foundation for the offer of everlasting life and the example for our daily walk.

    When the Apostles preached to the lost they often touched areas that go well beyond simple soteriological considerations. It was as if they are getting a head start on sanctification truth.

    Those who are soteriologically perishing in 1 Cor 1:18 have rejected the gospel message (which includes the message of the cross). Paul is stating that a person's reaction to the preaching of the cross separates the lost from the saved. However this does not establish the assessment of the traditionalist that "the message of the cross" is God-mandated required content to saving faith. If the message of the cross is the instrument being used to draw men to faith in Christ for eternal life, as seems to be the case (Jn 12:32), then to reject the message proclaimed by that instrument would necessarily entail the rejection of the objective message to which that instrumental message points. The objective message being pointed to is that you must believe in Christ for eternal life. (This paragraph has been reworked from a message post from Marty Cauley of Silva, N.C., as found in the public message boards of the Grace Evangelical Society).

    warmly,

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, December 09, 2008 4:55:00 PM  

  • You have been very helpful Antonio, so thank you.

    Because I haven't been blogging for quite a while this whole 'crossless' thing took me by surprise (by which I mean the attacks being made against GES etc).

    Your answer more than satisfies me, particularly the way you articulated the following:

    "the cross is the basis for our great salvation and the focus of our Christian life. It is the foundation for the offer of everlasting life and the example for our daily walk."

    Amen to that.

    God bless
    Trevor

    By Blogger Trevor, at Wednesday, December 10, 2008 12:13:00 AM  

  • Trevor,

    "In 1st Corinthians 1, when comparing the wisdom of God to the foolishness of unbelievers, Paul states "we preach Christ crucified". You'd agree that Paul included the cross in his gospel presentation? But when this message of the cross became "unto the Jews a stumblingblock and unto the Greeks foolishness" can it be said that by rejecting the message of the cross they were automatically rejecting the offer?"

    Theology is a web. One doctrine affects another.

    Also, our response to part of the truth affects our willingness to receive Christ. Hence, a person who denies the existence of God has completely shut herself off from the possiblity of receiving eternal life.

    A person who rejects the preaching of the cross is going to have a hard time believing in Christ for eternal life because:

    1) the role of the cross in human salvation theologically.
    2) Such a person is potentially hardening her heart.

    I do not say it is impossible for such a person to be born again while rejecting the preaching of the cross, but it is unlikely.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Wednesday, December 10, 2008 3:19:00 AM  

  • I would ask: Why are they rejecting the cross? I would think it’s because they don’t believe that Jesus is the Christ. But whether it is the cross or turning water into wine if it does not bring them to see Jesus as the Christ, then the sign has not served it’s purpose. What good is it if their sins have all been paid for if they don’t have eternal life? Only the one who is truly seeking God will find God. And once they have believed in Him as the Christ they have the Spirit of God to lead them into all truth. To say that the one who has found God would then reject Him seems to be a contradiction but isn’t that what Thomas did?
    Are these two different propositions? Believe in Jesus for eternal life? Believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins? Yes they are! Is one more difficult of a proposition to believe? Remember to believe is not a choice! When one is convinced something is true they have already believed. It seemed as though it was harder to convince Thomas of the resurrection then it was for him to believe in Jesus for eternal life. Thomas was born again so why was it so more difficult to convince him then the others that Jesus was alive from the dead? I would say that each individual is different, a child is easy to convince where as an adult can take more convincing to believe the same thing.
    Also that verse: For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jew a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness. 1 Cor 1:22-23
    They had different paradymn’s, the Jew had the Scriptures, and the Greek he was open to anything. I think this tells us we need to take into account where the person is coming from. Jesus met the women at the well at her need, water. Jesus met Nicodemus at his need, you must be born again! But I’m sure he believed he was already born into the right race as a son of God a good Jew.
    I believe the cross is the right context for the offer of eternal life to be given because it explains how God is able to make the offer without cost on our part. But, sometimes I present the cross later because I have NEVER ran across anyone who hasn’t heard about the cross. But most have NEVER heard about the water they can take freely, and then I explain why.
    Maybe I’ve made more questions then answers.
    It’s impossible for man but nothing is impossible for God.
    I think that’s a good place to end
    alvin

    By Blogger alvin, at Wednesday, December 10, 2008 5:06:00 PM  

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