"Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?"
Before we can go any further in this text I want to do a bit of review about, as the liturgy says, "those things which we most surely believe". Most of the Reformation traditions agree on five latin phrases as central expressions of the bedrock of our common faith. They are usually called the five "solas":
The understanding that the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments are "the only rule for life and faith" -- and that Scripture is its own interpreter and needs no external explanation from sources such as church councils, bishops, or the Pope.
That salvation is by faith alone and that no work done in the flesh by us can add to or help us merit the declaration by God that we are righteous.
Salvation is by grace alone and through no merit on the part of the believer. We are all worthless before God because of our sin. It is totally by his gift that any of us is saved and there is no requirement in the nature of man or of God that he choose to save any particular one of us.
Salvation is through (or by) Christ alone. There is no other mediator, either priest, Pope, or saint who has anything to do with our salvation (this doctrine was especially important in establishing the protestant teaching that rejects as heresy any cult of the worship of Mary).
Soli Deo gloria
The teaching that all glory is to be due to God alone, since salvation is accomplished solely through his will and action.
Okay. Everyone take a deep breath. As Lauren Bacall said in All About Eve (1950), "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night" for the five solas as we look at the core of James' teaching on faith and works.
Pastoral Relief and Retreat
- Wethersfield, CT, United States
- I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.