Archive for August, 2016
It is exceedingly strange that anyone claiming to be informed in the Word of God would deny that alien sinners are accountable to the law of Christ. However, there have been in the past and there presently are those who advocate this fatal error. In essence, those who advocate this view divide the Gospel into separate bodies of spiritual law, with one for aliens only and the other for the church only.
These verses on the interrelationship of faith and works at once comprise one of the best-known and most controversial sections of the epistle of James. The very way in which James approached this subject implies that it was also one of considerable controversy in the first century. Protestant denominationalism has largely ignored this section of Scripture because it is one of supreme embarrassment to it. To a great degree this predominant attitude may be traced to Martin Luther, the sixteenth century reformer. The story is rather well known that in his overreaction to the meritorious works taught by Roman Catholicism (in which he was once a principal), he misread Paul’s affirmations concerning salvation by faith in Romans as salvation by “faith alone.” Thus, when he came upon the passage before us that denied his “faith only” perversion and emphasized the proper role of the works of man in his salvation, he rejected the teaching of James as contradictory to that of Paul. In fact, he labeled the letter of James “a right strawy epistle,” and disavowed its equality with Paul’s letters (an apt demonstration of the power and danger of blind prejudice).
It has almost become a sin to mention sin. News and entertainment producers avoid it, and it would seem it is seldom uttered any more even in conversation. It was not always so. Our nation, rooted in Biblical concepts and terms, and continuing in such for almost two centuries, long had a sense of moral righteousness—and therefore of sin.
In his helpful, but obsolete book on the history of “Christian Colleges” (1836–1949), the late M. Norvel Young astutely observed:
Good, able, scholarly, sincere brethren through the years have held—and many presently hold—that the Holy Spirit “dwells” in the Christian only figuratively; that is, He does not actually and personally dwell in us, but only “representatively.” Most who thus believe hold that He indwells us only through the agency of His Word. There is little doubt that this view has become the prevailing one among faithful brethren over the past several decades. Those who subscribe to this view of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling generally attribute the meaning of the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38 to a gift which the Holy Spirit gives to Christians. Further, those who thus believe entertain varied opinions of that which constitutes this “gift.”
The New Testament describes only two cases of baptism in the Holy Spirit. The first occurrence involved Jesus’ promise to the apostles. Just before His ascension, the Lord told them to remain in Jerusalem where, said He, “…ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence” (Acts 1:4–5, 8; cf. Luke 24:49). He had earlier promised to send the Holy Spirit upon them, empowering them to reveal His will (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13).
From almost the first page of the Bible, and certainly to the last, God’s Word sets before us the necessity of obedience to God. This is so much so that we can say without fear of successful contradiction that the principal unrelenting theme of the Bible from beginning to end is that man must obey God or suffer dire consequences. At least some of these consequences relate to this life, but they especially relate to the life to come. Not only so, but God’s choicest blessings for this life and the world to come are promised only to the obedient. If we miss the teaching of the Bible on obedience to God, we will thereby not only miss its dominant thrust but will miss both the greatest life on earth and Heaven as well.