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Works vs Works of the Law

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Loyal
On one hand we have Paul telling us...

Rom 3:20; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

Rom 3:28; For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

Gal 2:16; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.

But on the other hand we have James telling us...

Jas 2:20; But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless
Jas 2:21; Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?

Jas 2:24; You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Jas 2:25; In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

At first glance it may seem that these are contradicting each other. But after a second glance I don't think so.
Paul adds three words that James doesn't add. What are those 3 words? Let's look at those verses again.

Rom 3:20; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
Rom 3:28; For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
Gal 2:16; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.

of .... the .... law. Are all works works of the law? No. Is there a commandment in the law that says thou shalt sacrifice your son? No. But Abraham was justified by attempting to do it.
Is there a commandment in the law that says thou shalt hide the spies of the enemy? No. But Rahab was justified by doing it.

If you think about it, this is really what Paul is saying in Ephesians.

Eph 2:8; For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
Eph 2:9; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Eph 2:10; For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

... not as a result of works (of the law).. for we are created in Jesus "for good works" which God prepared for
us in advance.. "so that we would walk in them". All works that God wants us to do are not necessarily works
of the law.

Matt 5:16; "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

1 Tim 2:9; Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,
1 Tim 2:10; but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.

1 Tim 6:17; Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.
1 Tim 6:18; Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,

God isn't against us doing "good works". Paul isn't saying we aren't saved by doing works.. "of the law".
 
Loyal
In the OT after the law was given to Moses, people were still expected to do more than simply obey the black and white letter of the law. Even if they could observe without exception every letter of those 613 rules laid down for them would it have been enough?

Remember that God has not changed. He has attempted to teach people what He is and what He wants from them from the beginning. Most of the natural children of Jacob who came out of Egypt did NOT make into the Promised Land. Would it follow that most of the natural people who have attended the churches called Christian will also miss out on the salvation for which Jesus paid the price?

"For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." Psalm 51:16-17

If we have busily in our minds or in our churches codified the NT into a set of black and white rules similar in structure to those given to Moses, would that alone change what God required of us?

What has happened and what is happening in our hearts and minds? God most certainly knows! Are we really paying attention to what He is still saying?
 
Active
Rom 3:20; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
Rom 3:28; For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

Justified = salvation. Able to live in God's presence.

In the OT we were justified by our works for Abrahams bosom over the not so nice half of Hades. Works include repentance as David did, even of his mortal sins. Many who transgressed the law of Moses and were punished by stoning do not automatically lose out on AB. It pleased God to show all how much he hated the sin. This does not mean He does not / did not notice a person who repented after the mortal sin, albeit they were stoned.

Even in the NT, it is by our works that God notices us for....salvation. Psalm 51:17, James 4:8, Rom 12:9, Matt 16:24.

Once we are saved it is because of our faith that we are justified. God given faith 1 Cor 12:3, Matt 16:16-17.

So, works are needed prior and then once saved, they are a sign to others that we are saved Matt 7:16.
 
Active
In the Old Testament times salvation was never by works. God saved his people from Egypt by his grace and later gave the law as a gift to help the Israelites live as a nation under his rule.

Jesus fullfilled and superceded the law, but that was not a transition from works to grace - more a fuller expression and revelation of gracious salvation.

Read Deuteronomy and the Psalms to see how old Testament grace is described.
 
Loyal
In the Old Testament times salvation was never by works. God saved his people from Egypt by his grace
You bring up a good point. Still, even though he saved them from Egypt "by grace", He didn't let them into the promised land "by grace".
 
Active
I'd put it a little differently: that generation forfeited the chance to enter the promised land by their stiff necked disobedience.

Some find the distinction between conditional and unconditional grace helpful.

To pick a parent-child analogues there are steps between unconditional grace and something earned.

  • I want to give you a treat, let's get ice cream!
  • When you have finished your homework we'll get ice cream
  • If you work hard at your school spelling test I'll treat you to some ice cream
  • If you wash my car I'll pay you with ice cream.
There are many of the first three kinds of transaction between God and his people in the Bible, - Old and New Testament - not much of the fourth.
 
Active
Salvation of all mankind is only by Jesus / the cross / washed in His blood / faith in Him from day 1 to end of millennium 1 Pet 1:20 when the devil is released for the last time on earth Rev 20:7.

However, salvation is God's doing not ours Eph 2:9. Ours is works Matt 16:24. Works from a genuine hatred of what is evil Rom 12:9.

David made many mistakes. He is a classic example. He repented and hated what he did. As did Paul Rom 7:15. It has been the same necessity for all mankind from day 1. The ''only'' difference living now / after Jesus / in the 'new' covenant, is that we can enter eternal life immediately. We qualify for heaven / God's presence. No need to go to Abrahams bosom or some other waiting place.

God is 100% impartial to all Acts 10:34. We do not have it any different or easier to anyone living before or after us.
 
Active
Rom 3:27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.
Rom 3:28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Faith has works connected to it as it takes "work" to believe. Jesus said......

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Having faith takes a lot of work because the unrenewed carnal mind resists to believe at every turn. The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness, neither can he know them for they spiritually understood. (1 Cor 2:14)
 
Active
1. In the Old Testament times salvation was never by works. 2. God saved his people from Egypt by his grace and 3. later gave the law as a gift to help the Israelites live as a nation under his rule.

4.Jesus fullfilled and superceded the law, but that was not a transition from works to grace - more a fuller expression and revelation of gracious salvation.
1. There was no salvation in the OT. 2. God did not save His people, He spared them / kept them surviving. 3. Agreed, the laws were given to the Jews to live under His rule.

4. I believe it is grace. We don't have to be mindful of finding / please God. This motivation is what prompts works though. If we are unsaved we need to do whatever it takes to find God. We would only do this if we actually cared about finding / pleasing God. God is waiting for the unsaved to do works James 4:8.
 
Active
I think I agree with KingJ, people get confused and think there was salvation in OT times well no actually it was the old convenant they didnt have Jesus, he was promised but he didnt come long until was it 400 years after the last captivity? The isrealites were chosen as a holy people and salvation came FROM them ie. line of Judah - jesus Messiah they werent saved in the way we christians know salvation. Cos we know whatever they did, trying to keep the law, many of them failed miserably at being holy!!

So when people say moses was saved, david was david was saved, job was saved, abraham, well no, they had FAITH but they did not literally have a redeemer in the flesh i.e Jesus the Messiah back then.

The old covenant operated differently from the new, which is sealed with Jesus blood. It is a better covenant.

The works of the law, starting with circumcision (which involves shedding blood, literally, a cut) and then all the sacrifices that you had to do, for sin, like all the bulls, turtledoves and pigeons no longer apply.
 
Active
1. There was no salvation in the OT. 2. God did not save His people, He spared them / kept them surviving. 3. Agreed, the laws were given to the Jews to live under His rule.

4. I believe it is grace. We don't have to be mindful of finding / please God. This motivation is what prompts works though. If we are unsaved we need to do whatever it takes to find God. We would only do this if we actually cared about finding / pleasing God. God is waiting for the unsaved to do works James 4:8.
Exodus 15.2

The Lord is my strength and defence. He has become my salvation
 
Active
OK. But how could the phrase washed in the blood of the lamb make any sense without the foundation of the Old Testament?
 
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