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Works Without Faith Are Dead

Jas 2:14-26


There's a word in Jas 2:14-26 that creates a lot of confusion in the minds of inexperienced Christians. It's the word: justified.

In his own writings, Paul's use of the word *justification is usually confined to the realm of criminal justice; while James' use is in the realm of practical Christian living, and focused upon one's vindication of their claim to believe in a supreme being.

First                            

Jas 2:14 ...What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?

That kind of a faith won't save anybody at all because it's far too rudimentary. Let me explain.

Jas 2:19 …You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that— and shudder.

What we have here in Jas 2:14-26, is a person who believes in the existence of a supreme being— and that's it. Well, that's just not enough. I don't mean to be intolerant, but I'm afraid I simply have to insist that it's necessary to hear and believe the Bible's gospel narrative in order to be rescued from eternal suffering (Eph 1:13-14). Jesus didn't die and rise from the dead to redeem the Devil and the demons; nor are they confident that his crucifixion and resurrection will protect them from the wrath of God. You see, a person who's religion consists solely of a belief in the existence of a supreme being is really no better off in regards to salvation than the beings in the dark world.

Next        

Jas 2:15-16 …Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

Well… I would like to think that "one of you" wouldn't hesitate to care and provide for me when I'm down on my luck. But the theist, who's only religious belief is to believe in a supreme being, feels no obligation to care for his fellow man. On the other hand, I, a professing Christian, am urged by my savior, and by my apostolic mentors, to follow a different course of action. My religion is a religion for living— a religion that permeates my existence; gets down where the rubber meets the road, and into shoe leather, urging me to be a better employee, a better citizen, a better father and husband, and a better neighbor. In contrast; the theist's religion has very little, if any, life-changing influence upon either his conscience or his character.

Next      

James 2:17 ...In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Conversely, action, if not accompanied by faith, is just as dead as faith without action.

Heb 11:6 …Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists.

Note the words impossible, and must.

A tragic example of the converse of Jas 2:17 is Teresa of Calcutta (a.k.a. Kolkata). She was never really sure the Bible's God even existed, nor if one did, whether it liked her, nor if it approved of her work in India. In private letters, Teresa felt abandoned and longed for contact with God. According to Heb 11:6, none of her work in India pleased God simply because she didn't believe He exists; ergo: her works were dead; and she became a trophy of the Devil's grace.

2Cor 11:14-15 …Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

I've no doubt that Teresa herself was unaware of her ministry's service to the Devil's best interests. But five decades of feelings of abandonment should have tipped her off.

Matt 7:22-23 …Many will say to me in that day; Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them; I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

That passage doesn't target Atheists, nor Hindus, nor Muslims. No, it targets people professing to have done many wonderful works in Christ's name; viz: it targets Christians— and not just your average rank and file pew warmers, no, but rather, it targets outstanding Christians like Mother Teresa, Padre Pio, Jeanne Jugan, Jozef Damian de Veuster, archbishop Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, Francisco Coll y Guitart, Rafael Arnaiz Baron, Father Arcangelo Tadini, Sister Caterina Volpicelli, theologian Bernardo Tolomei, Gertrude Caterina Comensoli, Carmelite monk Nuno de Santa Maria Alvares Pereira, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Billy Graham, Luis Palau, and a host of Sunday school teachers, Pastors, Deacons and church elders— the cream of the crop; the celebrities of the Christian world; renowned for their accomplishments, their piety, their perseverance, their love, and their dedication.

Jas 2:18 ...But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

Sooner or later somebody is going to come along and challenge the theist with questions like: How can you say you believe in a supreme being and cheat on your taxes? How can you say you believe in a supreme being and abuse your wife and children? How can you say you believe in a supreme being and run red lights, jay walk, exceed speed limits, and cuss people in road rage? How can you say you believe in a supreme being and never contribute to your local relief shelters? How can you say you believe in a supreme being and accept too much change back from cashiers? How can you say you believe in a supreme being and eat so much food; and drink so much alcohol?

People would have a perfect right to ask the theist what justification he has, if any, to be going around saying he believes in the existence of a supreme being. The theist's lack of piety speaks so much louder than his words that people can't hear his profession. If you were hauled into court and accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Viz: can people tell you are a Christian without you having to tell them so? Does your lifestyle justify your claim? Well… James is going to show us a man who could easily justify a claim that he believed in the Bible's God.

Next             

Jas 2:20-24 ...You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is dead? Was not our ancestor Abraham innocent for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says; Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness; and he was called God's friend. You see that a person is right with God by what he does and not by faith alone.

James' letter was addressed to Jews— whom he called brothers —as evidenced by the salutation; "James, ...to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: consider it pure joy, my brothers," ..etc. Thus, when James says "our" ancestor Abraham, it's obvious the author was a Jew himself. So the epistle of James wasn't written to Gentiles; nor even written for their benefit; which should make a difference in how anyone interprets the letter's contents. So the "foolish man" of verse 20 is specifically a foolish Jew; not a foolish Gentile.

In the example, which came first, faith or righteous actions? Faith came first, and Abraham's righteous actions flowed from it. So then, although faith and righteous action worked together in Abraham's offering of Isaac, the act itself would have been a sin if Abraham hadn't already been a believer to begin with. The particular scripture that says; Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness" came way before that event up on Mt. Moriah (Gen 15:6). Offering Isaac years later in Gen 20 was a righteous act of obedience that quite naturally flowed from Abraham's long-running belief in God's promises concerning Isaac's future.

But supposing Abraham had put his foot down and refused to kill Isaac? Would he have gone to Hell? No, because the righteousness of Abraham's faith could not be invalidated by disobedience.

Rom 4:1-5 ...What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was pronounced righteous by works, he had something to boast about? but not before God. What does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who acquits the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

So then, bottom line is: faith is the deciding factor in one's salvation.

Eph 2:8-9 ...God rescued you by His kindness and generosity when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gratuity from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

FAQ: If faith is really all that matters in salvation, then why is Jesus going to condemn people to Hell in Matt 25:31-36 for their lack of charity?

If you will but keep in mind that righteous acts flow from righteous faith, your question will answer itself; however, it will also help if I explain a little something about Matt 25:31-46.

The event isn't synonymous with the Great White Throne of Rev 20:11-15; which takes place after the end of the cosmos. The judgment in Matthew will take place while the cosmos still exists, when Jesus returns in person to sit on David's throne in Jerusalem. At that time, the Tribulation will have just ended, and the survivors will be brought before him to evaluate their regard for Jesus' fellow Jewish countrymen during the Anti-Christ's administration: when there will occur Federally mandated anti-Semitism so severe in nature as to make all previous anti-Semitism look like high school detention in comparison. Jews won't even be allowed to go shopping for daily necessities unless they first submit to the mark of the beast, which of course is all the same as renouncing YHVH.

Remember how James said that Abraham's actions harmonized with his beliefs? Well... it is my own personal conviction, that anybody truly allied with David's son will not mistreat his fellow Jewish countrymen; viz: the goats are unbelievers; and according to Mark 16:15-16, unbelievers will be damned.

Matt 13:40-43 ...As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Next          

Jas 2:24 ...You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

A theistic Jew needs to consider what Mr. James said the next time they feel inclined to go around claiming to believe in YHVH. Does their lifestyle vindicate that claim? Can people see enough reality in their so-called *faith to justify even saying they believe in a God at all?

Next          

Jas 2:25 …In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?

Rahab lied through her teeth to protect Joshua's recon patrol; and thus saved not just her own life, but the lives of her relatives as well. She not only believed YHVH existed as a supreme being, but she believed more. She also believed He fully intended to destroy her town— and she believed He was well able to do so. Her faith was a living faith in that it motivated her to action; whereas theists are bombast; and little else. You can read Rahab's story at Joshua 2.

Last         

Jas 2:26 ...As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

The converse of that is just as true: As the body without the spirit is dead, so deeds without faith are dead.

That pretty much slams the ol' coffin lid shut on the theist's religion. His belief in a supreme being is totally intellectual and thus fails to effect any reform nor good in his life at all. His religion is demonic, his thinking is demonic, and he is going to a demon's fate.

Summary                    

Some religions attempt to use James 2:14-16 to prove it's necessary to work for salvation— that it's necessary not only to work for it, but also necessary to work to keep it; ergo: I think it would be very beneficial, in conclusion, to review the ABC's of the New Testament's plan of salvation.

So, let's turn the tables, and shift the spotlight from the theist over to professing Christians. Suppose a *Christian not only believes in a supreme being, but is also a conscientious humanitarian, with an active life of charity, righteous actions, and good deeds; and is, in all points, an exemplary Christian; viz: a veritable Mother Teresa. Will that person's faith save them? No, it won't; because that kind of faith fails to take into account the satisfaction of justice.

The human race is in a very bad way because the default condition of every human being who comes into this world is an already-damned status.

John 3:14-18 …And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole, so that everyone who believes in me will have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God.

(Please Click Here for an explanation of the bronze snake.)

There is a righteousness available from God to all, and upon all, who do absolutely no more than believe that Jesus' crucifixion is an adequate remedy for their already-damned status. The righteousness is so good, and Jesus' crucifixion so effective, that its beneficiaries are completely acquitted of any and all wrong-doing no matter how wicked, nor how good, they are in life.

Rom 3:21-28 …But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight— not by obeying The Law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God's sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins.

For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus. Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds. It is based on our faith.

I love that word acquittal. It means that I no longer have anything to fear from God in the way of being damned. Even if I now go off and do totally as I please, I have been accredited righteous in such a way as to never be in danger of divine retribution ever again because the righteousness that God gave me for trusting Jesus' crucifixion to protect me from the wrath of God wasn't earned by any personal actions and good works on my part; no, it was a gratuity, and is a righteousness so high in quality that it easily paved the way for me to have eternal life.

John 5:24 …I assure you, those who listen to my message and trust in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

Jesus' crucifixion transferred me from death to life. I have eternal life right now; no waiting period. I may not look like I have eternal life right now; but once this decrepit old Adamic body of mine breathes its last, I'm on my way to glory— not because of any good deeds and actions on my part, but simply because I am confident that Jesus' crucifixion remedied my already-condemned status, and paid for my acquittal.

1Cor 15:49-53 …Just as we are now like Adam, the man of the earth, so we will someday be like Christ, the man from heaven. What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These perishable bodies of ours are not able to live forever. But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed. It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, the Christians who have died will be raised with transformed bodies. And then we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die. For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die.

What's Next; After Acquittal?                     

Objection: I like the idea of an acquittal; but you don't know me. I'm just not cut out to be a Christian; nor do I feel comfortable mingling with church people. I can't be a Mr. Nice Guy. It's not my nature: I have a past; and who I am now is who I am.

Many of us come to Christ with baggage. Some are the products of child abuse. Some have gone through divorces. Others have been on the inside: felons and convicts— defensive, assertive, harder than flint, and only looking out for #1. Others are Marines, Black Bag, and Special Ops people. Some are politicians. Others are into hardcore porn, and possibly wife swapping. Some are prostitutes; both the male kind and the female kind. There's gays and lesbians, murderers, rapists, serial killers, pedophiles, terrorists, illegal aliens, tax cheats, car thieves, and neighbors from hell.

You don't just throw a switch and rid people of that kind of baggage overnight. So, don't worry about it. I fully understand your predicament; and don't expect you to make big changes any time soon. And in point of fact, you're at liberty to live out the remainder of your life any way you please with no risk whatsoever of endangering your eternal future because God reckons your dark side as already executed for its sins (Rom 6:3-11, Col 2:12-13, Col 3:3-4). And always keep in mind that although disobedience can invalidate the righteousness of works (Ezk 18:24) the righteousness of faith cannot be invalidated by disobedience (Rom 4:1-5). But I think there's something you really should consider.

Your relationship to God is different now. The day you believed that God offers people an acquittal for doing nothing more than counting on His son's crucified body as a ransom to rescue them from the wrath of God; you crossed over a line. Right then God transferred you out of death into life (John 5:24); and out of this world and into the next (Col 1:13). Plus; He adopted you as one of His own (Rom 8:15-16, Eph 1:3-5, Gal 4:4-7). Now you're stuck with God; and have a parent and guardian who cares; and wants only the best for you (John 14:18, Heb 13:5, 1Pet 5:7, 1John 3:1-3).

What I'm talking about here is providence. Providence is sort of like cholesterol: there's the good kind and there's the bad kind. If you want the good kind working to your best advantage while you're down here on the planet, then, unlike your acquittal; which cost you nothing; the good kind of providence has a price.

John 15:9-11 ...As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Sinners aren't acquitted and rescued from eternal suffering so they can go off and keep on doing whatever they want. No; the plan of salvation includes their adoption into God's home (Eph 1:4-5). They're in His world now; and after they're acquitted, and adopted; God's children are urged to begin pleasing their new father from now on, rather than continuing to please themselves (Rom 6:1-2, Rom 12:1-2, Eph 4:1, Eph 5:1) Please Click Here for suggestions.

Acquittal is only the doorway; the beginning of a new way of life. God has ambitions for His children. And He will accomplish those ambitions no matter how long it takes Him to do it. Here's the formula in a nutshell.

Eph 2:8-10 ...God spared you by His kindness when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gratuity from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

There's an old adage that goes something like this: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? (Duh. only fertilized eggs produce an embryo) My point is, there's an order to the plan of salvation. God starts off with acquittal and adoption; then, as any conscientious parent does with their kids, He works reform into the life of redemption's beneficiaries; by a firm hand and by timely discipline if necessary (Heb 12:3-13).

One final objection: Paul contradicts himself. In Rom 8:15, he tells Xtians that God didn't give them the spirit of a slave that they should fear; yet at Phil 2:12, he tells Xtians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling.

The phrase "fear and trembling" was a favorite colloquialism of Paul's and he used that phrase often. Here's another location in his writings.

1Cor 2:3-4 ...For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

His phrase "in fear, and in much trembling" doesn't mean he was actually shivering like a cur dog; but that his attitude was one of somebody who lacked a superiority complex. He was actually very courteous to the Corinthians, and made himself of no rank at all, even though he was one of the Lord's hand-picked apostles, and they were a bunch of pagan heathens at the time who deserved nothing but the cold shoulder.

2Cor 7:14-15 …I had boasted to [Titus] about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well. And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling.

Looks like Paul's attitude rubbed off on the Corinthians so that they in turn deferred to Paul's friend with courtesy and respect just as he had treated them all at one time.

Eph 6:5-8 …Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men,

Paul instructed Christian slaves to serve their masters, not out of fear of retribution, but out of devotion and worship, just as if their masters were Jesus himself— to serve their masters with pleasure and humility, not with dread and reluctance.

In Rom 8:15, Paul informed the Roman Christians that God didn't give them the nature of a slave in order to make them fear God like a slave fears its master; no, He gave them the nature of kin. Kin, as a rule, don't have to worry about their parents beating them bloody within an inch of their lives for disobedience. But slaves weren't kin. They were bought and sold at market like cattle; so slave masters could rip their backs open with a lash for disobedience. They could even be mutilated and executed. Thus, slaves were highly motivated.

Christians working for their salvation are doing it that way because they hope to some day be accepted into God's home. They don't serve God as kin obeying parents who love and care for them. No, those kinds of Christians fear retribution; they're afraid of the big OR ELSE. Well.. I'm sorry but that is the personality of a slave and/or hired help; and a far cry from the nature of kin in the home. The Father's children please Him not as slaves; but as contributing members of the family.

Work It Out                             

The Bible's plan of salvation is basically two distinct stages to restore Man to God: 1) redemption, and 2) sanctification. Redemption is the price paid to effect a ransom: paid to rescue sinners from the wrath of God. Sanctification is an on-going Divine program remodeling, and molding redeemed sinners into creatures with whom God is pleased to associate. So you could say that the plan of salvation is actually a salvage operation. Redemption is a one-time purchase. But sanctification is a process that just never seems to end because Man is pretty far off base, and a bit reluctant to yield to God's influences. However, God is God, and He will succeed.

Phil 1:6 ...And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.

We're going to harmonize the two passages below so that when we're done, there'll be no contradiction between them.

Eph 2:8-10 …God saved you by his kindness when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it's a gratuity from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Phil 2:12 ...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

The New Testament Greek word for "work out" is katergazomai (kat-er-gad'-zom-ahee); which means: to do work fully, i.e. accomplish; by implication, to finish, and/or fashion.

The application of katergazomai in Php 2:12 is not to work on your salvation in order to obtain it, but to work in it; like when mine owners work a mine. They already own the mine; but they will get little out of their investment unless they go down inside that mine with crews, equipment, and machinery; and dig. There are spiritual blessings to be had from one's salvation, but the redeemed have to go after them if they wish to obtain those blessings in this life. They already have salvation in the bag, it's a done deal; but that's only the beginning of a whole new way of life. For more on this Click Here

Catholicism's plan of salvation is essentially a merit system based upon performance; and one of its favorite passages to justify that system is Phil 2:12. Funny thing is: the guy who wrote Phil 2:12, is the very same guy who wrote Eph 2:8-10. Was Paul confused? Why did he clearly say salvation is a gratuity in one letter, and then seem to encourage putting out an effort to be saved in another letter?

This is really simple to explain; but not so simple to understand because not everyone's mind handles the concept of salvation in the same way.

I've heard it put like this: God doesn't rescue sinners from the wrath of God so's they can run off afterwards and keep on living in the way that He found them. No, He rescued them fully intending to remodel them: to make them reform and honor Him. Here it is in Bible-speak from those very same two locations just quoted above.

Eph 2:10 …For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Phil 2:13 …For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.

See what that's saying there? Does God expect sinners to honor Him first in order to be rescued from the wrath of God? Absolutely not!

Eph 2:8-10 …God saved you by his kindness when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it's a gratuity from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

John 3:14-19 …And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole, so that everyone who believes in me will have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God.

Rom 5:6-11 …When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God's sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God's judgment. For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God— all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.

Rom 3:21-28 …But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight— not by obeying The Law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God's sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins.

For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus. Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds. It is based on our faith.

God rescues sinners that are hopelessly stuck with retribution so that He can afterwards remodel them and turn them into something better; actually re-create them (John 3:3, Eph 2:10)— and afterwards quietly work within their hearts urging and assisting them to reform: not so they can be saved; but because that's what He saved them towards.

John 15:16 ...You didn't choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit

I often have to tell people that the epistles are intended only for an exclusive people group. Now you can see why. It's because the epistles are like telegrams from home; addressed to recipients who are already the Father's own little children— not to onlookers hoping to be saved —who are now supposed to be conscientiously working out, not the details of their salvation, but the new life as a result of their salvation.

Some religions— e.g. Catholicism —are somehow of the opinion that the sanctification stage of salvation is where candidates for salvation either sink or swim in regards to their future. But holy cow, that is really missing the purpose of sanctification. Salvation is fully paid for in the redemption stage; so if someone has passed that stage, they are no longer a candidate for salvation; no, they're in. The sanctification stage is where you go in for a make-over.

Most people are prone to estimate peoples' destiny by evaluating their piety. But that's a huge error. According to 1Cor 3:9-15, there are true Christian believers whose lives are producing absolutely nothing of which Jesus can either approve and reward; but they will still be saved because they are already saved.

And according to Gal 5:19-21 there are true Christian believers behaving no differently than people who are on their way to Hell; so to all appearances, they look like they're going to Hell, when in reality, they're not, because The Holy Bible's plan of salvation isn't a merit system, no, it's a gratuity.

(Hey, you tough guys on the inside with internet access; pay attention to what I'm saying here and take notice. Because if Heaven's a gratuity, then you have just as much chance of going there as any saint in the book. And don't worry about how you'll act when you get there. God's sanctification process will get you ready with a complete make-over: maybe not right at first, but it's guaranteed to happen sooner or later.)

Php 1:6 ...And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.

Working "for" one's salvation is redundant if Paul was convinced that God will continue His work till He finishes it Himself.

 

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