FAITH AND WORKS IN GOD’S PLAN OF SALVATION
I will begin this study by saying that I do not intend to offer every verse that is suggested by many to prove that at one time, man was saved by works alone or that he was saved by faith plus works. The reason for that is because, as I hope this study will prove, faith and works are inseparable in God’s plan of salvation throughout all ages and dispensations. The verses often quoted from the Old Testament and Gospels are God’s recorded emphasis on works in His plan of salvation, but it is only that, i.e. His recorded emphasis. Just as God’s love is not emphasized in the Old Testament, so too faith is not emphasized in the Old Testament. But it is incorrect, in my opinion, to say that because of a lack of recorded emphasis of God’s love in the Old Testament, God was not a loving God in Old Testament times. So too, it is equally incorrect, in my opinion, to conclude that because of the recorded emphasis on works in the Old Testament man was at one point, saved by works alone or faith plus works.
The following topics will be discussed in relation to the relationship of faith and works in God’s plan of salvation:
James Chapter Two
A Lesson From Hebrews 11
God’s Plan of Salvation in the Dispensation of the Mystery
The Distinction Between Dispensational Blessings and Salvation
JAMES CHAPTER TWO
I am convinced that one cannot fully understand the relationship of faith and works in regard to God’s plan of salvation without a careful consideration of James chapter two. As the reader will see as we continue in this study, James tells us of the connection between faith and works that is so profound as to suggest that faith does not exist without works, and works without faith have no place in God’s plan of salvation. And, as we shall see, Hebrews 11 gives us examples of that connection.
We read in James 2:21, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works……”. And in verse 24 we read, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only“. But in verse 23 we read, “and the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness….”. Abraham’s belief was, of course, his faith in God’s message to him concerning his seed (see Gen. 15:5-6). If we see faith and works in regard to God’s plan of salvation as one existing without the other, there is a contradiction in these verses. That is to say, if Abraham was justified by works, as we read in James 2:21 then his faith has no place in God’s plan of salvation. Conversely, if Abraham had been justified by faith, as we read in verse 23, then his works would have had no place in God’s plan of salvation. But if we see the inexorable connection of faith and works, i.e. they cannot be separated, it is all very clear. In point of fact verse 22 explains that very thing, “seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect“. The Greek word translated “perfect” means, according to the Appendix 125, in the Companion Bible “to make a full end, consummate”. In other words, James 2:22 tells us that Abraham’s faith was consummated, or completed by his works.
Lest I be misunderstood to say that salvation is by faith plus works, let me put my view in terms of Galatians five. We read in Gal. 5:16-24, “Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye could not do the things that you would. But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings and such like…. . But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If ye live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Please note that those in Christ have “crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts”. But let us say that a man claims to be a believer but continues all his life in the things of the flesh. In my opinion, that means that that man never received the Spirit which means that he was never saved, even though he claimed to be a believer.
My point is this: his lack of works that manifest the Spirit proves him to be an unbeliever. In other words, his faith was not completed by works. Faith without works is dead.*
A LESSON FROM HEBREWS 11
Hebrews 11 is often referred to as “the faith chapter” because it is a discussion of many of the great people of faith. There is also a very important lesson to be learned from this chapter in regards to God’s plan of salvation.
Let us begin our study of Heb. 11 with Abel. We read in Heb. 11:4, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead speaketh“. What does it mean that Abel speaks, even though he is dead? This question is answered by the context. That is to say, Abel’s actions tell those of us who are alive long after Abel’s death of God’s plan of salvation.
What is that plan of which Abel speaks even though dead? In order to answer that question let us consider another question, i.e. what does it mean that “by faith” Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain? Evidently, Abel believed something that Cain did not, and that belief influenced Abel to do something which Cain did not, i.e. Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice. But Abel would not have “obtained witness that he was righteous” if he had offered a better sacrifice without faith because “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:5). And Abel would not have been righteous if he had not acted in accordance with his faith. In short, faith and works are inseparable in God’s plan of salvation.
As we put this all together we see that this one verse explains God’s plan of salvation. That is to say, Abel speaking though dead, was an example of righteousness through faith that is consummated by works. Abel believed and did something based on that belief that testified of his faith. But if he had believed and not acted according to that belief, he would not have been righteous. Conversely, if Abel had acted but without faith, he would not have been righteous. Faith and works are inseparable in God’s plan of salvation.
The next two verses tell us of Enoch. We read in Heb. 11:5-6, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him”.
Note that the writer of Hebrews tells us that “by faith Enoch was translated”, but then we read that he was translated because Enoch pleased God. Enoch pleased God by how he lived his life, i.e. by works through faith. So here again we find the inseparable connection between faith and works.
Verse 7 reads, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith“. We read that like Enoch, Noah was made righteous by faith. But we also read that by faith Noah did something, i.e. he built the ark. Noah’s faith was made complete by what he did. He was made righteous by faith, but his faith is what led him to build the ark. Again, if Noah had believed God about the rains but not built the ark he would not have been declared righteous. And conversely, if Noah had built the ark but not because he believed the message, he would not have been declared righteous. Faith and works are inseparable in God’s plan of salvation.
Verses 8-9 tell us what Abraham did by faith. Abraham “went out, not knowing whither he went. He sojourned in the land of promise, as a stranger….”. He did these things by faith, but note that he did something, i.e. he did that which God led him to do. But again, he did these works “by faith” for without faith one cannot please God.
We learn in verse 11 of Sara’s faith, “Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful Who had promised”. It was Sara’s faith that gave her the strength to conceive. Given that all the other saints spoken of in this chapter did indeed do something to consummate their faith, I believe that Sara did also, but hers was of a more passive nature.
I will not belabor the point of the inseparableness of faith and works in God’s plan of salvation, but I will quote the passages that speak of some of the other saints that are spoken of in this “faith chapter”. As the reader will see, they all, every one, had faith and did something to complete that faith,
Verse 20, “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau…..”.
Verse 21, “by faith Jacob…..blessed the sons of Joseph….”.
Verse 22, “By faith Jospeh….. made mention of the departing of the children of Israel….”.
Verse 24, “By faith Moses….. refused to be called the son of Faro’s daughter”.
Verse 27, “By faith he forsook Egypt…..”.
Verse 29, “By faith they passed through the Red sea…..”.
Verse 30, “Through faith (i.e. the faith of Joshua) the walls of Jericho fell down….”.
Verse 31, “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not……when she had received the spies with peace”.
Please note that each of these saints demonstrated their faith by what they did. Faith and works are inseparable in God’s plan of salvation
GOD’S PLAN OF SALVATION IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE MYSTERY
As mentioned above, I believe that God’s plan of salvation is a universal truth, i.e. it is true for every dispensation. But some will say that in past dispensations one must complete his faith by his works, but in the dispensation of the mystery salvation is by faith without works. Philippians is a prison epistle and therefore is written to and for the church of the present dispensation. Let us consider Phil 2:12, “……work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. Does this mean that when you are saved you should show forth your salvation by your works, or does it mean that you should accomplish your own salvation? (It is understood, of course, that no one can accomplish his own salvation, but that the “accomplishment” is in completing one’s faith by works). Let us consider the next verse. “For it is God Which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure”. If this passage means that we should show forth our salvation by our works, why does Paul write that we should do so with “fear and trembling”?
To correctly understand Phil 2:12-13 we must understand how the Holy Spirit uses the Greek word “katergazomai” translated “work out” in verse 12. But before we study each occurrence of that word we need to understand the Greek word translated “worketh” in the phrase of verse 13, “God Which worketh in you”. That Greek word is “energeo”.
The Greek word “energeo” is used 21 times in the New Testament. The first two are found in Matt. 1:2 and Mark 6:14 where it is translated “shew forth”. Matt. 14:1-2 reads, “At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, and said unto his servants, ‘This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him'”. Mark 6:14 records the same conversation.
Let us consider a few other occurrences of the word where it is not translated “shew forth”. We read in I Cor. 12:6, “…..but it is the same God Which worketh all in all”. While it is true that “worketh” does tell us something of what God does, “energeo” tells us so much more, if we allow it to. That is to say, it tells us that God shews forth Who He is. Here again the context will help us to understand that Paul, in this context, wants us to know that God is shewn forth. We read in verses 4-5, “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit…. the same Lord”. In other words these miraculous gifts show forth the same Lord, the same Spirit, the same God.
We read in Eph. 1:20, “Which (God’s mighty power, vs.19) He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead….”. God’s mighty power was not merely “worked” in the resurrection of Christ, it was shown forth to be just that, i.e. His mighty power.
Let us also consider Eph. 2:2, “wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience”. When one understands that “energeo” means more than just “work”, but that it means “show forth”, this passage becomes more meaningful. That is to say, the spirit that works in the children of disobedience is shown forth to be the spirit of the prince of the power of the air.
My point is that in Phil. 2:13 where we read that God works (Gr. “energeo”) in us to will and to do His good pleasure, the Greek word “energeo” tells us that God does more than work in us. It tells us that God is shewing forth Himself, i.e. Who He is, through His children, as they both will and do of His good pleasure.
What is key to our question of the meaning of Phil. 2:12 is that if Paul had wanted to say that we should “shew forth” our own salvation, he would have used the same word he used in verse 13, i.e. “energeo”. But he did not, he used instead the word “katergazomai”.
We are now ready to begin our study of the Greek word “katergazomai” translated “work out” in verse 12. It is used 24 times in the New Testament. I beg the reader’s indulgence as we consider each occurrence of this word as it is key in understanding this verse and the place of works in salvation in the present dispensation.
As we begin this study I will remind the reader that we are trying to ascertain if this Greek word means that we are to show forth our salvation by our works, or if it means that we are to “accomplish” our own salvation. I will also remind the reader that James does tell us that Abraham, for example, was “justified by works” (James 2:21). That is to say, according to James, Abraham did accomplish his own salvation. We must bear in mind however, that works only complete one’s faith and obviously do not actually accomplish anyone’s salvation. Further, it is clear from Phil. 2:13 that as one completes his faith by works, it is only because it is “God Which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure”.
The Greek word “katergazomai” is translated seven different ways. That tells us that there are shades of meanings, but it also tells us that the basic meaning of the word may be difficult to grasp. In order to ascertain the basic meaning I will suggest one word which, although may not be correct English Grammar, and will not show the shades of meanings, it will help us to see how the Holy Spirit means for us to understand it’s basic meaning. That one word is “accomplish”. Let us see if this word will fit every occurrence. (The word in bold type is the word that is used in the KJV that translates “katergazomai”.)
Rom. 1:27, ” men with men working (accomplishing) that which is unseemly…….”.
Rom. 2:9, “Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth (accomplishes) evil…..”.
Rom. 4:15, “Because the law worketh (accomplishes) wrath…..”.
Rom. 5:3, “…..knowing that tribulation worketh (accomplishes) patience”.
Rom. 7:8, “But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought (accomplishes) in me all manner of concupiscence”.
Rom. 7:13, “….But sin, that it might appear sin working (accomplishes) death in me by that which is good….”.
Rom. 7:15, “…..for to will is present with me; but how to perform (accomplish) that which is good, I find not”.
Rom. 7:17, “Now then it is no more I that do (accomplish) it, but sin that dwelleth in me”.
Rom. 7:18, “…..but how to perform (accomplish) that which is good, I find not”.
Rom. 7:20, “….it is no more I that do (accomplish) it, but sin that dwelleth in me”.
Rom. 15:18, “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought (accomplished) by me……”.
I Cor. 5:3, “concerning him that hath so done (accomplished) this deed”.
II Cor. 4:17, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh (accomplishes) for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”.
II Cor. 5:5, “Now He That hath wrought (accomplished) us for the selfsame thing (i.e. resurrection) is God….”.
II Cor. 7:10, “For godly sorrow worketh (accomplishes) repentance to salvation….but the sorrow of the world worketh (accomplishes) death”.
II Cor. 7:11, “…..what carefulness it wrought (accomplished) in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves……in all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter”.
II Cor. 9:11, “Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth (is accomplished) through us, thanksgiving to God”.
II Cor. 12:12, “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought (accomplished) among you in all patience, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds”.
Eph. 6:13, “…. that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done (accomplished) all, to stand”.
Phil. 2:2, “…..work out (accomplish) your own salvation with fear and trembling”.
James 1:3, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh (accomplishes) patience”.
James 1:20, “For the wrath of man worketh (accomplishes) not the righteousness of God”.
I Peter 4:3, “For the time past of our life, may suffice us to have wrought (accomplished) the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts,…….”.
May I point out that the Greek word is never translated to include the word “out” except in Phil. 2:12.
Let me list what we have learned in this word study.
1) If Paul meant to say that we should show forth our salvation, he would have used the word which means “to show forth”, i.e. “energeo“. But he did not use that word.
2) The word “katergazomai” is never translated with the word “out”, except in Phil. 2:11.
3) As we have seen, every occurrence of the word “katergazomai” can be translated with the word “accomplish”.
The most logical conclusion is that Paul wrote in Phil. 2:12, “Accomplish your own salvation with fear and trembling”. But again, we know that we are saved by grace through faith and not by works. This is not a contradiction to that fact. This is the exact same principle that James spoke of when he wrote that “faith without works is dead”.
Another verse that tells us the place of works in God’s plan of salvation in the dispensation of the mystery is II Tim. 2:10 which reads, “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory”. Note the word “obtain”. Webster’s Dictionary defines “obtain” as, “to get hold of by effort“. Again, Paul is obviously not suggesting that salvation is by works, but I believe that God’s plan of salvation is a universal one, i.e. it is the same for all dispensations. Again, that plan is that one is saved by grace through faith, and that faith is completed by works.
Verses like Luke 1:6 have misled many to believe that in the previous dispensation, one was saved by obedience to the law of Moses, i.e. by works. Let us consider that verse, “And they (the parents of John the Baptist) were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless”. The key to a correct understanding of this verse lies in the correct understanding of the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words translated “righteous”.
What does it mean to be justified or to be made righteous? The only way to discover God’s definition is to look in His holy Word. But let us not make the mistake of starting our study with the New Testament. The New Testament did not come out of a vacuum. In order to understand the mind set of the New Testament writers we must understand justification/righteousness from the Old Testament.
We read in Romans 3:4, “….as it is written, ‘That Thou mightest be justified in Thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged'”. The Greek word translated “justified” in this verse is “dikaioo”. This verse is a quote of Ps. 51:4. The Holy Spirit then, gives us the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek word. The Hebrew word translated “justified” in Ps. 51:4 is “tzahdak“. By studying how the Holy Spirit uses that word we will be able to understand what God means when He writes that one is justified.
The first occurrence of “tzahdak” is found in Gen. 38:26 where it is translated “righteous”, “….she hath been more righteous than I because that I gave her not to Shelah my son”. Note the use of the phrase “more righteous”. Obviously, in this case righteousness can not refer to being saved from the grave. One is either saved by resurrection or not, there can be no degrees of salvation. In this case, “more righteous” refers to the fact that one was more correct in their dealing than another. Ezek. 16:52 and Job 32:2 also speaking of some being “more righteous”
Job 33:12 is another translation of the word that gives us its definition, “Behold, in this thou are not just, I (Elihu) will answer thee, that God is greater than man”. Here too, the word is used in the sense of being correct. That is to say, Elihu was telling Job that Job was incorrect in what he had said.
In chapter 40 of Job the Lord answered Job. In verse 8 the Lord said to Job, “Wilt thou also disannul My judgment? wilt thou condemn Me, that thou mayest be righteous?” Obviously, Job had not been implying that the Lord was not righteous in terms of sin. Here too, the word is used in the sense of “correct”.
Deut. 25:1 is also helpful, “If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked”. Man can not declare another man righteous in the sense of being sinless. Here too, the judges declare one person correct.
In my opinion, the God given definition of the the Hebrew word “tzahdak“, and therefore the Greek word “dikaioo” is “correct”. We are now ready to look at the New Testament meaning of justification..
The first occurrence of the Greek “dikaioo” is found in Matt. 11:19, “….Wisdom is justified of her children”. What does that mean? It means that those who are wise prove wisdom correct. The first occurrence of the Greek word gives us the very same meaning as the Hebrew word, i.e. “correct”.
Luke 10:29 is also helpful, “he (the lawyer-vs. 25) willing to justify himself, said…..”. This young lawyer in a discussion with Christ was trying to say that he was correct in what he had been saying.
So far we have learned that the basic meaning of the word translated “justified” is “correct/right”. How does this impact on what justification has to do with salvation? I believe Rom. 6:6-7 will give us the answer to this question, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin”. The word “freed” is the word used to translate the Greek word also translated “justified”. In other words, to be justified is to be seen by God to be freed from sin, i.e. as though we had never sinned and had always done what was correct and right.
There are three other Greek words translated “justified” and all have the same root. They are “dikaios”, dikaioseie” and “dikaiosis”. As one would expect, because they all have the same root, they all have much the same meaning. Let us consider each word and how it is used by the Holy Spirit.
“Dikaios” is used in Luke 23:50 where it is translated “just”. “And behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just“. This verse does not tell us that Joseph was saved, it tells us that he was a good man and that he was seen to have done the right and correct things in his life. I am not suggesting that Joseph was not saved, only that this verse does not tell us he was saved.
We read in Acts four of Peter preaching Christ to the rulers of Israel. In verse 18 we read that Peter was commanded of them to not preach Christ. Then in verse 19 we read, “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, ‘Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God judge ye”. In this verse the word is used in the sense of what is right. Paul uses the word in the same way in Eph. 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right“.
Consider also Phil. 1:7 where the word is translated “meet”, “Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all”. And in Phil. 4:8 we read, “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, ……think on these things”. See also Col. 4:1, Titus 1:8 and II Peter 1:13.
So where “dikaioo” has the basic meaning of “correct”, “dikaios” has the basic meaning of right in the sense of what is good.
One of the Greek words most often translated “righteous” is “dikaiosueie”. The first occurrence is found in Matt. 3:15, “to fulfill all righteousness“. This was the reason our Lord gave for His baptism, i.e. to do everything in the right way. Acts 10:35 uses the word in the same way, “But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him”. Again, the word is used in the sense of doing the right things.
How does this word figure into salvation from the grave? Once again our answer is found in Romans. We read in Romans 5:21, “that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life -by Jesus Christ our Lord”. In other words, by God’s grace, the believer is seen to have done all things right so that he might have eternal life through Christ.
The fourth word we will consider occurs only two times and I will therefore give each verse in which the word is used. “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). And we read in Rom. 5:18, “therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so-by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life”.
We have learned that to be justified or to be made righteous is to be seen by God as having done all things correctly, and all things right. In other words, as if one had not sinned. How does this impact on God’s plan of salvation in terms of faith and works? Let us use the parents of John the Baptist as an example. We read in Luke 1:6 that they were righteous, i.e. they had walked “in all the commandments”. But this verse does not tell us that they had faith. As we know, without faith they could not have been saved. The reader will recall that in the section above on Heb. 11 the saints spoken of in that chapter had believed, i.e. they had faith, and they also acted on that belief and were therefore counted as righteous. I am not suggesting that the parents of John the Baptist were not faithful, or were not saved, I am suggesting only that Luke 1:6 does not tell us that they were faithful and therefore saved, it tells us only that they were obedient to God’s law.*
THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN DISPENSATIONAL BLESSINGS AND SALVATION
Many believe that God’s plan of salvation is different in different dispensations. More specifically, they maintain that in the previous dispensation one was saved by faith plus works. I believe that God’s plans of salvation has always been the same. As we read in Hebrews chapter 11, each person discussed in that chapter believed (had faith in) the message God had given him or her, and believing, they acted on it.
Let us continue with a consideration of the old covenant which, many believe the obedience of which led to salvation from the grave.
We read in Lev. 26 of the blessings that God promised Israel if they obeyed His law and the punishments if they did not. It is a very long chapter and I will not quote it, but I urge the reader to read that chapter. As one reads Lev. 26 it is clear that the blessings enumerated therein do not include salvation from the grave, and the punishments do not include a denial of salvation from the grave. The blessings and punishments of Lev. 26 are all earthly and temporal in nature.
In short, there is a distinction between God’s dispensational plans and His plan of salvation. God’s dispensational plans change with a different dispensation, but His plan of salvation is a universal truth, it never changes. That plan that never changes is that one is saved when one believes the message that God has for him and acts on that message to complete his faith. The message that one must believe may change, as we see in the case of Abraham and Sarah, i.e. each believed a different message, but each acted on the belief of that message and were therefore counted as righteous.*
Let us look at Romans 4 to see if we find differing plans of salvation in different dispensations. Verse 1, “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? (2) If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about-but not before God. (3) What does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. (4) Now when a man works, his wages are not credited as a gift, but as an obligation. (5) However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. (6) David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: (7)‘Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” (Romans 4:1-7).
Paul is making the point in this passage that Abraham, who lived before the law was given, was saved by faith, just as David was, who lived after the law was given*. Paul’s point in this passage concerns faith in God’s plan of salvation and so he does not speak of works. But we read in Rom. 2:13, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified”. If we do not see faith and works inexorably connected in salvation, we have a contradiction between Rom. 4 and Romans 3.
*The bold type in the quotations were added.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org