Justification - Whose Faith, Whose Works?

A statement was made that Abraham was blessed because of his obedience to Yahweh, and that we, today should do the same as Abraham.   Lets read a comment made to Isaac by Yahweh:

Gen 26:4   I will multiply your seed as the stars of the sky, and will give to your seed all these lands. In your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed, 26:5   because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws."

It was said that   "Individually we now have the responsibility to follow Abraham's example in all that we do before Yahweh".

What I just read started a discussion that I want to share with you that I think we need to understand. 

Do we have any choice as to the outcome of our lives as far as salvation is concerned? Are we individually responsible for our own faith toward Yahweh, or does he give us faith so we will turn out the way He wants us to turn out whether we like it or not?   Is our salvation by faith alone?   And last, but not least, once we have come to be in a condition of being saved, can we abort our salvation?

Several years ago a church group in Denton went through this discussion because one of the ministers changed his beliefs about the nature of the Law, and began preaching only salvation by faith alone, and "Once saved, always saved".   The church board unanimously agreed that he must stop preaching, and the church split and eventually died.   So, this is a subject that needs to be looked at so we will not fall into the same trap, and perhaps lead us down the wrong path. 

I think one of the keys to understanding this issue is to determine who starts this process.   When it comes to the individual, is it Yahweh that starts the ball rolling, or is it the individual?In scripture I think we can find examples of both, but there is strong support for the fact that the individual must first want to understand the truth about the knowledge of God.   I agree that it is not always that way.   Many of us look back at the past and ask "why me"?   Let's look at some of the arguments.   Here is what one person said about Abraham in Gen. 26:

"The credit never goes to "self," as no flesh can or will glory in God's sight. Abraham had nothing to glory about. The good that was done in him came from above.

So, why was Abraham blessed? Why did Abraham obey? Because God, by His Spirit, was doing something in Abraham's life, in his mind, and MADE him obey.

Do you think God does not have a way to MAKE one obey if it is His will/purpose that they obey Him?

Here is what is in store for you, me, all humanity...eventually all Israel...just like it was with Abraham:

"And I will put my spirit within you, and CAUSE you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." (Ezekiel 36:27)

There it is---CAUSE and effect! You may want to keep your "free choice, free moral agency," but God has other plans. He knows that without His Spirit, and the fullness of His fruits within us, that we will continue to sin, and NOT follow Abraham's example". End quote.

We know that everyone sins from time to time, and no doubt Abraham was no different than we are. 

Rom 3:23   Since all have sinned and continue to fall short of Yahweh's glory. 3:24   By his grace they are justified (which means SET RIGHT)   freely through the redemption that is in Yahshua Messiah.

Then the same person quotes:

Rom 8:29   For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 8:30   Whom he predestined, those he also called. Whom he called, those he also justified. Whom he justified (set right), those he also glorified.

My question would be, "is that all there is to it"?   I find: Mat 22:14   For many are called, but few chosen.   If that is the case, then he (Yahweh) did not justify (set right) nor glorify all that were called. Why not? Because of disobedience, and obedience is something that is of the individual's own free will.

You will notice that in every case where someone is trying to show "once saved, always saved", they almost exclusively quote from Paul's writings. They go so far as to place their misunderstanding of Paul above all the rest of the Bible including Messiah Yahshua.   The same can be said concerning the subject of the Law.

I agree that many of the saints are called out of the world in a special way for a special purpose such as Jeremiah.

Jer 1:5   Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.

The fact is Jeremiah responded to his calling.   Somehow, Yahweh has the ability to know something about an individual even before they are conceived, and Yahweh CAN give his spirit to whomever he pleases, but there is lots of evidence that he can also take it away if those He has called rebel against Him.

Once we have taken steps to obey Yahweh he gives us faith, which is added to our faith, and his spirit which is added to our spirit that work together to accomplish our Father's will.   This is an example of Him being the potter, and us the clay when these are in agreement.

Does Yahweh want us to be automatons, or does he want us to be free will beings that he can use in his service?

Eph 2:4   But Yahweh, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, 2:5   even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Messiah (by grace (favor) you have been saved), 2:6   and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Messiah Yahshua, 2:7   that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his favor in kindness toward us in Messiah Yahshua; 2:8   for by favor you have been saved through faith, and THAT not of yourselves; IT (the faith) is the gift of Yahweh,   not of works, that no one would boast.

What do you think of that? 

Most people that read the Bible would tell you that salvation is by faith only, and not any works are expected.   If faith is a gift, does that mean that we had nothing to do with it?   I think the faith we receive is in direct proportion to our works, and that without any works there will be no favor.   We take action, Yahweh takes action.   We obey, he favors by giving more faith, and the cycle continues.   Like I have said many times in the past, it is a matter of our attitude.   How we act to our fellow human beings, and more importantly how we think and act toward our Mighty One. 

Lets take a look at this:

Heb 6:4   For it is impossible to keep on restoring to repentance time and again people who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have become sharers of the Set Apart Spirit, 6:5   who have tasted the goodness of Yahweh's word and the powers of the coming age, 6:6   and who have fallen away, as long as they continue to crucify to themselves the Son of Yahweh and to expose him to public ridicule. 6:7   For when the ground soaks up rain that often falls on it and continues producing vegetation useful to those for whom it is cultivated, it receives a blessing from Yahweh. 6:8   However, if it continues to produce thorns and thistles, it is worthless and in danger of being cursed, and in the end will be burned.

While in the discussion having to do with the obedience of Abraham, it was asked, "How much obedience is required so that one may have the confidence that God will save them"?   How would you answer that question?

I think a proper answer is that we should obey as much as we possibly can with the information Yahweh has given us at the time.   We are continually learning and growing in our faith and knowledge.   The idea that we believers somehow "have it in the bag" concerning our salvation is dangerous.   There was a time in my church history when we used the term "God will work it out".   Actually Yahweh is waiting on us to see if we will work it out.   He wants to see what we are all about, and how we will handle situations.   Yahweh does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. 

Now, lets take a look at what James has to say:

Jam 2:17   Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. 2:18   Yes, a man will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 2:19   You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe, and shudder. 2:20   But do you want to know, vain man, that faith apart from works is dead? 2:21   Wasn't Abraham our father justified (set right) by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 2:22   You see that faith worked with his works, and by works faith was perfected; 2:23   and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness;" and he was called the friend of God. 2:24   You see then that by works, a man is justified (set right), and not only by faith. 2:25   In like manner wasn't Rahab the prostitute also justified (set right) by works, in that she received the messengers, and sent them out another way? 2:26   For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead.

Why is it that faith without works is a dead faith?   Because without works one will not be set right in the eyes of Yahweh! 

Lets go back and take another look at Romans 8:29 &30.   This verse is often quoted having to do with people being predestined with no choice of their own concerning their salvation. Many say that "God has willed them to salvation, and nothing will stand in the way".

Rom 8:29   For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 8:30   And those whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Some people were predestined to be called. I think we can all agree on that.   Many are called, few of them are chosen.   Matt 22:14. More on this verse in a minute.

Justification must occur before glorification, which is the resurrection of the firstborn from the dead, and I don't think Yahweh will justify us if we are in rebellion to his will.   It is those that have kept His word, and have overcome the world is the ones that are Justified.   Glorification is up to Yahweh, and not all of the ones that are called will be among those that will be glorified. Some are though, because they continued in the way of the truth.   Yahweh knew in advance that, with His spirit, some of those called will make it to glorification through both their faith, and Yahweh's added faith, obedience to Yahweh's Law, and also justification which is being SET RIGHT by Yahweh himself.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, (Joh 6:44)   This is another truth.   It is written that "many are called", and some things are obvious.   It is obvious that not everyone is called. It is also obvious that not everyone that is called is chosen. "Many are called (drawn), but few are chosen.

What is the lesson we can learn from what we have covered? 

First , salvation does not come by faith alone, as most of Christianity would like you to believe.   It looks like they can build a good case by quoting many of Paul's writings, but there is more to the story than a few of his verses pulled out of context in relation to the rest of the Bible.

Second , once one is in the condition of being saved, salvation involves these 4 steps:

1.   Yahweh's calling.   Yahweh predestined many to be called.

2.   Justification, or being SET RIGHT because of our obedience to Yahweh's law because: Rom 3:10   As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: The fact is, Yahweh will set us right if we are in a attitude of repentance and obedience, and not rebellion.

3.   Our faith, because without faith it is impossible to please Yahweh.

4.   Glorification is the result of Yahweh's favor.   These are the ones that will be in the first resurrection. Life eternal.

Third , salvation can be lost.   Yahweh will not do it to you for no reason.   As we have read before, Heb 6:4   For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 6:5   And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6:6   If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

To those that think their salvation is "in the bag", the Bible says that they can fall away and loose their life eternal.   Because of the concept of justification, or being SET RIGHT by Yahweh, along with our faith, we can have assurance that what Yahweh has promised he will indeed perform. The steps of predestination to glorification can be ours through the shed blood of our savior Yahshua Messiah. With this hope, we can look forward to life eternal just as He has life. What a glorious goal we have before us.

Heb 2:1   For this reason we must pay closer attention to the things we have heard, or we may drift away. 2:2   For if the message spoken by angels was reliable, and every violation and act of disobedience received its just punishment, 2:3   how will we escape if we neglect a salvation as great as this? It was first proclaimed by the Master himself, and then it was confirmed to us by those who heard him, 2:4   while Yahweh added his testimony through signs, wonders, various miracles, and gifts of the Set Apart Spirit distributed according to his will. 2:5   For he did not put the coming world we are talking about under the control of angels. 2:6   Instead, someone has declared somewhere, "What is man that you should remember him, or the son of man that you should care for him? 2:7   You made him a little lower than the angels, yet you crowned him with glory and honor 2:8   and put everything under his feet." Now when Yahweh put everything under him, he left nothing outside his control. However, at the present time we do not yet see everything put under him. 2:9   But we do see someone who was made a little lower than the angels. He is Yahshua, who is crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the favor of Yahweh he might experience death for everyone. 2:10   In bringing many children to glory, it was fitting that Yahweh, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering. 2:11   For both the one who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified all have the same Father. That is why Yahshua is not ashamed to call them brothers 2:12   when he says, "I will announce your name to my brothers. I will praise you within the congregation." 2:13   And again, "I will trust him." And again, "I am here with the children Yahweh has given me." 2:14   Therefore, since the children have flesh and blood, he himself also shared the same things, so that by his death he might destroy the one who has the power of death (that is, the devil) 2:15   and might free those who were slaves all their lives because they were terrified by death. 2:16   For it is clear that he did not come to help angels. No, he came to help Abraham's descendants. 2:17   Thus he had to become like his brothers in every way, so that he could be a merciful and faithful high priest in service to Yahweh and could atone for the people's sins. 2:18   Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Heb 3:1   Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, partners in the heavenly calling, keep your focus on Yahshua, the apostle and high priest of our confession.

 Bob Widmer