Friday, June 28, 2013

The Covenant Name of God: Jehovah or Yahweh?

The vowels of the Tetragrammaton, that is, Yehowah or Jehovah (Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 12:2; 26:4) are not a late addition, but represent the original and true pronunciation of the profoundly significant  Divine Name.  The commonly repeated modern idea that the pronunciation Jehovah is a late and incorrect invention, while Yahweh is the true pronunciation of the Name, is false. No known Hebrew manuscript on earth contains the vocalization Yahweh. On the other hand, the form Jehovah is found in a variety of locations in the oldest Hebrew copies, such as the Aleppo codex and a variety of Biblical fragments dated between 700 and 900, as well as being the universal pointing in the Old Testament Textus Receptus. Jewish scholars such as Maimonides (1138-1204) affirmed that the Tetragrammaton was pronounced according to its letters  as YeHoWaH. Were, as the common modern notion affirms, the vowels of the Divine Name simply lifted from Adonai, the yod of the Tetragram would have a hateph pathach underneath it, not a shewa.  Furthermore, all the names in Scripture that begin with portions of the Tetragrammaton possess the vowels of Jehovah, not of Yahweh. If one wanted to maintain that the vocalization of God’s Name had been corrupted in Scripture, contrary to His declarations that nothing of the kind would happen (Psalm 12:6-7; Matthew 5:18), one would also need to maintain that every name in the Bible that begins with part of the Tetragrammaton has also been corrupted.  Jehoadah would really be something like Yahwadah;  Jehoahaz would be Yahwahaz; Jehoash would be Yahwahash, and so on. Furthermore, no theophoric names anywhere in Scripture end with an eh, the expected ending were the Name pronounced Yahweh. Similarly, the word Hallelujah and the Greek Alleluia validate the ah at the end of the Divine Name. Furthermore, the Mishna states that the Name was pronounced as it was written, that is, as Jehovah. This pronunciation is also consistent with Talmudic evidence. The plain facts concerning what the vowels on the Name actually are in the Hebrew text, other theophoric names, the Mishna, and a variety of other evidences demonstrate that the Tetragrammaton is correctly pronounced Jehovah.

In contrast to the strong evidence in favor of the pronunciation Jehovah, very little favors the pronunciation Yahweh. Since this latter pronunciation is not favored by any evidence in the Hebrew of the Bible, nor in other ancient Jewish documents, its advocates must look outside of Scripture and Jewish texts for evidence in its favor. This they find in the late patristic writers Theodoret and Epiphanius, who give Iabe as the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, although the former distinguishes this vocalization as the pronunciation of the Samaritans. These statements constitute the most substantive and strongest argument in favor of the pronunciation Yahweh. Also, papyri involving pagan magic, and in which every possible and impossible designation of deities, Greek, Egyptian and Semitic, is found in profuse variety, contain invocations that sound like the word Yahweh. To use the speculations of two patristic writers—one of whom even specifies that Yahweh was a Samaritan pronunciation, and that the Jews used something else—to overthrow the vocalization of the Name in the OT Textus Receptus, Jehovah, is entirely unjustifiable. To use a name found in some pagan papyri that are invoking numberless idols and demons to reject Jehovah is even worse. The evidence for the pronunciation Yahweh is very poor, and totally insufficient to overthrow the powerful and numerous evidences in favor of the pronunciation Jehovah.

Thus, it is evident that Jehovah is the correct pronunciation of the Name of God. Jehovah has not allowed the pronunciation of His Name to be lost.

The error that Yahweh is the correct pronunciation of the Divine Name is connected to the error that only the consonants of the Hebrew text are inspired, while the vowels were invented by a class of Jewish scribes around the tenth century A. D.  On the contrary, Scripture and solid evidence demonstrates that the words of the Hebrew text—including the vowels—are inspired and were recorded by the Biblical authors.  Extensive evidence for the inspiration of the Hebrew vowels is provided in my essay “Evidences for the Inspiration of the Hebrew Vowel Points” in the Bibliology section of my website here. The evidence for the pronunciation Jehovah above is a summary of Appendix 1 of the same essay on my website, where extensive documentation and a more detailed discussion is provided.  The question is also discussed in lecture #1 of my class on Trinitarianism here. My essay "The Debate over the Inspiration of the Hebrew Vowel Points" should also be mentioned.

Furthermore, the fact that Jehovah is the correct pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton is one of a number of strong reasons to reject the critical Hebrew text (the Leningrad MS) underlying the generality of modern English Bible versions.  While the Old Testament Received Text that underlies the Authorized Version properly and fully vocalizes the Tetragrammaton, the Hebrew critical text corrupts the Divine Name by omitting one of its vowels in thousands of passages.  Other serious corruptions are also present in the Leningrad MS.

Finally, the King James Bible is found to be correct in its vocalization of the Divine Name as Jehovah, while it properly omits the modern fictitious pronunciation Yahweh.  God’s people should do the same, and call, not on Yahweh, but on the Triune Jehovah.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

John MacArthur's Strange Fire Conference

I want to commend John MacArthur on his repudiation of the Charismatic movement as a whole.  For awhile, his church has been advertising the Strange Fire Conference on October 16-18 of this year for the purpose of exposing the Charismatic movement.  I also believe that he is right in saying that a majority of the problems in churches today are related in some, close way to the Charismatic movement.  I wish that he would also repudiate the continuationism of John Piper and the Charismaticism of C. J. Mahaney, and to reject the Jesus' Movement of the 1960s as a counterfeit revival, but I rejoice in what can be rejoiced in here.  I'm writing something positive about him, especially since the movement is such a monster, and that he's making a gigantic effort to confront it.  I'm not encouraging anyone to attend his conference, because I can't fellowship with John MacArthur, but I support his church's idea.  Love rejoiceth in the truth.

History tells the story of Charismatic types of groups since the first century, but none so bad and widespread as the modern Charismatic movement.  Aspects of it have infiltrated almost every segment of professing Christianity.  The worst are found in the mainstream of the Charismatic movement, but I see the influence of Charismaticism everywhere, including in and perhaps especially in fundamentalism in the way of revivalism.

In one sense, the modern Charismatic movement came out of the Pentecostal movement, which originated out of and was predated by the Keswick or Higher Life movement.  All of this is about a second work of God in someone's life after salvation, sometimes referred to as a second blessing, the baptism of the Spirit, or the filling of the Spirit.  Among the Charismatics, the experience of a second blessing or the baptism was and is to be accompanied by signs and wonders.  The revivalists see the second blessing mainly in a unique dosage of God's power for the purposes of Christian living and evangelism success.   These movements are departures from historic Christianity on salvation and sanctification.

Various types of continuationism are rampant in fundamentalism and in independent Baptist churches, and they very often don't even know it.  They think God still speaks to them.  They might excuse carnality as a phase of the Christian life previous to a dynamic spiritual experience.  They use human means, either with a preaching voice or the rhythm and harmonies of their music, to impersonate or concoct the sense of a spiritual experience.  Some still pray for the outpouring of the Spirit.

An irony about MacArthur is the influence of the Charismatic movement on the worship experience of his own congregation.   A lot of the music there manufactures a kind of ecstatic experience, a sort of counterfeit spirituality, a type of music that originated out of the Higher Life movement and then exploded out of the Charismatic and Jesus movements.  People like having it and would be unhappy if they didn't get it, much like the reaction of Charismatics without their own experiences.  It is not sacred music.  It dovetails with the gratification of the flesh in all sorts of pop music today.  The false worship of this Charismatic music is a strange fire too.  It is an impostor spirituality that fools people about the reality of their spiritual condition.

If John MacArthur really wants to get serious about counterfeit Christianity that choreographs artificial spiritual experiences, much like Jonathan Edwards was warning in his Treatise on the Religious Affections, then judgment should start in his own house.  He should rid his church of its own new measures and earthly cleverness.  The bad is not justified by even much good.  In this case, if we want to get the beam out of someone else's eye, we should start with the mote in our own eye.

If the Charismatic movement truly is strange fire, then the source of the fire, the continuationism found with Piper and Mahaney should be blasted by MacArthur.  If he wanted people to stay away from the strange fire, he would attack it, douse it, at its root level and warn of those who promote it in the most fundamental way.  If the Charismatic worship is strange fire according to MacArthur, and Mahaney is a participant and Piper is at least a supporter, an advocate by his own testimony, why isn't he more clear about those two.  Can there be fence straddling on strange fire?  If you are going to use that term, and I agree with it, then really mean it.  It's either strange fire or not.  Nevertheless, I'm thankful for what disavowal we get of the Charismatic movement by the leading conservative evangelical in the world today.  I'm backing him on this.

Telling the truth about the Charismatics and their relatives is an important aspect to battling the movement.  Either separating from disobedient brethren or not fellowshiping with unbelievers is another teaching of the Bible about warring against it.  Charismatics should be separated from.  If you write a book or hold a conference, and you don't separate, you don't mark and avoid, then you are not doing what God said to do about it.  If not, then you too are playing with strange fire.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Debriefing the Les Ollila Interview

Les Ollila is the former president of Northland Baptist Bible College, now Northland International University.  When I was in high school, our family had Ollila in for a meal when he was in Watertown, WI to speak at the Wisconsin State Youth Conclave.  I think it may have been the first ever WSYC.  At that time, I think, Les Ollila was some type of "youth evangelist," who spoke all over the country in meetings.  He was a well-known fundamentalist leader and popular fundamentalist conference speaker.

NIU has made a massive change in leadership and direction in the last 5-10 years.  Ollila is not at Northland any more and he doesn't support its changes.  Recently, he was invited to Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis, IN, where Chuck Phelps is pastor, to speak at the Crossroads Conference.  There Ollila was given time in a brief Q & A to answer questions especially relating to what's happening in relationship to NIU.  That I know of, this is the first public revelation of where Ollila stood and stands on the NIU situation.

What makes Ollila endearing is that in many ways he's a sort of one-of-a-kind speaker or person in fundamentalism.  He's got a campy and out-there sense of humor.  He'll say things in a very unique way that often times covers for the poor content of what he says.  You're too busy thinking about his funny and forget that he just said something you don't agree with.  At one time in the Q and A, he sent everyone reeling with his in depth exegesis of Alf, illustrating something with the television show that I've never seen.  I think I remember the puppet-like figure Alf (sp?), which was enough to spur intense disinterest.  Ollila seemed to love Alf.  It was funny watching Dr. O go into a total Alf machination to make a point that was totally lost without Alf knowledge.

Since I'm on comedy, another funny moment was the outburst of Ollila about bloggers.  Get a life!  I don't know who the people are who he's talking about. I've not read a blog post critical of Ollila.  He doesn't blog.  The technology is past a lot of guys his age, no disrespect.  Phelps started to cry on this point, wiping his eyes with a handkerchief.  That didn't connect with me like it did Phelps.  I had no unction to well up with tears, so it got me thinking about how much blogging there has been about Phelps and how that connected with him emotionally.  I'm sure he wished blogging didn't exist as it related to the Tina Anderson issue back in his Trinity days, so he had true empathy with Ollila's feelings about blogging.

Ollila did not take questions from the crowd and there was little to no follow-up to the questions he answered from Chuck Phelps.  Phelps appeared to have his own questions and some with him from the audience.  All the interaction was with Phelps.  It's obvious that Ollila doesn't like what's going on at Northland.  My overall analysis of the Q & A is that it seemed to be an opportunity for Ollila to reestablish his fundamentalist credentials and to reconnect with the mainstream of the FBFI branch of fundamentalism.  He'll need it for his future parachurch endeavor, as he hooks himself up to another ox-cart in fundamentalism.  At the same time, Ollila was able to and will be able to remain a kind of hero among young fundamentalists with so much of what he said and how he said it.

Important aspects of what Ollila said did not jive with what I thought fundamentalists believed.   Where he clashed with typical fundamentalism, he used humor to deflect.  Phelps could have easily cleared all that up, but he just let it go.  I can't imagine that Phelps agreed with Ollila, but perhaps he didn't want to embarrass him in public.  Even though Ollila detached himself from NIU, I don't see how he's much different in principle.  His answers bothered me and they should be a problem for fundamentalism.  However, I would think that most young fundamentalists would have liked what he had to say.

In no particular order, first, Ollila said that CCM wasn't a sin -- it just wasn't wise.  That's a hard one to work through, but that does almost nothing to eliminate CCM.   It's either false worship or it isn't.  If it is false worship, it is sin.  If it isn't false worship, then it is acceptable.  Ollila didn't explain how it was unwise, and Phelps didn't follow up at all.  I would have asked, "Is CCM fleshly or worldly lust?  If so, then it is sin, isn't it?"  Or, "How is it unwise?  What do you mean by that?"  Ollila gave a big permission for CCM in fundamentalism with his statement on CCM.  That Phelps didn't disagree showed Phelps to either agree with him or to indicate that it is a liberty issue in fundamentalism.  You are free to use CCM fundamentalism, because it isn't a sin.  I think this is where fundamentalism is at now.

Second, Ollila talked about his visit to John MacArthur.  I don't think there is any problem with someone visiting with John MacArthur.  Ollila was checking him out.  It's his conclusion that was a problem.  Right there in a fundamentalist meeting, Ollila gave a complete endorsement to MacArthur with zero disclaimer and he was not challenged at all by Phelps.  Lots of cheering had to be going on from conservative evangelicals and young fundamentalists.  Phelps asked Ollila, "Are you a separatist?" Ollila:  "Yes."  Phelps:  "Are you a fundamentalist?"  Ollila:  "Yes."  So there we go.  Penetrating, probing analysis complete.

Ollila's defense of MacArthur was three-fold as I heard it.  I could defend MacArthur too, because there is a lot I like about him.  But that's not the point here -- it isn't what we're talking about.  Ollila defended MacArthur with moral equivalency.  Ollila wasn't going to the Hyles pastors' conference.  What?  That came out of left field, but it seemed to be a shot at those who have appeared with Jack Schaap at various functions, including the president of the FBFI.  Ollila has a point to be made there, a legitimate one, but it doesn't stand as a defense of fellowship with MacArthur.   At most, it scares away criticism, because it says that you can't criticize me for MacArthur because others did worse with Schaap.  Tit for tat politics.  It should have been argued by Phelps, but he just laughed it off.

The next part of his defense was that MacArthur's music, the one day Ollila was there, was better than a BJU vespers.   Who knows if that's true or not, but we know that on other days that Ollila was and is not there in Southern California, MacArthur uses rock music.  That's not hard to find out if you're just the slightest bit curious.  I guess one day is enough to evaluate all of MacArthur's music for anyone, according to Ollila.

Lastly, he said that MacArthur preached a true gospel, and although MacArthur might be Calvinist, Ollila himself isn't one.  This was again fundamentalism being reduced to a defense of a true gospel alone, gospel centered fundamentalism.  Is that truly all that fundamentalism is?  Because if not, someone should step up, but Phelps does not.  Crickets.

Although Ollila really didn't clear up the music issue, this was not and is not the main problem with MacArthur for fundamentalists.  MacArthur is the most conservative, conservative evangelical, but he does not practice separation like a fundamentalist.  If that were the case, then fundamentalists would be having MacArthur in to preach for them.  He fellowships with Southern Baptists.  He fellowships with Charismatics.  That has been a no-no for fundamentalists.  Ollila left that out of his evaluation, maybe because he is a simpleton, like he referred to himself.  If you are simpleton, you get a pass.  You get to preach at the conference, but you are excused for everything else because simpletons can pull the simpleton card.  It's a sympathy card, very convenient.

Why Ollila left NIU was because of pragmatism.  He's death on pragmatism.  I'd be happy to believe that.  I would call Ollila selectively death on pragmatism.  Why?  He's so pragmatic.  He signed on to the name change of NIU.  He defended it.  Why?  It was pragmatic.  It all depends on what kind of pragmatism you're talking about.   He blamed the changes on the PR guys that Olson brought in.  Olson brought them in, but it was the PR guys' fault.  Why?  He knows Olson's heart.  I know Northland had the heart conference, and I never attended it, but I hope that wasn't the essence of it.  As long as your heart is in the right place, you really, really are sincere and want it all to be good in your heart, then you're fine.  What you actually do, like hiring the PR guys that cause the demise and fall, that is excused by your "heart."  This kind of goopy sentimentalism is a big issue in fundamentalism.

It might not be the worst, but the worst part of the interview of Ollila to me was Ollila's explanation of the superiority of being a moderate.  You aren't in the right ditch.  You aren't in the left ditch.  The Bible teaches balance (where?) and you stay away from the right wingers and the left wingers and keep right down the middle.  That's the explanation of fundamentalist unity, I believe.  You can unpragmatically (of course) take the right course by lopping off the extremists on either side.  Who are the right wingers?  They're probably the ones who take strong positions on cultural issues.  Who are the left wingers?  Those are the almost-anything-goes guys.  Suddenly Northland was considered right ditch as it stayed in the middle of the road.  What to do?  When you are a parachurch organization, looking to keep your enrollment up, you've got to find that sweet spot.  Northland had it when Ollila was there.  Success is found in finding the middle of the road, bridging the gap between both sides.  That's not how I read it in the Bible, but this is a generally acceptable idea for fundamentalism.   It's not  the model for a church with the Bible as sole authority.

More could be said, but the Ollila Q & A was very informative and educational.  It doesn't speak well for the future of fundamentalism.

Friday, June 21, 2013

“The just shall live by faith”— A Study of the Relationship of Faith to Salvation in its Justifying, Sanctifying, and Glorifying Fulness, part 16

In the book of Galatians, Paul quotes Genesis 15:6 and Habakkuk 2:4 to establish the fundamental soteriological doctrine of justification before God by faith alone.  Genesis 15:6 is quoted in Galatians 3:6, while Habakkuk 2:4 is quoted in Galatians 3:11.  Galatians 3:1-4:11 provides arguments in favor of the propositions Paul stated in Galatians 2:15-21.  Galatians 3:1-18 proves that righteousness is received apart from the law.  Within 3:1-18, 3:6-14 provides arguments from the Old Testament establishing the truth of justification by faith apart from the law.[i]  Paul points out, first of all, that the truth that one is justified in the sight of God apart from the law (2:16) is established because Abraham was accounted righteous, receiving the imputed righteousness of the Messiah, through the sole instrumentality of faith (3:6).[ii]  Consequently, believers, “they which are of faith,” rather than law-keepers, “are the children of Abraham” spiritually (3:7).  Those who believe as Abraham did become the recipients of the redemptive blessings associated with the patriarch.  Indeed, the Old Testament had forseen that God would justify Gentiles, non-lawkeepers, through faith, for God had promised Abraham all nations, not lawkeeping Jews only, blessing through his Seed, the Messiah.[iii]  Consequently, all those who are of faith receive the Abrahamic blessing (3:9).  Indeed, none of the sons of Adam can receive salvation through obedience to the law, for the legal standard is continual, perfect, sinless obedience, but all have sinned and deserve God’s curse.[iv]  Furthermore, the explicit testimony that “the just shall live by faith”[v] elminates the possibility that life comes from the law, for the just are all those who are justified by faith (3:11).[vi]  The law sets a different and contrary standard—life for sinless obedience.[vii]  Christ took the curse of the law upon Himself on the cross so that the Gentiles could be accepted by God and receive salvation in all its aspects, inclusive of both justification and the promise of the Spirit, through faith.[viii]

Paul’s use of Genesis 15:6 and Habakkuk 2:4 in Galatians 3 emphasize the receipt of justification through faith alone rather than the faithfulness and holiness that are the fruit of justifying faith.  As the Apostle demonstrates, the Old Testament is clear—righteousness before God is the possession of all those who believe, rather than a possession of those who merit salvation by works.  However, the faithfulness that is the fruit of the union with Christ entered into at the moment of justification is by no means excluded in Galatians.  The promised Spirit, who sinners receive through faith alone at the moment of their justification (3:14), will produce His fruit (5:16-26; 4:6) in those who have received Him.  Those justified by faith alone will be led by the Spirit (5:18) into a walk of holiness that is characterized by love, joy, peace, longsuffering, and other holy Spirit-produced acts, rather than the fleshly works that characterize those who will not enter the kingdom but suffer damnation (5:19-23).  Faith will work by love (5:6).  Indeed, the entire Christian life is lived by faith in the Son of God (2:20; cf. 5:5).  The Christian dispensation itself is the coming of faith (3:23, 25).  Justification by faith alone (2:16, 21) does not lead to a life of sin, because the believer is legally dead to the law, crucified with Christ, and alive to God (2:17-20). As is clear in Genesis and Habakkuk,  Galatians affirms the twin truths that justification in the sight of God is by grace through faith alone, based on the imputed righteousness of Christ alone, and that faithfulness and holiness are the inevitable consequents springing from true faith.  The just shall live by faith, as Abraham did.

This post is part of the complete study here.


[i] Compare the outline in Galatians, Richard N. Longenecker, vol. 41 in the Word Biblical Commentary.

[ii] Note the further discussion below in the analysis of the quotations of Genesis 15:6 and Habakkuk 2:4 as found in the book of Romans.  In Galatians 3, the quotation from Genesis 15:6 is central to the entire passage.

[iii] Galatians 3:8; Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4 28:14.  The proeuaggeli÷zomai of Galatians 3:8 specifies that the gospel was preached beforehand to Abraham, not only in the proclamation of the Messiah, but also in the declaration of the doctrine of righteousness by faith.

[iv] Galatians 3:10; Deuteronomy 27:26.

[v] A comparison of Galatians 3:11 and 12 indicates that Paul interpreted Habakkuk 2:4 in accordance with its meaning in its original context, that is, as “the righteous shall live by faith” rather than as “he who through faith is righteous shall live” (for a comparison of the writers who take the one or the other position, see, e. g., pgs. 33-35, “‘The Righteous Shall Live by Faith’—A Decisive Argument for the Traditional Interpretation,” H C. C. Cavallin.  Studia Theologica 32 (1978) 33-43).  The sense of live in both oJ di÷kaioß e˙k pi÷stewß zh/setai and in oJ poih/saß aujta» a‡nqrwpoß zh/setai e˙n aujtoi√ß is parallel.  In Galatians 3:12 and Leviticus 18:5 (M¡RhD;b y∞AjÎw Mä∂dDaDh M¢DtOa h¶RcSoÅy) the prepositional phrase cannot be construed with the subject, but must be taken to modify the verb.  Consequently, in both 3:11 and 3:1 the prepositional phrases (e˙k pi÷stewß/e˙n aujtoi√ß), not the subjects (oJ di÷kaioß/oJ poih/saß aujta» a‡nqrwpoß), modify the verb zh/setai in their respective clauses, even as in Galatians 3:11a the prepositional phrase e˙n no/mwˆ modifies the verb dikaiouvtai, paralleling the modification of zh/setai by e˙k pi÷stewß in 3:11b. Since both spiritual life on earth and eschatological eternal life are included in the quotation in Galatians from Leviticus 18:5 (parallel texts such as Deuteronomy 5:33 validate the fact that “life” with the smile and blessing of God now is included in Leviticus 18:5, but eschatological life is by no means excluded;  see the interpretation of the Leviticus text as a reference to “eternal life” in the Targum Onkelos & Psuedo-Jonathan—note furthermore that Paul’s quotation of Leviticus 18:5 in Romans 10:5, where a contrast with the promise of Habakkuk 2:4 as found in Romans 1:16-17, likewise includes both justification, spiritual life on earth, and eschatological salvation—the same kinds of life are contrasted in Romans 1:16-17; 10:5, as they are in Galatians 3:11-12), both are included also in Paul’s view of the life promised in Habakkuk 2:4, rather than justification at the moment of conversion alone.  Of course, Paul’s recognition that Habakkuk 2:4 promises both spiritual and eschatological life to faith includes as its good and necessary consequence that one is justified by faith as well as living the continuing Christian pilgrimage by faith.  In Galatians 3:11, Romans 1:17, and Hebrews 10:38 Paul employs the quotation of Habakkuk 2:4 properly in its original context as a reference to the receipt of the blessing of spiritual life, including justification, sanctification, and glorification, through the instrumentality of faith, emphasizing one or the other facet of the life received in his various references to Habakkuk.

While a real offer of life to sinless perfection and perfect obedience to the law is made in Galatians 3:12; Romans 10:5; Leviticus 18:5 (cf. Deuteronomy 4:1ff., 30:16-20; Romans 7:10; contrast Romans 10:4-11; Habakkuk 2:4; Isaiah 55:1-3, etc.) the promise cannot be received by any of the fallen sons of Adam because of their sin (Galatians 3:10).  The law itself is not imperfect, and it gives instructions for perfect righteousness, but only the virgin-born Messiah has ever perfectly fulfilled its holy requirements (cf. Galatians 3:21).  Therefore, spiritual inheritance can actually be received by sinners only through the free promise of grace through faith—a way not anulled by the law, but which actually preceded the law—and, in any case, God knew that sinners could not perfectly keep His law, and did not give it to them for the purpose of them receiving salvation by obedience to it (3:15-22).  These facts explain why the method of justification set forth by the law is one foreign to faith (3:12a).

[vi] That is, Galatians 3:11 identifies the “just” and the “justified”: o¢ti de« e˙n no/mwˆ oujdei«ß dikaiouvtai para» twˆ◊ Qewˆ◊, dhvlon: o¢ti ÔO di÷kaioß e˙k pi÷stewß zh/setai.  All believers are the just who live by faith.

[vii] Galatians 3:12; Leviticus 18:5; Nehemiah 9:29; Ezekiel 20:11, 13.  Paul sets Galatians 3:10 and 3:12 in sharp contrast to 3:11—law and curse are set against faith and righteousness.  Indeed, 3:10-12 are Paul’s proofs from the propositional statements of the Old Testament that his affirmations in 2:16, 21 are true, and validations of his affirmations about the experience of the Galatians (3:1-5) and of Abraham (3:6-9).

[viii] Galatians 3:13-14; Deuteronomy 21:23.  Note that the reference to the Spirit in v. 14 ties back to 3:2-5, where not only conversion, but also the continuation of the Christian life, is under discussion.  The promise of the Spirit is a promise that includes the progressive sanctification of all believers.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Bible Teaches Permanent Justification, Eternal Security, Unconditional Security, and Once Saved, Always Saved

Several years ago, I read through my entire Bible on the side in addition to everything else I do and with the sole purpose of looking for everything it said about the security of salvation.  I read a few books on it.  I read the criticism of that doctrine.  I prepared hundreds of powerpoint slides with what I thought were every possible argument against and for eternal security.  Then I debated 5 straight nights, 3 hours each, against the best debater in the country for the Church of Christ.  He had the opportunity to poke holes in everything that I had prepared.  I have started to write a book on it, but I've just had too many other things going.  After saying all that, I've got some critics who think I write those kind of things to exalt myself.  I write it to say that I've thought a lot about this.

At this point, when I read what someone writes attacking eternal security, I don't hear anything new. I wouldn't mind hearing something new.  I wouldn't mind hearing something of a supportive nature for eternal security.  Either way, it hasn't happened for awhile.  It still hasn't after reading someone who's been arguing against eternal security at a fundamentalist website (SharperIron).   After a tremendous amount of interaction from both sides of the issue, I kind of understand how someone might be confused.  It's not because the Bible isn't clear.  It's plain.   However, if you looked at certain verses not in both their immediate or a larger context, they might seem like the Bible is actually teaching conditional security.

What anyone reading needs to recognize is that since God is one, He won't contradict Himself.  All of the doctrine of the Bible fits together.  If the Bible teaches eternal security in one or several places, then it won't be contradicted in other places.  All the various passages harmonize with one another.

On the other hand, there is often a razor-thin balance between certain doctrines.  They're almost seamless.  They don't contradict, but there is little room between them.  Here's what I mean on this particular subject.  If God says, once you believe in Christ, you're saved forever, can never lose the salvation, someone might think that he could live any way he wanted after that.  He can't.  Even better, he won't.  Why?  People who don't live for the Lord won't be saved.  They aren't saved.   If they say they've believed in Jesus Christ, that's possible, but it's a dead faith.  Saving faith changes someone's life.  He is a new creature.  So do you get saved by living for the Lord?  No.  But you will live for the Lord if you're saved.  The one who lives for the Lord will be saved.  There is a fine line, like I mentioned.  But there is a line.

If someone makes a profession of faith and then doesn't keep living the Christian life, did he lose his salvation?  No.  Salvation is of the Lord.  God is the one doing the saving.  And once He saves, He keeps saving.  There can only be one explanation, and it is made in Scripture.  He was never saved in the first place.  There are two places that make this point:  1 John 2:19 and 1 John 3:6.

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

In the first verse, notice it says, "If they had been of us, they would not doubt have continued with us."  Anyone who is really saved will continue.  He will persevere.  He will overcome.  And then look at the next part:  "They went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."  When someone "falls away" or "turns away," he is just manifesting that he never had it in the first place.  He "went out," because he was not "of us," not because he lost anything.

The second verse explains why someone lives a lifestyle of sin, goes about in habitual sinning (present tense verbs).  The reason someone won't live the Christian life is because he has "not seen him, neither known him."  The assumption you should have is that if he had seen Christ and known Christ, he would not be living a lifestyle of sin.  In other words, if he were saved, he would continue in righteousness, not depart from the faith.

Someone might ask, "What is apostasy?"  A saved person cannot apostatize.  Only an unsaved person can apostatize.  Apostasy is when a person experiences salvation in the greatest possible way, yet without actually receiving Christ, and then turns from salvation.  Hebrews 6:1-8 describes this.  A person interacts with the most revelation he can without receiving it in a saving fashion, and then turns away from it.  That is an apostate.  That is Judas Iscariot.  Apostates are people never saved in the first place.

There are two other aspects that people become confused about.  One is the eschatological use of the term "saved."  If I say, people who do not live a lifestyle of good works will not be saved, I'm not saying that someone is saved by works.  I'm saying that his life is changed through justification and regeneration, and so he will live good works before he is glorified.  Glorification is the eschatological salvation.  People who will be saved are people who are converted and they do live a Christian life.

The other is the use of conditional sentences.  One of these is Colossians 1:22-23:

To present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:  If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel.

Those two verses say that you'll be presented holy and unblameable and unreproveable, if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled.  Some might say that these two verses teach that you are saved by continuing.  They don't say that.   People who do not continue are not saved.  People who do continue are saved.  People who are saved will be presented to God holy and unblameable and unreproveable.  Why?  They are saved.  People who are saved will continue.  A side point, that isn't the case with every conditional sentence, but it is true in the above two verses is that the conditional sentence ("if") is a first class condition (ei with the indicative).  The first class conditional sentence is a condition of reality or as A. T Robertson says, "Determined as fulfilled."  So the condition of "continuing" is determined as fulfilled.  The fact that there is a condition ("if") doesn't mean that someone who is saved might not continue in the faith grounded and settled.

How I explain the above situation is that for everything that God does, we cooperate with it.  God keeps saving us, so we keep continuing.  We act as if our not continuing will result in us not being saved, because that's how God presents it.  God is doing all the saving, but if He is doing that, we are cooperating with it.  We have to cooperate with it, but we will because God is doing the saving.

Much more can be said about this, but what's the danger in thinking that we've got to do works in order to stay saved?   It's all presented in Galatians 5:1-4.  Any work added to grace nullifies grace.  Christ is become of no effect unto the person.  He becomes a debtor to do the whole law.  Christ profits him nothing.  Anyone who says he must keep living obediently or lose his justification has added works to grace.  It's ironic.  He thinks that he will apostatize by stopping the doing of good works, but instead he's apostatized by adding works to grace.

Monday, June 17, 2013

How Big Is Disobedience to 2 Corinthians 6:14?

The Corinthians were shutting the Apostle Paul out because of the influence of unbelievers.  The prescription was a command in 2 Corinthians 6:14, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers."  Then Paul spends several verses giving reasons why to obey this command.  It's a command from God. It's also axiomatic in light of the rhetorical questions Paul asks immediately following that command.

The above is a command that I've heard and read is supposed to define fundamentalism.  And let's say, "historic fundamentalism," because that's what people want you to be sure that they mean.  They would say, "Historic fundamentalists didn't separate over a bunch of peripheral, non-essentials, but over the gospel."  The term "gospel-centered" might even come into play here.  With that in mind, they would say that some of the conservative evangelicals are historic fundamentalists.  We come up with the labels and titles, but God considers whether we obey what He said, like 2 Corinthians 6:14, for instance.

You can often tell what someone loves by his reactions.  When by accident you dent someone's car, you might watch how he reacts to that.  Sometimes all it takes is getting in front of him at a four way stop, when he thought he was there first.

At the ETS meeting in San Francisco, I asked Al Mohler how he could obey 2 Corinthians 6:14 and be a Southern Baptist.   He didn't answer my question.  He was obviously offended with it and then dodged it.  Southern Baptists live with incongruity of light and darkness, righteousness and unlawfulness, believing and not believing, and Christ and Satan, against the command of 2 Corinthians 6:14.

Fundamentalists not too upset, if at all, with Al Mohler, are aggravated with, one, KJVO, two, men who believe women shouldn't wear pants, and, three, convictions against Christian rock.  Those are very often the real deal breakers.  They'll separate over those, albeit even if it is only the cold shoulder type of fundamentalist separation not mirrored anywhere in the Bible.  Why are the three I mentioned so often so very serious, but little a peep over the conservative evangelicals among the Southern Baptists?

Several years ago now, I reproved Jason Janz, then owner of SharperIron (SI), for posting a Douglas Kutilek article calling KJVO men the lemmings of Donald Waite.   I received notice that I would not be banned from SharperIron, but I would obtain the unique status of not banned but instead having no more posting privileges.  He was clear with the difference.  I would not be banned.  I just couldn't post any more.  Why?  He didn't want to have people like us at his site, the kind of people who believed like we believed.  Who was we?  I don't know.  What did we do?  He didn't say.  That was as specific as he got.  If you looked into their archives, you'll see that I never had the term "banned" next to my name as others received.  I'm sure it was because I had not done anything to merit being banned.  I'm not attempting to get back.  I've not asked to go back.  It's been better for me not to be there.  However, I got severe discipline for asking about the term "lemming" as it applied to those who exclusively use the King James Version.

I still at times read articles and the comment section at SI.  To a refutation of the new perspective on Paul, an SI member wrote the following:

[A] present state of justification does not guarantee a future state of justification. What Scripture makes clear is that justification is mutable. Your and my state of justification can be lost.

I read that and several other substantiating statements by this member, someone who was advocating a false gospel.  He wasn't misrepresenting his own doctrine of conditional security.  There were men who disagreed with him, but no one called it a false gospel.  No one shut down the thread.  None of the moderators confronted him directly for espousing a false gospel.  He wasn't asked to recant or be banned.  He was still in good standing.  So if someone can lose his justification, then who is doing the justifying?

You say you're KJVO, and watch men jump on that.  You say you oppose pants on women and witness the hot reaction.  You say that Christian rock is wrong and watch the harsh criticism come from fundamentalists.  What about when someone espouses a false gospel?  Isn't separation from this what really characterizes a historic fundamentalist?  One would have thought that, but you can tell what people love by their reaction.

What the above quote represents is actual legalism.  Actual legalism.  People are so up in arms with labeling "rules" and those who utilize them as legalistic, that when they actually see legalism, they don't even recognize it.  Of course, to them legalism is opposing the practice of mixed swimming, worthy of intense confrontation, even mockery, but what about when Christ is made of no effect unto you, because you are fallen from grace?  Anything?  How big is disobedience to 2 Corinthians 6:14?

Friday, June 14, 2013

“The just shall live by faith”— A Study of the Relationship of Faith to Salvation in its Justifying, Sanctifying, and Glorifying Fulness, part 15

The specific quotations of Genesis 15:6[i] and Habakkuk 2:4 in the New Testament, both by Paul and by James, lie in clear continuity with both the grammatical-historical meaning of the Old Testament texts in their specific contexts and the wider Old and New Testament doctrines about the status and character of the just, the nature of the life that they possess, and the role of faith.  The New Testament quotations will be examined in their chronological order—James, then Galatians, then Romans, and finally Hebrews.

James, in his quotation from Genesis 15:6 in James 2:23, emphasizes the aspect of the Old Testament doctrine of faith that indicates that continuing faith, faithfulness, and obedience are the certain products of genuine conversion and justifying faith.  His usage is clear from an examination of James 2:14-26.  A man who says that he has faith, but does not have works, does not have the sort of faith that Abraham possessed, but a “faith” of a different and inferior character, a kind of mental assent that does not result in inward renewal and one that will not save he who possesses only it (James 2:14).[ii] James 2:14a-d does not actually affirm that the speaker is a possessor of genuine faith;  rather, he is one who only vocally testifies that he is a possessor of faith (cf. 1:25).  Nor does James call him a “brother”;  he is simply “a man,” a certain one who says[iii] he has faith—indeed, he is but a “vain man” (2:20).  While he does not affirm that this “vain man” has real faith, James does state that this man does not have works—while such a person says that he has faith, what is actually clear is that he does not have works.[iv]  His faith does not express itself in deeds, only in words—the only way that he can show that he has faith is by a confession of orthodox doctrine, for his deeds show nothing (2:18-19).[v]  The absence of works is a clear distinguishing characteristic of his life.[vi]  James therefore asks, “can faith—the kind of faith[vii] that does not produce works—save?” (James 2:14e).  James’ answer to this question is “no.”[viii]  Such a profession of faith is as empty and worthless as are pleasant sounding words unaccompanied by genuine material assistance to a desperately needy, hungry, and naked Christian brother who is in danger of death by starvation or exposure (2:15-17; cf. Matthew 25:36, 43).  A profession of compassion without deeds has no value in meeting physical needs, and an empty profession of faith that does not produce works similarly has no power to save spiritually.  This kind of faith,[ix] the kind that is characteristically or continually unaccompanied by works,[x] is dead, being alone or by itself[xi] (2:17, 20, 26).  There is as much of a difference between this professed but empty and dead “faith” and saving faith as there is between a dead body and a living man (2:26),[xii] and such a dead faith will only save men as much as it will save devils (2:19).[xiii]

James sets forth Abraham (2:21-24) as the paradigmatic example of the fact that saving faith is always accompanied with works.  Abraham was justified by works[xiv]—shown to be righteous[xv] in this world—when he offered Isaac his son, as recorded in Genesis 22.[xvi]  Works did not transfer Abraham from the realm of those under Divine wrath and headed for damnation into the realm of the redeemed who possess the Divine favor and are headed for eternal glory.  Such a transformation, as James indicates by his quotation of Genesis 15:6, took place when Abraham believed and was accounted righteous through the imputation of Messianic righteousness.  Works do not transform a dead faith into a living faith, but they manifest the presence of living faith.  James recognizes the teaching of Genesis that faith, not obedience, is the instrumentality through which men receive that perfect and sufficient righteousness that provides a sure everlasting hope in the sight of God, while he emphasizes the fact, also clearly taught in Genesis and the rest of the Old Testament, that the believing are the faithful, so that those who are declared righteous before God on the basis of imputed righteousness are also shown righteous in this life by their works.  James refers to the “works” of Abraham, rather than to the single “work” of offering up Isaac, because Abraham’s faithfulness on Mount Moriah, in putting Jehovah’s command before his own beloved Isaac (Genesis 22), was the culminating work recorded in Genesis of the patriarch’s life of faithfulness, all of which sprung out of the transformation that took place in his life decades earlier through his being brought into union with God through faith in the land of Ur[xvii] as attested in Genesis 15:6.  Abraham’s faith was “made perfect”[xviii] by his works (James 2:22) because Abraham’s receipt of a Divine imputed righteousness was not left alone, but led to progressive sanctification and ultimately to glorification.  Justification, sanctification, and glorification are a continuum along which all the saints, but none but they, are brought.  Abraham’s faith in response to the Divine call and revelation in Genesis 12 and 15 was brought to full measure, to completeness, by works, in that inward holiness and its outward fruit of good works are products of the union with Christ established through faith.  The statement of Genesis 15:6 that Abraham believed God was “fulfilled” (James 2:23) by Abraham’s faithful obedience, culminating in the events of Genesis 22, because true faith, the faith that brings he who exercises it into union with Jehovah and results in imputed righteousness, also always results in faithfulness and obedience.  Such obedience is so certain an issue of saving faith that James can regard the statement of Abraham’s exercise of saving faith in Genesis 15:6 as a prediction[xix] of following obedience which was fulfilled in the patriarch’s works, culminating in Genesis 22.  Abraham’s offering up his son was a fulfillment of his believing in God.  One who believes will come to act like Abraham did in Genesis 22 and will be the friend of God[xx] instead of being the friend of the world and the adulterous enemy of God (James 4:4). Had Abraham stayed in Ur of the Chaldees instead of rejecting idolatry and entrusting himself to and following Jehovah based on the Abrahamic covenant, he would not have been justified, as Rahab would likewise not have been justified had she sided with the idolatrous enemies of Jehovah in Jericho and had she refused to protect the spies (James 2:25; Joshua 2, 6), but they both would have been unjustified not because they had a true faith that just never produced anything, but because such a lack of works would have been indicative of an absence of true faith.[xxi]  Since true faith always results in faithfulness,[xxii] the kind of faith that does not produce works is dead (James 2:20, 24, 26).  James affirms, as does Paul (Romans 2:13) and the rest of the Old and New Testament, that one who possesses a dead “faith only”[xxiii] that is without works, one who is a “hearer only” (James 1:22)[xxiv] who does not obey the Word, is yet unregenerate.[xxv]  Such a person must not allow himself to be deceived by his empty profession.  Abraham’s life is clear—true faith results in faithfulness, and only the believing, who are the faithful, possess spiritual life now and eternal life in the eschaton.  The just shall live by faith.

This post is part of the complete study here.


[i] Richard Longenecker notes:
The theme of the faith of Abraham in the NT . . . has a number of facets to it, and each possesses its own validity as well as serves to enhance the whole: Faith is a wholehearted response to God in Christ, apart from a person’s own attempts to gain merit, as Paul has stressed in countering the Judaizers; it is that which results in acts of positive helpfulness and kindness with respect to the physical needs of others, as James has emphasized in combating a perversion of Christian doctrine: and it is that which eagerly looks forward to the full realization of God’s promises in the future, arranging its priorities and setting its lifestyle accordingly here and now, as . . . Hebrews has highlighted in confronting the situation [it] was addressing. Like the beauty of a diamond which is only fully appreciated when the gem is rotated slowly in the light, so the faith of Abraham is only known in its fulness as we study it in its varying circumstantial dimensions and as we allow those dimensions to transform our own thinking, outlook, lifestyle and action. (pg. 211, “The ‘Faith of Abraham’ Theme in Paul, James, and Hebrews:  A Study in the Circumstantial Nature of New Testament Teaching,” Richard N. Longenecker.  Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 20:3 (September 1977) 203-212)

[ii] Ti÷ to\ o¡feloß, aÓdelfoi÷ mou, e˙a»n pi÷stin le÷ghØ tiß e¶cein, e¶rga de« mh\ e¶chØ; mh\ du/natai hJ pi÷stiß sw◊sai aujto/n;  James 2:14 states the topic of the entire section of 2:14-26.

[iii] le÷ghØ tiß.  Note also 2:18, where his claim that he has faith is repeated, although James affirms that his claim is merely empty.

[iv] e¶rga de« mh\ e¶chØ.

[v] James’ reference to the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4) is illustrative, not comprehensive, of the orthodox doctrinal affirmations of his rhetorical adversary (the “vain man” of v. 20) in 2:14-26.  The point is not that one has dead faith who is merely a monotheist, but that one who has a matchless profession of doctrinal orthodoxy, as illustrated in a happy confession of the Shema, but has no deeds, has dead faith.  The devils are not merely monotheists, but have a peerless theological orthodoxy;  they believe in the Trinity, in justification before God by faith alone, in the creation account of Genesis, the resurrection of Christ, heaven and hell, and all other Biblical doctrine, but they are obviously devoid of saving faith.

[vi] James consequently employs the present subjunctive e¶chØ rather than the aorist subjunctive scw◊ (Acts 25:26; Romans 1:13; Philippians 2:27) to describe what the man of James 2:14 does not have.  Many texts with the present subjunctive of e¶cw clearly refer to durative or continuing action, and not one clearly refers to a point action (Matthew 17:20; 19:16; 21:21; Mark 4:25; Luke 8:18; John 3:15–16; 5:40; 6:40; 8:6; 10:10; 13:35; 16:33; 17:13; 20:31; Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 4:15; 6:4; 13:1–3; 2 Corinthians 1:15; 2:3; 5:12; 8:12; Ephesians 4:28; Colossians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:12; 1 Timothy 5:20; Hebrews 6:18; 12:28; James 2:14, 17; 1 John 1:3; 2:28; 3:17; 4:17).

[vii] The article in James 2:14e on hJ pi÷stiß is anaphoric, referring to the pi÷stin le÷ghØ tiß e¶cein of James 2:14c;  that is, it “points back to a certain kind of faith as defined by the author” (pg. 219, Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics), namely, the kind of faith that does not produce works.  This kind of faith, a faith that does not manifest itself in works, is the topic in view throughout the passage.  Note the series of anaphoric articles on faith in the following verses:  hJ pi÷stiß, v. 17;  th\n pi÷stin sou . . .  th\n pi÷stin mou, v. 18;  hJ pi÷stiß, v. 20;  hJ pi÷stiß, v. 22 (2x);  hJ pi÷stiß, v. 26.
[viii] The question with mh/ in v. 14 anticipates a negative answer.

[ix] Note again the anaphoric article in ou¢tw kai« hJ pi÷stiß.

[x] mh\ e¶rga e¶chØ expresses durative action.

[xi] Compare the kaq∆ e˚auth/n of James 2:17 with Acts 28:16; Hebrews 6:13.

[xii] In James 2:26, the “faith” which is compared to a body is, in keeping with the pericope, intellectual assent to a body of doctrinal propositions.  Such intellectual assent, James affirms, is not living without works, which are compared to the animating spirit.  A living man, in contrast to a corpse, has both a body and a spirit.

[xiii] While the pisteu/w o¢ti in James 2:19 is not unable to express the totality of what is involved in saving faith, it here emphasizes the intellectual assent of the “faith” mentioned.

[xiv] The question of James 2:20 with ouj, which introduces the example of Abraham, expects a positive answer, as do the questions with ouj in 2:4-7, 25; 4:1, 4.

[xv] The verb to justify (dikaio/w) in James 2:21, 24, 25 does not refer to a legal declaration of righteousness at the judgment bar of God, based solely on the imputed righteousness of Christ, as it does in a variety of other texts in the New Testament (Luke 18:14; Acts 13:39; Revelation 22:11) and especially frequently in Paul, when he refers to the present justification believers receive through the sole instrumentality of faith (cf. Romans 3:20, 24, 26, 28, 30; 4:2, 5; 5:1, 9; 8:30, 33; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Galatians 2:16-17; 3:8, 11, 24; 5:4; Titus 3:7).  A variety of other senses of justification appear in the New Testament (cf. 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Corinthians 4:4).  The reference in James is rather to Abraham being declared, manifested, or shown as righteous in this world, during his lifetime, because of his righteous actions.  James’ declarative point is clearly stated in the context:  “I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18).  Abraham was shown to be righteous because he offered up Isaac, and Rahab was shown to be righteous because she protected the Hebrew spies.  Neither the predominant Pauline sense of to justify as a reference to the Divine declaration of the believer as righteous based solely on the imputed righteousness of Christ, nor the sense of to justify in James 2, refers to justification as an infusion of righteousness that confounds justification with progressive sanctification;  in both Paul and James justification is a declaration based on what is already present, not an infusion of holiness that inwardly constitutes one righteous.  It should be noted that the New Testament certainly does not always refer to justification as a legal declaration by God directed towards men, although justification remains always a declaration of righteousness rather than an infusion of holiness:  the children of wisdom justify wisdom (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:35);  God is justified in his sayings and overcomes when He is judged (Romans 3:4);  people justify God by submitting to the baptism of John the Baptist (Luke 7:29);  the self-righteous wish to justify themselves (Luke 10:29), and, indeed, the Pharisees were justifying themselves before men while they were still abominable to God (Luke 16:15).  People can declare God to be righteous, but they hardly can make Him so.  In light of the range in New Testament usage, there is nothing out of the ordinary in James’ use of justification as a this-worldy recognition of the righteousness of the righteous upon the earth, nor does his usage of the verb in this sense contradict in the least the usage of Paul about justification before the legal tribunal of God in heaven.

James’ usage of to justify also matches the dominant Pauline usage of the verb to refer to present realities possesssed by the people of God upon the earth, rather than an eschatological vindication.  In James 2 neither Abraham nor Rahab was justified with reference to an eschatological judgment;  Abraham offered up Isaac, and Rahab protected the spies, on the earth during their respective lifetimes.  Since all those who possess true faith will also be faithful, so that those who have had Christ perfectly fulfill the law for them will also be characterized by obedience to the law, there is no reason to deny that the people of God will experience an eschatological vindication of themselves as righteous associated with their speech and deeds (Matthew 12:37, cf. Romans 10:9-10).  Nonetheless those that are shown righteous, whether in this life (James 2) or in eschatological judgment, still have as the ultimate ground or basis of their standing before God only a righteousness from Christ credited to them through faith alone.  Those who characteristically obey the law will be justified (Romans 2:13), but not on the ground or basis of their obedience to the law, but because the doers of the law are those who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and consequently, by means of regeneration, have become faithful, although their standing before God, whether during their earthly pilgrimage or at the time of their standing before God in judgment, remains solely based on the imputed righteousness of Christ.

[xvi] Note God’s statement of Abraham’s righteousness in Genesis 22:12, where Abraham’s willingness to offer Isaac reveals the patriarch’s already extant faith, resulting in the blessings stated in 22:16-18.

[xvii] Compare Hebrews 11:8-19.  Note the view of James 2 in 1 Clement 10-12 also.

[xviii] In the expression e˙k tw◊n e¶rgwn hJ pi÷stiß e˙teleiw¿qh, teleio/w + e˙k indicates that faith is “made perfect” by works in the sense that faith reaches its intended goal in works, rather than that faith is inherently imperfect or flawed until a certain level of works become manifest.  A conceptual parallel is found in 1 John 4:12 (e˙a»n aÓgapw◊men aÓllh/louß, oJ Qeo\ß e˙n hJmi√n me÷nei, kai« hJ aÓga¿ph aujtouv teteleiwme÷nh e˙sti«n e˙n hJmi√n), where the love of God is “perfected” in believers as they love one another in that Divine love is brought to its intended goal—certainly God’s love is not imperfect until believers come to love one another enough.  The specific teleio/w + e˙k construction in James 2:22 is a New Testament hapax legomenon, but Koiné parallels support the idea of perfecting as being brought to an intended goal;  e. g., Philo refers to one who has been “made perfect by education,” that is, brought to the intended goal by means of education (e˙k didaskali÷aß teleiwqe÷nti, On Rewards and Punishments 1:49; cf. On Husbandry 1:42; On the Confusion of Tongues 1:181).

[xix] The “and the scripture was fulfilled” (kai« e˙plhrw¿qh hJ grafh/) formula of James 2:23 is Biblically employed for the fulfillment of prophecy (Matthew 26:54, 56; Mark 14:49; 15:28; Luke 4:21; Acts 1:16) and should not have its prophecy/fulfillment sense weakened in the exposition of James 2.

[xx] James 2:23, fi÷loß Qeouv.  See Isaiah 41:8 (Symmachus, touv fi÷lou mou for the Hebrew y`IbShOa); 2 Chronicles 20:7; cf. John 15:14-15.  In Genesis 18, Abraham also showed friendship/hospitality (filoxeni÷a) to the Lord and two angels (Hebrews 13:2).  Abraham was the friend of God from the time of his justification by faith, but he was called (e˙klh/qh, James 2:23) and recognized as the friend of God subsequently because of the works that manifested his faith.

[xxi] Hebrews 11:31.  All the inhabitants of the city of Jericho had the “faith” of the “vain man” of James 2:20 (Joshua 2:9-11), but only Rahab truly believed and entrusted herself to Jehovah (Hebrews 11:31; Joshua 2:11; cf. Deuteronomy 4:39) and consequently acted on her already present living faith, so that she was saved instead of perishing with the idolators of Jericho.  While those in Jericho with the vain man’s “faith” perished as “accursed” (M®rEj) under the temporal curse of death and the eternal curse of the second death, “Rahab . . . shall live” and be “saved . . . alive” (Joshua 6:17, 25, hÎyDj) with all that pertained to her, delivered from spiritual, physical, and eternal death with the pagans in Jericho, to possess spiritual life, a blessed portion with the people of God, and eternal life.

[xxii] From his use of both Abraham and Rahab as illustrations, James demonstrates that in all cases works proceed from true faith.  If those from the status of the patriarch of Israel down to the status of a Canaanite prostitute woman manifest their faith in works, surely all those of any status with real faith will manifest their belief in works (cf. James 2:1ff.).

[xxiii] pi÷stiß mo/noß.

[xxiv] mo/noß aÓkroath/ß, the only other use of mo/noß in James.

[xxv] Warfield notes:

It was to James that it fell to rebuke the Jewish tendency to conceive of the faith which was pleasing to Jehovah as a mere intellectual acquiescence in His being and claims, when imported into the Church and made to do duty as ‘the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Glory’ (James 2:1). He has sometimes been misread as if he were depreciating faith, or at least the place of faith in salvation. But it is perfectly clear that with James, as truly as with any other New Testament writer, a sound faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the manifested God (James 2:1) lies at the very basis of the Christian life (James 1:3), and is the condition of all acceptable approach to God (James 1:6, 5:15). It is not faith as he conceives it which he depreciates, but that professed faith (le÷ghØ, James 2:14) which cannot be shown to be real by appropriate works (James 2:18), and so differs by a whole diameter alike from the faith of Abraham that was reckoned unto him for righteousness (James 2:23), and from the faith of Christians as James understood it (James 2:1, 1:3, cf. 1:22). The impression which is easily taken from the last half of the second chapter of James, that his teaching and that of Paul stand in some polemic relation, is, nevertheless, a delusion, and arises from an insufficient realization of the place occupied by faith in the discussions of the Jewish schools, reflections of which have naturally found their way into the language of both Paul and James. And so far are we from needing to suppose some reference, direct or indirect, to Pauline teaching to account for James’ entrance upon the question which he discusses, that this was a matter upon which an earnest teacher could not fail to touch in the presence of a tendency common among the Jews at the advent of Christianity (cf. Matthew 3:9; 7:21; 23:3; Romans 2:17), and certain to pass over into Jewish-Christian circles: and James’ treatment of it finds, indeed, its entire presupposition in the state of things underlying the exhortation of James 1:22. When read from his own historical standpoint, James’ teachings are free from any disaccord with those of Paul, who as strongly as James denies all value to a faith which does not work by love (Galatians 5:6; 1 Corinthians 13:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:3). In short, James is not depreciating faith: with him, too, it is faith that is reckoned unto righteousness (ii.23), though only such a faith as shows itself in works can be so reckoned, because a faith which does not come to fruitage in works is dead, non-existent. He is rather deepening the idea of faith, and insisting that it includes in its very conception something more than an otiose intellectual assent. (“The Biblical Doctrine of Faith,” Biblical Doctrines, vol. 2 of Works)