In which faith working through love is the thing

by Craig on May 24, 2011

source

The words above?

Who wrote those words?

They sure sound like words that James would’ve written. They fit very snugly in his letter. It’d go like this, “Faith without works is dead. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

But they were written by Paul.

Who’d he write them to?

The church in Galatia, in what we now call Turkey.

And a side thought – sorry for the interruption.

Isn’t it strange that nearly the whole Arab world was once Christian? Egypt was a hotbed of new and powerful religious thought. All of North Africa – Libya, Morocco, all along the coast of the Mediterranean – all Christian. Syria, Jordan, all that troublesome area surrounding Israel, the “Palestinian State”, parts of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, even Iran, and all of Turkey – Christian.

Christianity converted first, and without a sword conquered Rome.
Islam conquered Christian lands, converting by the sword…

enough said.

Anyway…

Paul was writing the letter to a people who began the faith just fine. But now they were being convinced by some teachers with a strong Jewish bent, that they better obey the law of Moses in addition to their new found “grace” thing.

“You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Gal 5:4,5)

In context, Paul reminds them that there is a “day” approaching and if they want to go the way of “law” they better perform that “law” 100% between now and then.

That’s what it means to be without Grace.

He had told them that he couldn’t believe they would trade in the great beginning they had for the older, incomplete, and lesser, message.

Prophets had all yielded to the one perfect Prophet.

The kings of Israel had all now yielded to one eternal King.

The sign of circumcision was now baptism.

The law of Moses had given way to what James calls, “the perfect law of freedom”.

The 10 Commandments were summed up inside and outside by Jesus himself, “Love God, love others”…

source

The Old Testament promises were fulfilled in the Messiah.

And we fulfill them too, through him.

How?

This is the way I see it.

First, of course comes “the moment”. It’s the moment that we decide not to live all for me, with a little bit of God bandied about. But, rather, to live all for Jesus with a little bit of me brandished now and again.

It may be a prayer,
it may just be a decision,
but there is a “moment” when the heart changes.

And after the “moment” comes a lifetime of “faith working through love”.

The quest for perfection – and Grace for the quest.

A life of Christian faith mingled with works…

empowered by the Spirit…

and following the law…

not the “law” of Moses…

but of Love…

and doing “works”…

not works of the law of Moses…

but works of the law of Love.

Oh, so much more I need to dig into here…

Please come back.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie May 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm

“Faith expressing itself through love;” The only thing that counts. . .thank you, Craig. I am going to be praying and thinking about this today! I always marvel at how I can read something a thousand times, but then it comes to life to me. You helped that happen today!
God bless you!

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Craig May 26, 2011 at 6:38 pm

isn’t it funny, Debbie, all of the arguing that is done over Paul being against what James has said – and yet if we read Paul, we find again and again that he supports what James says. This verse has been there throughout the centuries – and all due respect to Mr. Martin Luther – but how could he miss this. A marriage of this verse from Paul and the verse from James is a marriage made in heaven. Thank you Debbie, and as always, and I mean it more each time I say it, God bless you and keep you and all of yours.

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Cora May 24, 2011 at 2:38 pm

The moment, the prayer, the decision. . .!!! I can go back to that time, and it wasn’t easy. That surprised me. You would think it would be so freeing to be free from the law — kind of like that old hymn that says,
“Free from the law—oh, happy condition!
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission;
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.
•Once for all—oh, sinner, receive it;
Once for all—oh, doubter, believe it;
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
Christ has redeemed us, Once for all.”
But immediately, I remember feeling “at risk.” I loved your picture today of the “inside – outside” heart. I knew that inside would now have to be outside. And love has the risk of being rejected, turned away from, pierced, and stomped on. Even “love” sounded like a greater “work” than works itself!!!! But we start at the beginning, don’t we? And we take a step toward love. It’s then that we find out that it’s all a flowing river, flowing from HIM, THROUGH us, and to others. It’s nothing that we cook up within ourselves. Your posts have meant so much to me, Craig. And I thank you for it all. Sometimes, it gets all messed up in the trying to find words. And when someone finds words for what is going on in my heart, then it seems to all spill out for me. And sometimes I need to be spilled out. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blogs!!!!

Source: http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/1001#ixzz1NIedGWtj

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Craig May 26, 2011 at 6:42 pm

thank you – Cora – the search for that picture of that heart was a long one – I need it the perfect one and found it – and you noticed it – I heart that – thank you SO much! And I heart what you wrote “a flowing river from him through us and to others” – beautiful – and so true. And Cora, I’m glad you “stumbled” upon my blogs too – wouldn’t be the same if you were not here! Bless you.

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Michelle May 25, 2011 at 7:45 am

I am so thankful for GRACE. Because without it……
But sometimes the law tries to creep in, and if we allow it…..it gets so hard.
But Grace! and Mercy!

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Craig May 26, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Michelle, without GRACE – there is no reason to live this life – not at all. But the fact that there is a CREATOR full of grace and mercy, and promising to keep us alive with him, in bliss, forever, it makes the trudging along that much better. It gives ultimate reason for this life. And yes, legalism is always nipping at the heels of grace – there just has to be balance, to obey, in love, knowing that the rules are there to keep us running as we are designed to run, and not to make life harder – but better. God is…good, thank you Michelle, and God bless you.

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A. June 2, 2011 at 12:42 am

the battle between grace and law…i am up to my neck in this one. stuff is being slung to and fro. grace is fighting hard to be heard without being misunderstood. the legal-minded piggies are waging war. I absolutely love this verse and have been basking in it and warming my toes by it and thawing out frozen places with it and just plain loving it. I am so very, very glad you found it and dusted it off for us, Craig!!!!

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