Thursday, November 19, 2015

Abraham's salvation and dispensationalism

How was Abraham saved? How do you reconcile Romans 4 with James 2?

The Bible teaches that Abraham received imputed righteousness by faith in Genesis 15:4-6 and that he received justification in Geneses 22:10 with the offering up of Isaac. The offering up of Isaac is said to have "fulfilled" the statement "Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness" (Jam. 2:23). James said that "faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect" (Jam. 2:22). If the Bible says what it means and means what it says, then Abraham was justified by faith, but by perfected faith. That is what the text says. The initial statement in Genesis 15:6 is something that had to be "fulfilled" and "made perfect". Justification has always been by faith, but in the Old Testament and the Gospel of the Kingdom justification was by the faith of man and not the faith of Christ. Man's faith can "draw back" (Heb. 10:39), be "weak" (Rom. 4:19), be "wavering" (Jam. 1:6), and it must be "tried" (1 Pet. 1:7). However, under Grace we are justified by the faith of Christ, which is already perfect and proven. Which is why we receive imputed righteousness and justification at the same time (Rom. 4:1-5:1, Acts 13:38-39). We which have believed on Christ are justified by the faith of Christ under Grace (Gal. 2:16, 2:20, 3:22, Rom. 3:22, 1 Thes. 5:23-24, 2 Tim. 2:13, Eph. 3:12, Phil. 3:9). This spiritual blessing was not available to those before the cross (Gal. 3:22-23). Jesus Christ was obedient unto death, in full faith in the Father, and we are justified by His faith as members of His body (Eph. 5:30, 2 Tim. 2:13). Interestingly enough, the believers of the Gospel of the Kingdom are commanded to keep the faith of Jesus, His same faith of being obedient unto death (Rev. 14:12, Phil. 2:8, Heb. 4:15, 5:8-9). 

Some people (non dispensationalists) disregard James 2 as having anything to do with Abraham's salvation and they teach that it is referring to "justification before men" and how it takes faith plus works to help our fellow man. I am sure that everyone agrees that we should help people and that faith alone will not help feed/clothe our friends, only our good works will help them in that regard. But the issue is that James 2 is not just about helping people. James 2:14 asks IF faith can "SAVE" a man, shifting the context to justification and salvation. I don't see where the Bible teaches that we are to be justified before men, "And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." (Luke 16:15) When James asks "what doth it profit" the context is how will it profit the person, not the brethren...What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? (Jam. 2:14)

--Eli Caldwell

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