Category Archives: James 2

Playing Church

By johninnc

2 Corinthians 6:14: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Our friend and frequent commenter at ExPreacherMan, Bryan Roach, posted the following comment that I thought would provide a good springboard for an article on “playing church.”

Wow, if I didn’t know any better, I would have thought both of y’all were visiting churches in my area. I have dealt with the exact same situation with several preachers seeing no problem with preaching grace, yet distributing LS material and associating with other preachers and organizations that promote the LS gospel. I’ve had meetings with several who have told me that “I’m being too picky, or over thinking it.” They don’t want to start a debate between LS members and the grace members, because unity is their top priority. One pastor said, “My church will have some Arminians, some 5 point Calvinists, and some 0 point Calvinists, but what I love about our church is that we are all here in unity and we take pride in that.” It’s sad and frustrating to say the least.

“Playing church” refers to people gathering under the mistaken belief that they are gathering in Christ’s name.

Matthew 18:20: For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Unlike the many false substitutes that go by the name “church”, the true universal church is comprised of those who have believed in Jesus alone as Savior.

John 1: 12-13:

[12] But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

[13] Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

In a sense, only those that believe on His name (believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone) can be truly gathered in his name.

Anything else is just playing church.

If your “church” teaches, or tolerates,  any of the following things (note that this is not an all-inclusive list), particularly after you have tried to teach them the truth, they are simply playing church.

  • You have to be willing to turn from your sins to be saved
  • You must repent of your sins to be saved
  • You must want to follow Christ to be saved
  • You must want to have a relationship with Christ to be saved
  • It’s not faith and works. It’s faith that works
  • God will never take away your salvation, but you can walk away from it
  • You can lose your salvation through serious, habitual sin
  • If you die with serious, unconfessed sin, you won’t go to heaven
  • You have to be water baptized to have eternal life
  • You have to make a public confession of Christ to have eternal life
  • You will not be sinless, but you will sin less
  • A true Christian will bear the fruit of a changed life
  • Intellectual assent is not saving faith
  • Jesus didn’t save us in our sins, He saved us from our sins
  • Faith is the gift of God
  • A true Christian wants to obey Christ
  • He can’t be your Savior if he’s not your Lord
  • A true Christian may stumble every once in a while, but he won’t live in persistent willful sin
  • A true Christian will…

There are all kinds of “churches,” ministries, books, DVDs, youtube videos, and so on run by people who insist that they believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Sadly, most of them that I have encountered do not really believe or teach that.

Below is an example from an internet ministry that I recently came across. They claim to believe in salvation by grace through faith, but their further statements belie that.

Saving Faith is trusting in Jesus Christ, and Him alone, for your Salvation…

Are you willing to repent of your sins right now, and become a responsible member of God’s forever family, following Him and serving Him as a member of His forever family, following Him and serving Him as a member of His body, the Church? If your heartfelt answer is, “Yes”, then we can go to Him now in prayer, and we can tell Him that you want to cease trusting in anything else for Eternal Salvation, especially in what you can do for yourself.

This so-called ministry is teaching that one receives eternal life by TRADING willingness to repent from sins and follow Christ. This is a false gospel of works that will not save anyone. The Bible teaches that eternal life is a gift, not a trade.

Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

If you have understood and believed the gospel, please don’t continue to yoke yourself with those who teach, or tolerate false gospel substitutes.

And, if playing church has kept you confused about how to receive eternal life, click here: THE GOSPEL

“The Naked Gospel”: Just Another False Gospel of Works


by johninnc

My wife and I were recently introduced to a book called “The Naked Gospel,” written by Andrew Farley.

The first thing I do when I hear about a biblical book or author is to deteermine where they stand on the gospel. If someone gets the gospel wrong, I am not interested any of their biblical teaching.

Unfortunately, Farley clothes a false gospel of works under the clever guise of grace. Nowhere is this more telling than in his section called “Looking for Evidence” (pages 197-199).

Farley spends close to 200 pages beguiling the reader with personal yarns and anecdotes, mixed with some scripture, before finally coming to his false gospel.

Following are extensive excerpts, with my comments (interspersed, parenthetically, in bold):

James 2 clearly says we’re justified by works too, not by faith alone. To dance around this passage by saying it refers to works after salvation is faulty. The passage specifically asks, “Can such faith save them?” (James 2:14). In addition, it repeatedly addresses being justified before God, a status that occurs at salvation. Without a doubt, James says we’re justified by works and not by faith alone. But, the important question is: What does James mean by works?

(James 2 NEVER says that one is justified before God by works. Farley has simply invented this into scripture. Romans 4:2 gives the real story: For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.)

I believe the key to understanding this passage is to avoid bringing our twenty-first century mind-set to the table, especially with regard to the term works. Rather than assuming that works should be understood as a life-long record of religious activity, one should consult the biblical text and let the writer himself define the term. James own use of the term works is quite different from how we use it today.

(Nonsense. “It depends what the definition of is is”).

James explains that even the demons can believe the basics of Christianity – that there is one God, and so forth (2:19). He shows us the difference between nodding with your head with dead faith versus expressing living faith. The purpose of the passage is to communicate that faith without decision or response is dead faith.

(There is no “…and so forth.” Again, Farley has fabricated scripture. James 2:19: Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.)

James uses two Old Testament examples, Rahab and Abraham, to explain justification by works. Both characters actively responded to God’s message. They didn’t sit back passively and claim they believed God. Rahab decided to open her door to the spies (Joshua 2:1), and Abraham chose to offer his son on the altar (Genesis 22:3). They went beyond mere intellectual assent and did something in response to God’s message.

(Neither Abraham, nor Rahab, receieved eternal life by these acts. They were not justified before God for these acts. Nor does this imply that good works are automatic in the life of a believer. Rahab and Abraham were faithful when their faith was tested. James is using their examples to exhort the BELIEVERS to whom he is writing to an active faith).

But, how many times did Rahab open the door? Once. And how many times did Abraham hoist his son Isaac on the altar? Once. Hence, works in this passage is really not about a lifelong track record of good behavior. It’s actually about the importance of responding to the truth – an act that goes beyond mere intellectual agreement. James 2 might be summarized by the following train of thought:

  • We’re justified by works (but works needs to be defined in context).
  • Works are like what Rahab and Abraham did.
  • Living faith involves opening a door (of your life) – a work.
  • Living faith involves offering someone (yourself) – a work.
  • So living faith involves decision – a work.
  • Any faith without decision is just dead faith.

(So, Mr. Farley, we’re not saved by works, but by a single work that proves our faith? Would I have to be willing to kill my son to receive the free gift of eternal life? Do I have to be willing to let Jesus come in and change my life? Or, would some other work of righteousness be acceptable to God to prove I wasn’t exercising mere intellectual assent?)

James 2 communicates that personal decision is necessary in order for true salvation to occur. Those who appear to fall away from belief in Jesus are those who merely associated themselves with certain doctrines for whatever reason. They may abandon Christianity the movement. They may abandon Christians, sometimes accompanied by personal resentment. But, they don’t abandon Christ, since they never knew Him. Ascribing to certain doctrines is one thing, but opening the door of your life and receiving the life of Christ is altogether different.

(Farley has cleverly redefined decision to include WORKS. One receives eternal life by believing in Jesus as his Savior. The content of that belief is that Christ – God our Savior – died for our sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead. As soon as one believes that Jesus’ death and resurrection were sufficient to take away his sin and give him everlasting life, he is saved.

In addition, the parable of the sower teaches that some believe only for a while. Farley seems to have re-written this part of scripture as well.)

Once James 2 is seen in context, it doesn’t conflict with Romans or any other faith-centered passage. We need to recognized that this passage in James does not seem to be referring to a post-salvation experience. It’s specifically addressing the question, “Can such faith save them?” (James 2:14). From there we must grasp James’s own use of the term works by consulting the examples he gives. James’s purpose is to contrast mere intellectual agreement with active, saving faith that involves receiving the life of Christ. When Christ stood at the door and knocked, did you respond by opening the door, as Rahab did? If so, I think you’ve met the requirement of this historically controversial faith-works passage.

James 2 is not inviting us to introspect and assess our long-tem track-record of good works; in context, it appears to be contrasting dead faith (intellectual assertion only) with living faith (true conviction followed by decision).

We must never forget that truth is supposed to set us free!

(We receive the life of Christ when we believe the gospel. We do not have to “open the door” or any other such nonsense.

Yes, the truth is supposed to set us free. The truth starts with the gospel. If one thinks that he must do works (or make a decision), as defined by Farley, to receive eternal life, he does not believe the gospel.)

If you would like to know how to have eternal life, click here: THE GOSPEL

 

Lordship Salvation’s James Gang: Robbing the Gospel

The James Gang, also known as the James-Younger Gang, was a nineteenth century band of outlaws led by the notorious Frank and Jesse James, and Cole Younger. They robbed trains, stagecoaches, and banks.

According to linecamp.com:

James Gang Originally formed around 1866, with its leaders being, Frank James, Jesse James, and Cole Younger. From 1866 to 1881, the James Gang knew a fairly active life. James Gang members averaged around twelve men, formerly members of Quantrills Guerillas

 James Gang carried out stagecoach robberies with elaborate escape routes and knew the area, the lawmen and the communities. The Missouri southern sympathizers regularly sheltered from the long arm of the law the James Gang.

Within the spiritual realm, there is also a “James Gang” of sorts. Their leaders are not the James brothers or Cole Younger. Their leader is Satan. Their targets aren’t trains, stagecoaches, or banks. Their target is the gospel. Their weapons aren’t guns. Their weapons are Bible verses, always taken out of context, used to try to prove that one CANNOT be saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Their weapon of choice? The book of James.

Following is an observation on the misuse of the book of James by Lordship “salvationists” from Clear Gospel Campaign:

…those who believe that they, rather than Jesus Christ, are the Savior of their own souls, have, for centuries, sought from Scripture proof-texts to justify this conclusion.

 Perhaps no other passage in Scripture has been more abused to justify this belief than the second chapter of James.  As a result, unregenerate teachers claim that James teaches salvation by “faith plus works, and justification by “faith plus works,” and that evangelicals are preaching a half-truth when they preach that Jesus Christ alone is sufficient for man’s salvation.

The spiritual James Gang does not commit their crimes on horseback. They commit their crimes from the pulpit, from behind a keyboard, in Bible studies, in social media, and in the printing press.

Just like the James-Younger Gang had sympathizers, the spiritual James Gang has sympathizers who aid and abet their assaults on the gospel.   Some of the sympathizers do it knowingly, while others are unwitting.

Forms of sympathy for the evil works of the James Gang include: joining their churches, buying their books, maintaining Christian fellowship with them, and worst of all – agreeing with them IN PART.

Consider, for example, the following quote from Charles Ryrie, whom many would consider to be a champion for the purity of the gospel, on James 2:24:

Unproductive faith cannot save because it is not genuine faith. Faith and works are like a two-coupon ticket to Heaven. The coupon of works is not good for passage, and the coupon of faith is not valid if detached from works.

The reality is, the book of James was written to believers, calling them to an active faith. It was written, because many of its readers need to be spurred by God’s Word to an active faith. It was not written to tell who the “real Christians” are. It was not a “test of life” to determine whether someone had, or had not, believed in Christ as Savior.

Following are some key points to consider, from Clear Gospel Campaign:

James is not speaking of being saved by “faith plus works.”

James is not speaking of a “faith that works.”  (As if works “automatically” follow eternal salvation.)

James is not saying that works will “automatically” follow eternal salvation.

James is not saying that works will “prove” whether or not someone has “really” been saved.

The reason, quite simply, is that James isn’t speaking about eternal salvation at all.  He is speaking of salvation from trials and hardships.

While the target of the spiritual James Gang is the gospel, the victims are the people who teach a false gospel and the people who believe it.   If you have been victimized by the James Gang, and would like to know how to receive the FREE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE, please read the following link:

 https://expreacherman.com/eternal-life-for-you/