I realized someone has posted a link to my blog accusing Pastor Joseph Prince and D L Moody (yes the great D L Moody) of teaching false doctrines. Here is the article: http://www.learningfromthemaster.com/apps/blog/categories/show/1666488-grace-movement
This is the 8th notes in the series, the rest of the reply can be found at the end of this note. I have noted that the issues raised by the author of the above article are generically raised against the Grace Gospel. The replies I have made, I pray, may provide answers and truths for those who are confused. Today, I wish to speak about “heaven and earth” and what “faith that produces works”.
“Biblical works are rennounced as legalism
Grace Theology believes you can’t work your way to heaven. That’s true! You can’t. But they go a little bit further by saying faith and grace are enough to be saved. Therefore, biblical works are not necessary. So they ignore the laws of God, but even Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 – “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
But here’s the thing – free grace proponents agree that Jesus is the only way to be saved from our sins, yet they also refuse to honour the law or works. Faith without works is no faith at all!
James 2:14-17 says, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.“”
Heaven and Earth
“Matthew 5:17-18 (NKJV) “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
We began looking at these verses in our last study. And we saw that these verses pose a real problem; we see here that the Law and Heaven and Earth are connected – when one passes, they both pass.
Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but fulfill” – The use of the terms “the law” and “the prophets” indicates that what the Lord is speaking of in these verses is the whole of the Old Testament. If you trace these terms through your Bible, you will find that wherever this expression is used it includes the entire Old Testament:
Luke 24:44 (NKJV) Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”
The “law of Moses”, “the prophets”, and “the psalms” speak of the entirety of the Old Testament.
The phrase “till heaven and earth pass away” refers to the duration of the whole Old Testament’s authority. So, Jesus is saying that not a single item of the Law – the Old Testament – will ever be changed until heaven and earth pass away. Is that what Jesus said? I think it is!
Let’s look at verse 18 in several other translations to make sure that we understand what is being said:
Matthew 5:18 (NIV) I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
Jesus says here that until heaven and earth disappear, not one bit of the law will disappear until it is all accomplished. Is that what it says?
Matthew 5:18 (DNT) For verily I say unto you, Until the heaven and the earth pass away, one iota or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all come to pass.
Matthew 5:18 (GWT) I can guarantee this truth: Until the earth and the heavens disappear, neither a period nor a comma will disappear from Moses’ Teachings before everything has come true.
Matthew 5:18 (NCV) I tell you the truth, nothing will disappear from the law until heaven and earth are gone. Not even the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will be lost until everything has happened.
Jesus said that he didn’t come to destroy the law but to fulfill it. What does it mean to fulfill the law? The word “fulfill” is from the Greek word pleroo. Matthew uses this word seventeen times, and in fifteen of them it clearly refers to prophecy being fulfilled or coming to pass. The law, which we read in the Old Testament and everything that has been said by the prophets, was going to “come to pass” down to the minutest detail. And until it was all fulfilled, it was binding on the people of God.
Matthew 5:18 (NASB) “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.
None of the law was to pass away until it was ALL accomplished. All of the law being accomplished would include all of the Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled. Would it not? All of the prophetic scriptures had to be fulfilled. This included the prophecies of the New Heaven and Earth. The New Covenant is always associated with a New Age. This new age would not come about until all that the prophets had spoken was fulfilled.
Isaiah 65:17 (NKJV) “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
This prophecy had to be fulfilled before the law could pass away. Until God created a new heaven and earth, the old covenant remained in tack, every bit of it. So, if we are not living in the New Heaven and Earth today, then we are under the law, every bit of it. But I know of no Christian who would say that ALL the Old Testament Scriptures are binding on us. If they did, they would have to be keeping the Sabbath, and the feasts, and they would have to be sacrificing animals. Are we bound by the Old Covenant Law today? No! Hopefully, we learned in our last study that we are not under the law. And if we are not under the law, then heaven and earth must have passed away.
Jesus said that “all” the law had to be fulfilled. This would not only include all prophecy but it would include all the legal mandates of the law. The penal aspects of the law would have to be fulfilled before it could pass away.
Isaiah 34:4-5 (NKJV) All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; All their host shall fall down As the leaf falls from the vine, And as fruit falling from a fig tree. 5 “For My sword shall be bathed in heaven; Indeed it shall come down on Edom, And on the people of My curse, for judgment.
This is Biblical language to describe the fall of a nation. It should be clear that it is not to be taken literally. God says, “His sword will be bathed in heaven,” then explains what He means by saying, “It shall come down on Edom.” The NIV puts it this way, “My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; see, it descends in judgment on Edom, the people I have totally destroyed.” So, God speaks of His sword being bathed in heaven, meaning the nation Edom, not the literal heaven. Edom shall be rolled up like a scroll.
Let’s look at one other Old Testament use of this language:
Hebrews 1:10-12 (NKJV) And: “You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. 11 They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; 12 Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail.”
These verses are a word for word quotation from Psalm 102. If all we had was the prophecy of David in Psalms 102, we might think that this is referring to the physical earth. But, the New Testament gives us insight and illumination to the Old Testament.
How is the world or the heavens and earth of old going to perish? David said, in Psalm 102:26, “They shall grow old like a garment,” and then they would be ”changed.” Is it just a coincidence that the Bible speaks of the passing away of the old covenant using the same language?
Hebrews 8:13 (NKJV) In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
The same Greek word palaioo which means: “to make worn out, or declare obsolete” is used in Hebrews 1:11 of the heavens and earth and 8:13 of the Old Covenant.
The writer of Hebrews teaches us that the “Old Covenant” and the “Heavens and earth” are synonymous.
John Brown said, ” ‘Heaven and earth passing,’ understood literally, is the dissolution of the present system of the universe, and the period when that is to take place, is called the ‘end of the world.’ But a person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament Scriptures, knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic economy, and the establishment of the Christian, is often spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the creation of a new earth and new heavens” (vol. 1, p. 170)
Believers, if we don’t understand the biblical use of “heaven and earth”, we will not understand Jesus’ words in:
Matthew 5:18 (NKJV) “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
And if we don’t understand these words of Jesus, we will end up in confusion like the Commentator who, commenting on this verse, said, “In saying ’till heaven and earth pass away’ – the most stable of all created objects – Christ affirmed the unchangeableness of the Law.” That is not at all what Christ meant!
Matthew 24:35 (NKJV) “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
Jesus uses the same Greek word (parerchomai) here for “pass away” as he did in Matthew 5:18. So, in Matthew 5:18 he says that heaven and earth will pass away when the law is fulfilled, and in 24:35 he says that heaven and earth will pass away, but His words will not pass away. So, Jesus’ words would last forever, but the “Law” and the “heavens and earth” would pass away.
Believers, we are to live by the words of Jesus Christ, which will never pass away. Jesus brought in the New Covenant, which is an everlasting covenant. The old is passed away, and we live in the New Covenant age.” The above is a brilliant study by David Curtis.
These are from my personal study.
Let’s look now at Matthew 9:
9 Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2 Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”
4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7 Then the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God,who had given such authority to man.
When the scribes challenged Jesus about his ability to forgive sins by saying only God can forgive sins, they were actually saying they had the monopoly to do so. This is because forgiveness of sins was only available to the Jews from the temple. Since they are scribes, they knew the Law and how the whole process of bringing a lamb or bull was to be carried out.
As such to the teachers of the Law, forgiveness for only attainable in the temple. That is what the Jews meant by “heaven”. The temple was “heaven” on earth where God dwelt.
When Jesus said “the Son of Man has power to forgive sins, ON EARTH”, he meant that God does not live in that temple any more and He was in Jesus. Jesus said “destroy this temple and I will build it in 3 days”.
When Jesus said “he had power to forgive sins on earth” he meant he has power to forgive sins in Israel. That is what he meant by “on earth”. When the temple was destroyed in AD 70, Israel also seized to be a nation. As such “heaven and earth passed away”.
When that happened, righteousness through the law was replaced by righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ.
Matthew 5: 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
Jesus said these words thereafter:
Matthew 24: 34 Truly I say to you, this [x]generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
The things he said regarding what will happen in the generation then was:
15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 17 [h]Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. 18 [i]Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 22 Unless those days had been cut short, no [j]life would have been saved; but for the sake of the [k]elect those days will be cut short.
The abomination of the desolation came in the form a man by the name of Nero, who offered a pig in the temple and persecuted the Jews.Josephus writes about Christians escaping and fleeing to the mountains.
It was the end of the Law and the practice thereof.
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the [a]barrier of the dividing wall, 15 [b]by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might [c]make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.
Dear friends, that is how Jesus became the end of the Law. Now we live in a new heaven and new earth. The heaven is us, the new temple of God, the earth is the Kingdom of God on this earth, while we await his glorious return to transform us and bring us back to his Father’s house.
What about Faith without works?
I too use to be so bothered with this, until I discovered the faith “that does not produce faith” is the Jewish faith as he was addressing the Jews. The faith that produces works is the kind of faith Abraham and Rahab had. Both of them did not believe in the Law of Moses which promotes works. Abraham believed God before the Law. Rahab was a Gentile, she believed by faith. Here’s my study.
After reading James again I realized the primary concern of James was that the Hebrews keep their faith in Christ and that faith preserve over their former faith in the law of Moses.
Check this out. Primarily it was written to Jews and not Gentiles. Where we have gone wrong in reading this is that we have read this with the Gentile mindset. Listen to this:
“ James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations”
Also look at this: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”
So the main aim here to encourage the Jews to keep faith in Jesus. James says here a person must not be double minded. What exactly is double-mindedness?
I believe this admonishment has to do with Law and Grace. Here is how the Lord revealed it to me.
He actually says there are two kinds of law. One is the law of liberty. The perfect law. The word perfect here means “finished”. The completed law. James 1:25. In Chapter 2 he speaks about the “royal law” which is the Law of Moses i.e. “Love your neigbour as yourselves”. He ask u to obey the law of liberty not the law of Moses.
The perfect law or the law of freedom
Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect [finished] law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Notice if you read in context the words “Be a doer of the Word” actually means “obeying the perfect law”.
Now check this out.
The royal law
8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”[b] also said, “You shall not murder.”[c] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
Two different Laws.
The Perfect Law and the Royal Law. What then is the Perfect Law?
Check this out in the Amplified Bible. James 1:25
Amplified Bible (AMP)
25 But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience).
I have always wondered why James uses the word “faultless law” when he wrote this. He encourages one to be faithful and perseveres in looking into it.
22 But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].
Isn’t it interesting that the original meaning for “doers of the Word” in James 1:22 is obeying the message and not working towards something. It speaks of the word “poet”, a person who just flows with the Word.
But why the “faultless law”? We already know the Law of Moses is faultless but why a double emphasis? James tells us that when we look into the faultless law we find liberty. Yet Paul tells us the Law of Moses makes us slaves.
I asked God to show me why the contradiction. This is what He showed me. The word for “faultless” there means “utterly completed” or “of full age” or “perfected”. In other words, “finished”. James is referring to the “completed law”, the Law which is fully fulfilled. He was referring to the finished work of Jesus, the Law of Christ not the Law of Moses.
Dear friends, I believe James was referring to the Law that has been fully fulfilled in us when Jesus died for us.
Paul tells us that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:4).
In the Amplified Romans 10:4 is translated this way: For Christ is the end of the Law [the limit at which it ceases to be, for the Law leads up to Him Who is the fulfillment of its types, and in Him the purpose which it was designed to accomplish is fulfilled. That is, the purpose of the Law is fulfilled in Him] as the means of righteousness (right relationship to God) for everyone who trusts in and adheres to and relies on Him.
James is therefore not making reference to “keeping the Law of Moses” but rather “trusting in the completion of the Law” His Messiah.
Listen to the shift of emphasis here in James 1 right after he asks you to obey the Perfect Law of Christ.
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
This my dear friends here is about the Law of Moses.
He actually says when you obey part of the law of Moses, you are bound to obey the whole part of it.
“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”[b] also said, “You shall not murder.”[c] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.”
Does James ask you to obey this Law? No rather he is saying you are unable to obey this Law. This is because you break one you break all!
What then is the Law he asks you to obey? Let me tell you it is the Law of Liberty. The Perfect Law.
See James 2: “12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
I guess you would agree with me that “the law that gives freedom” is the same as “the Law of liberty”?
Please follow me closely here. This is where it really matters. When James says faith without works is dead, he is actually referring to the original faith of the Hebrews, the Jews. The Law of Moses. That faith is not faith in Christ but FAITH IN THE LAW OF MOSES!
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[e] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.”
“25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
That is the reason why he quotes Abraham and Rahab. Abraham existed before the Law. Rahab was a Gentile who was never under the Law. Both were creatures of the Law of liberty and not Law of Moses. Hence their kind of faith produce works. If your faith is based on the Law of Moses you produce no works, at least not the works that God desires.
Paul says it this way:
2 Thessalonians 1:8-10
New International Version (NIV)
8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
So you can see here Paul and James are speaking about the same thing. Faith in the Law of Moses is nothing. You must believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When you have done that you have obeyed the Gospel. You have obeyed the Law of Liberty.
Jesus obeyed that law for you. He kept the law for you. What he is saying is this “the law of liberty” is the finished work for you. That is why he says faith without works is dead. It is not your work under the law. It is Jesus’s work. The work that comes by faith not faith the obedience of the Law of Moses.
Now look at this passage.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith (the Law of Moses); I have deeds (the Law of Liberty).”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
Hence when James say even the demons believed in one God, he is NOT saying the demons believe in God, but the demons believe in the 1st commandment, here O Isreal the Lord your God is one. That quotation “Believed in One God” in its Jewish context means the demons knows the Law.
21st Century King James Version (KJ21)
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.
5 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
The demons do not believe in the law of liberty, the completed law. John says in 1 John 3:23, that law is the belief in Jesus.
The demons do not believe in that law. You see, John says when you believe in Jesus, he lives in God and God lives in him.
1 John 3:23-24
21st Century King James Version (KJ21)
23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
24 And he that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us: by the Spirit which He hath given us.
Therefore his faith will produce works. This is because now he is God’s workmanship in Christ Jesus. It is God who will produce the deeds. Hebrews tells us the Law only produces dead works.
New International Version (NIV)
6 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,[a] and of faith in God.
However, we are now the workmanship of God in Christ.
New International Version (NIV)
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
God’s handiwork means it is God who produces the works in you. Not you. So faith without works means “Faith in Moses, without the works produced by God!”
Remember James was writing to Jews. Their original trust was in the Law of Moses. That was their faith. The faith that was without works.
Hope that blesses you.
May that answers your questions about what “faith without works” mean. Grace produces the kind of work that God desires, not through the Law but through the Spirit of God.
As you would have known, this is my 7th response to this article who has accused the Grace Movement as a false teaching: http://www.learningfromthemaster.com/apps/blog/categories/show/1666488-grace-movement
Part 1 of the response is here: https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/grace-teachers-are-not-false-messiahs-grace-is-not-a-false-movement-1/
Part 2 of the response can be found here: https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/myths-that-itching-ears-want-to-hear-grace-is-not-a-false-movement-2/
Part 3 of my response can be found here:https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/penalties-and-repentance-grace-is-not-a-false-movement-3/