James and Justification by Faith

Does James 2:24 require us to modify the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone? It reads, "You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." Roman Catholic theologians insist that this text expressly denies the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone, and that justification is by both faith and works. Reformed theologians have argued that James, when properly understood, neither modifies nor contradicts Paul's doctrine of justification by faith alone (see table at end of article). In a nutshell, James and Paul address two different questions and are speaking of two different kinds of faith and two different kinds of justification. Agreement Between Paul and James We learn much about the relationship between Paul and James in Galatians 1-2. In a meeting with the leaders of the Jerusalem church, Paul tells us, "I ... set before them ... the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain" (Gal. ... Read more

Justification: Its Necessity and Grounds

We need a "New Perspective on Paul," or so a number of New Testament scholars have claimed in recent decades. The "New Perspective on Paul" (NPP) has impacted Pauline interpretation at many critical points, creating controversy particularly in its recasting of the doctrine of justification. While the leading proponents of NPP do not all agree on the precise shape of Paul's doctrine of justification, they do all agree that in some measure the Reformers and the teaching of the Reformation, as reflected in the Reformed confessions and catechisms of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, erred in understanding Paul's doctrine of justification (and thus in formulating their own doctrine). Many NPP adherents, for instance, dispute the historic Reformed contention that the justification of the ungodly is a central concern for Paul. Some promoters of NPP apparently want not simply a rereading of Paul, but a rereading of the whole Bible. It is quite true that Luther and the other Reformers focused particularly ... Read more

The Other Justification by Faith

Jesus says in Luke 16:15, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly exalted among men is detestable in God's sight." In this article, I want to tell you: what justification is, what justification by faith is, and what the other justification by faith is. Primarily, I want to warn you about the other justification by faith. You have been rescued from it, but even today it is haunting you and trying to work its way back into your life. What Is Justification? Justification is the act of declaring someone just. To be just is to be righteous—that is, to have right standing. This is what happened in an Old Testament court. If a man was found to be guilty of a crime, then the judge condemned him. If a man was found to be innocent, then the judge declared him to be such. The judge didn't make him guilty or innocent, wicked or righteous. He just declared him to be what he was. What Is Justification by Faith? ... Read more

A Fresh Perspective on Jesus Christ

Hundreds of bumper stickers proclaim, "God loves you." Some of them add, "And so do I." Love is great and love is grand. Best of all, you can find biblical support for such sentiments. Paul says, "Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor. 13:13). Peruse the gospel and epistles of John and hear him say, "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (1 John 4:8). Yes, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). John is one of the gospels, but it is not the only one. It may be the most popular part of Scripture today, for many insist that it is the most powerful tool for bringing people to Christ. After all, people need to hear the good news that God is love. If you want to introduce a potential convert to Jesus Christ, the door through which to travel is the one that proclaims LOVE. The gospel of John is not the first book in the New Testament. ... Read more

Turning Points in American Presbyterian History
Part 2: Origins and Identity, 1706-1729

American Presbyterianism officially began in 1706, when the Presbytery of Philadelphia held its first meeting. But some accounts of the Presbyterian Church in the New World speak of Presbyterian congregations going back into the seventeenth century. For instance, several churches on Long Island trace their origins back to the 1640s. The very first Presbyterian minister in New York was Francis Doughty, a New England Puritan who in 1642 came to New York because of differences over the practice of infant baptism. Doughty represents the dominant strain of Presbyterianism north of Pennsylvania. It was heavily influenced by, and oriented toward, Puritanism and its practical brand of Christian devotion. In fact, New York's earliest Presbyterian congregations in eastern Long Island originated when Puritans migrated from New England into the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam in search of greater prosperity. The most obvious difference between Puritanism and Presbyterianism had to do with church government. As ... Read more


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