The previous post Stuck in the Gospels mentioned Paul’s primary message of the indwelling Godhead. Recognizing the difference between the external Christ of the Gospels and the indwelling Godhead from Paul’s letters, helps us know God’s perfect plan for us.
Christ in us is grace. An external Christ is not God’s ultimate plan for us. God came to be in us, His loved ones.
None of the other writers of the New Testament were given this revelation to Paul from Christ (Gal 1:12). In that context then, on what basis did they write? They wrote from the view of an external Christ with an emphasis on law and works.
These contrary views of law versus grace are evident in the church, where there are many misstatements like the following: “God hits a moving target.” This means that you must initiate something before God will respond-the Godly quid pro quo.
That’s Biblically illiterate, for “We love, because He first loved us.” “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me.” God initiates everything. He is the First Cause.
It is true that God responds to peoples’ quid pro quo, but not as you might expect.
God rejects deals-He does not barter [though some may believe He does]. The quid pro quo is the old way under law, not the way of His indwelling grace.
The church has, to our detriment, mixed law with grace. This is the reason for our continued enslavement to sin. A derivative of this is that the church has correspondingly mixed two contradictory views about justification into one, when they do not and cannot fit together. What we have done actually harms and confuses us.
James repeats three times that a person is justified by faith and works (James 2:21, 24, 25). He even goes so far as saying that works complete faith. In other words: faith is not enough. Yes, even Christ is not enough, in this line of thought – works are necessary to make faith complete (James 2:22).
It may even sound wise: “You have to do something – you just can’t sit around!”
But, saying this is the same as saying that God is not enough, that we must help Him.
In contrast to James, Paul says, “If Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about, but not before God (Romans 4:2).” The boast? “I did God a favor – now He owes me!”
Paul reviews the true basis of justification: “(26) To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus. (27) Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? No: but by the law of faith. (28) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:26-28
God must be both just and our justifier. Any boasting from us by works is excluded from the law of faith – God does not allow works to have a part! Justification is by faith alone through grace alone. And if it’s not, then grace has lost its meaning.
“And if it is by grace, then is it no longer by works: otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is by works, then it is no longer grace: otherwise work is no longer work.” Romans 11:6
God does not allow the mixing of grace and works (law)! He forces you to declare your loyalty: trust Him completely to justify you, or trust yourself to impossibly and perfectly follow 613 laws.
There is no mixing of the two. “The law is not of faith: but, The man who does them shall live by them.” Galatians 3:12
Those who choose self justification, instead of Him, loose everything:“You who are justified by the law have been cut off from the Messiah; you have fallen from grace.” Galatians 5:4
If works are necessary to make faith complete, then law is being preached! Co-mingling law and grace thwarts God’s plan for you. God’s grace is all or nothing. To be ignorant of the Person of grace in your life means that you will be stuck sinning by following external law, the message of Romans 7.
James and Paul do not say the same thing about justification, however desperately some may want them to. James perceived his audience to be only the Jews (James 1:1; Gal 2:9), not the Gentiles. Paul, however was sent to both (Acts 9:15). When the apostles in Jerusalem were trying to help the new Christians at Antioch deal with the Judaizers, Peter said, “Don’t put a yoke on them that neither we nor our forefathers could bear (Acts 15:10).” That yoke was the law. The Law is holy, righteous, and good – it’s just that we were never made to live by external laws. By law, we can only die (Rom 7:5, 9-11).
We live by the indwelling Christ (Gal 2:20-21) through the new creation-Him and us. Justification and grace and life are solely by God through Jesus Christ. Our purpose is to share His life, that He may be manifested through us (2 Cor 4:10-11).
We cannot be justified by works, nor do we get glory by our works.
“But God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.