Deeds or Creeds
Deeds or Creeds? Works or Words? Behave or believe? How do they all come together?
A popular Jewish writer, whom I would agree with on many social and political issues, has written that the difference between his faith and Christianity lies not in the place one might expect. But it is found in the distinction between “deeds and creeds.” I will quote his own words:
“Whether or not Jesus was the messiah or not is not the most important question that divides Judaism and Christianity. The major difference between Judaism and Christianity lies in the importance that each religion attaches to faith and actions. In Judaism, God considers people’s actions to be more important than their faith; acting in accordance with biblical and rabbinic law is the Jews’ central obligation. As Christianity developed, however, it did away with most of these laws. And faith became its central demand.”
So, he agrees and admits that his faith, or Judaism, fosters performance-based acceptance with God. And that Christianity does not. Essentially, then he would agree and therefore his faith would also, that they are antagonistic towards “pure grace.” Now James is supposed to be a part of the “works” crowd calling for the return to Biblical law in the New Testament. But listen to what he says about this in his epistle:
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
But many times, people neglect to tell the truth about James. For he was there in Jerusalem and spoke to the entire assembly there just as Peter and Paul did:
After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name.
He agreed with Peter’s previously spoken words:
And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.
James and Peter agreed with Paul in declaring that: “We believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” Which literally translated from the Greek is: “But by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we believe to be saved in the same manner as they also.” The important thing to see is: ‘we believe to be saved.” This is the track of grace and true salvation.
But what can be missed often is that such an act of faith is not in words or an expression of thoughts. It is more. It is in the embracing of a person or a personality. This means more than just to believe a set of objective words. More than merely mentally agreeing with doctrines and/or having a satisfaction in the form of truth. John said it in his 1st epistle:
1 John 5:12
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Paul said pertinent things in this regard:
1 Timothy 1:12–15
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
2 Timothy 1:12–14
….. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
Creeds can be empty and hollow shells without substance. Deeds or works can wearisome and futile as well. It is only as we fully embrace the one who gives strength, who cleanses the innermost wounds, who forgives and forgets every transgression that we discover the unbridled potential and joy that comes from heaven’s king alone.
Lord Jesus, we marvel that our salvation lies first in a coming to you. You hold the keys to death and life. You alone heal the wounds, remove the guilt, and save our souls. Without you, it is just vanity and vainglory. We choose you. Creeds and deeds will flow in our lives, when we truly embrace you. As you came into the world to save, come into our lives and save all who call upon you. Amen!!!
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