Justification by Faith and Love

Martin Luther told us we are justified by faith alone, something the Bible never says. But for some reason we are adamant about going with Luther’s take. Even people who otherwise can’t stand Luther go with his take. Bizarre to me.

I believe the Bible says we are justified by faith and faith includes several things. I believe love is another of those things that determines whether you have true, justifying faith. This may, in fact, be the  biggest thing your faith needs for you to be saved.

God is not impressed by outward actions, nor does He take professions with the mouth all that seriously. God judges people by the heart. Israel brought sacrifices to God and sang nice songs and said nice things about God, all things God told them to do, but He rejected them because their heart was not near Him. They didn’t love Him.

External obedience in doing what God said to do still might not demonstrate justifying faith. You might just be following your training, your group, or your traditions. You might be doing it out of pride or reputation. Maybe it’s guilt and you’re trying to work off sins. Listening to God (faith) without love for God is not listening to God.

Faith and love are huge words in Christianity. A faith that doesn’t work is no faith at all. Faith that justifies works.

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
–Galatians 5:6

Faith works by love. This means love is a thing that makes faith work and faith works loving things. True faith works together with love.

Merely nodding your head to the facts of the Gospel does not save a person. It’s more than just an intellectual agreement with facts. It’s a change of heart, a response to God’s love that responds in kind. We love Him because He first loved us. He first loved us when, while we were sinners, Christ died for us.

And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
–1 Corinthians 13:13

You’ve heard this verse hundreds of times, but have you ever thought about it?!

Love is greater than faith? 1 Corinthians 13:2 says if you have all faith, even to the extent that you could move mountains, it does you no profit without love.

There are many who say they believe in God or in Jesus Christ, yet their “faith” shows no signs that they love God, or Christ. “If you love me, keep my commandments.” True faith operates out of love. Love for God will keep you obeying God. Faith and love need each other. Faith does not stand alone.

Faith without love is no faith at all. It is an unprofitable faith. Even the demons believe in God, but they certainly don’t love Him. Demons are not saved even though they have faith. Faith without love is a huge problem.

Love is a really big deal with God. He doesn’t want intellectual assent; He wants you to love Him in response to the great love wherewith He loved us.

If you love God and the Gospel of His Son Jesus Christ, your faith will work things in you that are consistent with that love. Faith works by love and love is greater than faith.

When Jesus Christ was asked what the greatest commandment was, He did not say “Believe in the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind.” Nope. He said, “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind.”

Love is a big deal. You’re fooling yourself if you think love has nothing to do with whether you are saved or not. Your faith better have love with it. Not a squishy feeling kind of love either, but a love that keeps His commands. That’s true love and true faith. They work together.

4 thoughts on “Justification by Faith and Love”

  1. This is a very good PRACTICAL ongoing series, when so much Christian discourse I come across seems to be airy-fairy head-in-the-clouds stuff, it’s refreshing to see something that brings the Christian life back to reality.
    The faith is so often “over-spiritualised” in a way that has nothing to do with everyday living or the here an now. Too often present day realities are trivialised and covered over with a religious veneer, under which our shortcomings are hidden from God (As we are led to think!).

  2. I agree. Everyone who argues against the points I’m making here tells me about yielding, and not doing but being, and let go and let God, and other sorts of Keswick Theology, Deeper Life, you do things by not doing them, weirdness. None of it makes biblical sense as they have to deny and hundreds of times we’re specifically told to do stuff in the Bible, and none of it makes any rational sense. My attempt is to take the plain simple words of the Bible and actually go with them. No one wants to do anything, nor deal with the fact that they aren’t doing anything. So we invent a doctrine that tells us not doing anything is actually what God wants. Nice.

  3. So we invent a doctrine that tells us not doing anything is actually what God wants. Nice.

    The main role of a lot of theology seems to be creating explanations for why the Bible doesn’t really mean what it’s saying, including the “fact” that God doesn’t want us to do what He wants us to do.

  4. Indeed. I find it humorous when people use Scripture to prove that we don’t have to listen to Scripture. If we don’t have to listen to it, why use it to prove that we don’t have to use it? It’s all very weird to me.

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