This Justification By Faith issue has caused lots of problems over the years. Many arguments have ensued on the issue.
I have personally had this conversation with many people and I’ve heard all the arguments.
With all due respect, the basic argument behind people supporting justification by faith alone is that they don’t want to do anything.
Most of them will bring up the impossibility of doing commands and the general burdensome, guilt-ridden nature of being told you have to do stuff.
Many have the idea that grace means no strings attached, no change needed, and certainly no good works.
Salvation is a gift of God’s grace. We receive it by faith. You cannot earn salvation. You do not merit salvation.
This does not mean that there is nothing you do to get it though.
The only people truly consistent on this issue are Calvinists. They will flat out tell you that God regenerates you and then you believe.
Their confident argumentative bluster does not replace the fact that there are no verses that say this and plenty that say the exact opposite.
Grace has provided salvation through Jesus Christ. A lost soul seeking to be saved from sin would respond to that gracious salvation with love, faith, the desire to obey, and the desire to tell others about it.
If you resist the idea that your faith has to include love, telling others, and obedience, you should ask yourself why the resistance?
I have heard people confidently tell me “I don’t have to do anything. Christ did it all.” It sounds nice, but why do you have a desire to do nothing?
I have heard people boast that “it doesn’t matter what I do; it only matters who I am in Christ.” Again, sounds nice, but why don’t you want what you do to matter? What is it you’re doing that makes you not want to count that? Why do you not want to do what Christ wants?
The arguments always boil down to a it doesn’t matter what I do foundation. The arguments tend to give the idea that if I have to listen to God, I’d rather be unsaved. Listening to God comes across as a giant burden, a total fun ruiner.
Which is all curious.
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
–1 John 5:1
OK, we’re probably all good with John’s words here. See, faith is what saves. Just believe in Jesus!
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
–1 John 5:2
1 John 5:2 comes right after 1 John 5:1. Notice how John is tying believing in with loving in these two verses? Again, you’re not justified by faith alone. You are at least justified by faith and love. How do you know you love God? Because you feel like you do? Because you say you do?
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
–1 John 5:3
1 John 5:3 comes right after 1 John 5:1-2. Loving God means keeping His commandments. In John 14:15 Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” No one likes this definition of love!
We think love means squishy feelings and happy thoughts. To Jesus Christ, love means doing the right thing. Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but love rejoices in the truth. Do the truth.
If your objection to my take on justification includes a reluctance to obey Him, you need to ask yourself why.
Why are God’s commands grievous to you? Grievous means burdensome, weighty, and heavy. No fun to carry around.
If you find listening to God to be a burden, it’s because you don’t love Him. If you don’t love Him, you don’t believe Him.
A person who has truly come to the Gospel of Jesus Christ for salvation has done so out of love and faith, with a desire to do what God wants. God provides everything we need to do His commands. We are fully equipped to do what our heart has always longed to do: please its Creator.
There is nothing greater for us to do with our bodies than to use them to serve our Creator. How would that be a burden?
The only way listening to God is a burden is if you are unsaved and have no strength or desire in yourself to do God’s will.
If you’ve spent the majority of your time in Christianity explaining to yourself why your sin is ok and your obedience is unnecessary, there’s a good chance you are not saved.
Again, this is not salvation by works. This is a change of heart that is graciously provided through the power of the Gospel. The new heart desires and enjoys doing the commandments of God.