The Monstrosity of a Faith that is Alone

I am currently reading John Murray's Redemption Accomplished and Applied published in 1955 by Eerdmans Publishing Company. This little book (180 pages) is an amazing dissertation on the meaning of the atonement, how it was accomplished, and how it is applied to sinful man. Murray, a Scottish theologian who died in 1975, spent most of his career at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

In Part 2 of this book, Murray explains what he sees as a Biblical sequence, or order, of application of redemption. I highly recommend this little book.

He walks the reader through each of these sequential steps and explains how one follows the other with Biblical evidence. I was particularly struck with this section in the chapter under Justification and wanted to share with you and explain it further.

Quoted from page 131: "It is an old and time-worn objection that this doctrine ministers to license and looseness (he is speaking of the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone). Only those who know not the power of the gospel will plead such misconception. Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone."

This is an argument we often hear and Murray challenges it strongly by claiming those who make this claim do not know the power of the gospel. Those who say that justification by faith alone will lead to a life of looseness, continued living in sin, and an attitude of living free have a point, but it is short sided in that they do not know how this same justifying faith powerfully changes the person.

Continuing with his quote: "Justification is not all that is embraced in the gospel of redeeming grace. Christ is a complete Savior and it is not justification alone that the believing sinner possesses in him. And faith is not the only response in the heart of him who has entrusted himself to Christ for salvation."

So, the believer puts his faith and trust in Christ and then he is done?

Is he complete?

Is his work finished or is more expected?

Is there more to the story?

Murray points to the fact that there is more to the response of faith than just believing.

Will we go on sinning?

Or will our lives be different?

Our faith cannot be alone, there must be a response of holiness and works of the faith along with their belief (James 2:17-20). But then does that mean we are saved by works? Not even close.

Continuing with the quote: "Faith alone justifies but a justified person with faith alone would be a monstrosity which never exists in the kingdom of grace. Faith works itself out through love (Gal. 5:6). And Faith without works is dead (James 2:17-20)."

The so called believer who has faith without works is a MONSTROSITY that can't exist in the kingdom. Faith comes with works. Fruit will follow faith.

Are we without the response of holiness, service, and works of the faith?

Are we a deformed monster that is not actually part of the kingdom since faith cannot exist alone?

Are we living a lie?

Has there been a fruitful response to our belief?

More from Murray: "It is living faith that justifies and living faith unites to Christ both in the virtue of his death and in the power of his resurrection. No one has entrusted himself to Christ for deliverance from the guilt of sin who has not also entrusted himself to him for deliverance from the power of sin. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?"

Wow, do you hear that? No one has entrusted themselves to the deliverance of the GUILT of sin (i.e. forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ) who has not also entrusted themselves to the POWER OVER SIN…or in other terms the power given to us through our faith to NOT SIN. This is awesome. Shall we live in sin then since we are free not to? God forbid! Let it not be so! We must embrace and trust the power we have over sin that comes with our faith and justification in the eyes of God. Because we have faith we will fight the temptations that come and we will wage good warfare against sin (1 Tim 1:18-19). We will also love others, serve others, die to self, and give sacrificially because of our faith. We possess these things as an integral part of our faith. It is the natural response to our faith.

Examine yourself as I examine myself. Are we mutant Christians who have a dead faith because it is without works? Are you a monstrosity in the kingdom of God?

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