Why should evangelicals embrace a paradigm shift from a strong emphasis on self-righteousness to a total reliance on the grace, mercy and the love of God? Could it be that current evangelical dogma and doctrine is a mixture of “the leaven of the Pharisees (Matt 16:6&12”) and the “strong delusion” of 2Thess 2? Actually, I believe that it is very likely that the above mentioned prophecies are directly responsible for the impossible mixture of law and grace, and the preaching that always puts law and obedience above grace.
There are many breaking away from this over the last few years. One might even suggest that there is a spiritual movement to embrace God’s love and grace, and to renew the gospel of grace to a prime place of importance that is gaining impetus among Christians. Basically, this movement creates a division in the body of Christ between those who emphasize scripture passages that promotes grace and those that emphasize scripture passages that appears to promote law and obedience.
Two passages that appear to conflict and contradict each other are Galatians 2:16-21 and James 2:12-26. I would ask you to read both to yourself… out loud and slow, and try to get the context of what each author is writing to. What exactly are they saying? Here is what you will find in my view. Paul is speaking of works of the law or law obedience, and James is speaking of works of love or good works. There is a big difference between the works that Paul writes about and the ones that James addresses. James agrees with Paul about works of the law or law righteousness. Read James 2:12 & 13 carefully. James speaks of the perfect law of liberty and insists that mercy always triumphs over judgment. Paul is speaking of legalistic obedience to the law and James is speaking about works that will be the result of completely believing the gospel message… works that are motivated by love for God resulting from God’s unconditional love and grace.
James idea of good works is very narrow in scope and limited to feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, providing shelter to the homeless which is consistent with Matthew 25:31-46 and Isaiah 58:5-8. The good works that allows our light to shine before men is lovingly caring for the less fortunate. These are the works that the church should be busy with and are the works that show that faith is alive.
Here is proof that current evangelical doctrine is off the mark. Their idea of doing good works is based on being obedient to the law in a fleshly manner… in other words, having a read and do mentality, or a legal constitutional reading of scripture. This is not what either Paul or James was advocating. So then, if this was not what Paul and James meant and it is clear that it was not then, is this not just another proof that current evangelical belief is in error? If it is in error… then shouldn’t it be the goal of all evangelicals to search out and find a doctrine that lines up better with what the scripture actually says?