Fr. Dale Matson
You are probably thinking, Fr. Dale, you must have meant to say, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (James 2:17, NASB). Well, I did not intend to say that but it is true also.
I am actually more concerned that the contemporary church is replete with works but the works are devoid of faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6, NASB).
Faith requires an object and for Christians, this is Jesus the Christ. Historic Heresies are continually reintroduced into the church and are fashionable again today. The central issue of Christian faith hinges on the person of Christ, who for Christians is the object and center of their faith. Many heresies attempt to dehumanize Him on one side and strip Him of His divinity on the other. He came to reveal the Father and if we lose sight of Him, we lose sight of the Father also.
There is one work in particular that concerns me and that work is Justice. “What should we say, then? That the gentiles, although they were not looking for saving justice, found it, and this was the saving justice that comes of faith; while Israel, looking for saving justice by law-keeping, did not succeed in fulfilling the Law. And why? Because they were trying to find it in actions and not in faith, and so they stumbled over the stumbling-stone-“(Romans 9:30-32 NJB).
If our faith is not connected to Christ, we do not even understand justice. Justice is considered one of the four cardinal virtues of the church. Justice does not begin with what we believe our rights are. It begins with what the rights of God are and what God has declared that we deserve. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). God has determined that we deserve damnation in Hell for eternity. That is where justice begins for us and it is difficult to hear. A grace disconnected from this understanding of justice does not appreciate the mercy of God nor does it comprehend the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Justice first and foremost respects the rights of God; of what He is worthy to receive because He is God. We are to love Him before our neighbor or ourselves. Justice centered only on the rights of humans becomes relative, situational and confused.
“Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?’ And then will I profess unto them, ‘I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.’” (Matthew 7:22-23, NASB). Amen.