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James-Paul In Three Areas

Discussion in 'Christian Debate Forum' started by RichardBurger, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. RichardBurger

    RichardBurger New Member

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    James and Paul differ in three areas, salvation, prayer, and healing:

    James and Paul on salvation:

    The most serious area of disagreement between James and Paul is their explanation of salvation. James indicates that good works must be added to faith to produce salvation.

    James 2:17-20
    17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
    18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
    19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble!
    20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
    NKJV

    Paul gives a different explanation of salvation. Paul not only teaches that works are unnecessary for salvation, he specifically excludes works from the salvation process.

    Romans 4:4-5
    4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
    5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,
    NKJV

    These two explanations of salvation are in conflict. What makes the disagreement between Paul and James even more perplexing is that both men point to Abraham as a validation of their teaching.

    James said in James 2:21-22
    21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?
    22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
    NKJV ------ Please note that according to scriptures Abram was accounted as righteous before God long before Isaac was even born. Yet James points to Abraham works many years after the birth of Isaac.

    Paul said in Romans 4:2
    2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
    NKJV

    This difference is answered by understanding that James was describing the salvation requirements for his Jewish audience (the circumcision), while Paul was describing the salvation requirements for this age of God's grace which is both for the Gentile audience (the uncircumcision) and the Jews. They each point to Abraham as an example, but use different events from Abraham's life to support their teaching.

    Romans 3:29-31
    9 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also,
    30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
    31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
    NKJV

    IMPORTANT It is significant that between the two events referred to above, another very important event took place in Abraham's life. In Genesis 17, God instituted circumcision as a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant. Paul uses Abraham in uncircumcision as an example of justification "through faith" without the works of the law. --- James uses Abraham in circumcision as an example of justification "by faith" plus the works of the law. Paul discusses and explains this dual fatherhood of Abraham in detail in the fourth chapter of Romans.

    James and Paul on Prayer:

    James and Paul also disagree on prayer. James presents prayer as a way to receive physical blessing from God if you obey the law and ask for the proper things.

    James 4:2-3
    2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.
    3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
    NKJV

    Paul presents prayer as a way to maintain spiritual stability in our lives regardless of the physical circumstances in which we may find ourselves.

    Philippians 4:6-7
    6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
    7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
    NKJV

    James indicates that God will give his readers the desires of their hearts as long as those desires are in keeping with God's law. Paul, on the other hand, indicates that whatever the desires of our hearts are, God's response is always the same, peace. The response that Paul promises involves provision for our hearts and minds, not our bodies. It is not a promise of physical provision as was James' promise to Israel.

    The examples of prayer used by James and Paul illustrate the differences in their teachings on the issue.

    James 5:17-18
    17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.
    18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
    NKJV

    A detailed study of the example given by James shows what is in accord with the principles of the law. Elijah was prophesying during the reign of wicked King Ahab. (See I Kings 16:30-33) In response to the king's wickedness, God shut up the windows of heaven just as he had promised in the law. (See Deuteronomy 28:23,24) James presents an example of prayer in keeping with God's instruction to Israel under the law.

    Paul's teaching on prayer is best illustrated by an example from his own life.

    2 Corinthians 12:7-9
    7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.
    8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
    9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
    NKJV

    As Paul prayed about his thorn in the flesh, nothing about his physical circumstance changed. The only thing that changed was Paul's reaction to the circumstance. He changed from desiring the thorn to be taken away to glorying in it. His prayer had changed his heart and mind. This is the prayer promise God gives to the Body of Christ in the Age of Grace.

    James and Paul on healing:

    The final area of difference in the teaching of James and Paul is healing. James gives the following instructions about healing.

    James 5:14-15
    14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
    15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
    NKJV

    As with all of James' instructions, his pattern for healing is in perfect keeping with the instructions given to Israel in the Law of Moses. Below is God's instruction in the law concerning the healing of leprosy.

    Leviticus 14:15-18
    5 And the priest shall take some of the log of oil, and pour it into the palm of his own left hand.
    16 Then the priest shall dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand, and shall sprinkle some of the oil with his finger seven times before the Lord.
    17 And of the rest of the oil in his hand, the priest shall put some on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on the blood of the trespass offering.
    18 The rest of the oil that is in the priest's hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed. So the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord.
    NKJV

    The pattern of anointing with oil by the spiritual leadership is the same as described by James. Not only is the leper's disease healed, but also atonement is made for his sin. James' instructions about healing also promised that the sins of the person healed would be forgiven when God raised him up.

    However Paul’s epistles about healing is II Corinthians 12 quoted earlier. In that passage Paul did none of the things that James instructs. He did not call for the elders of the church, he was not anointed with oil, and he was not raised up. Not only did Paul not follow the instruction of James for himself, he also did not recommend it to other members of the Body of Christ.


    When Timothy suffered an infirmity in the flesh, Paul recommended medicine.

    1 Timothy 5:23
    23 No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities.
    NKJV

    When Trophimus, one of Paul's ministry partners, was sick, no anointing or prayer for healing was ordered. Paul was forced to go on without him.

    2 Timothy 4:20
    20 Erastus stayed in Corinth, but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick.
    NKJV
    God gives no promise of physical healing for the Body of Christ through Paul as He did for Israel through James. In fact, Paul tells us that we must wait for the redemption of our bodies. (See Romans 8:22-25)

    When we rightly divide the Word of Truth, the conflict between Jame's and Paul's instructions concerning healing is easily resolved.
     
  2. Paul

    Paul Member

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    Well rich, our perspectives on James are different and that will not change, especially on the works issue. I do not think it would serve any purpose for me to address it again.
     
  3. fivesense

    fivesense New Member

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    Ga 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

    Ga 5:5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

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

    Ga 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

    The lack of knowledge concerning who we are in Christ is a major hindrance to this topic. Paul is unequivocal about the need to become a totally new creation, not a creature, but a new creation. Ktisis in the Greek. The Jew must be regenerated and born again, his flesh needing to experience that which pertains to the earthly covenant of his fathers. We are the new humanity, being conformed to the image of Christ, beholding His face as in a mirror from glory to glory. It is not about flesh, it is about a totally new spirit being to come, which we will put on at His return to meet us in clouds.

    The eyes that have not been opened to this spiritual truth remain in flesh, seeking to justify and harmonize the word of God to make it "all fit", when it does not. Only in Christ, as new creations, do the scales fall off, and the eyes gradually begin to see the whole picture. The flesh promises are to Israel, the heavenly blessings are ours in Christ already. Israel shall rule over the nations, and we will not be here to participate, unless it is in spiritual bodies. This is so obvious in Paul's writings that looking closely should sting the eyes and suspend thought in awe and reverence for God.

    Those who are set free to become mature sons of God, are apt to be disturbed and despised by those who are not. Ishmael through name alone became a father of many princes, but without the blessing of Abraham. So too, those who seek the wealth of the Father, without the stronger desire to realize Who He truly is. They may amass a good deal of knowledge, but the promise of adoption and sonship is far from their experience.

    fivesense
     
  4. Paul

    Paul Member

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    fs, have you ever read James? Find one time in James where he mentions "circumcision." What examples of "works of the law" does James mention. What examples of works does James use. They are all good deeds, helping those in need. That is what James is talking about as "work" in his letter. Read the letter written by James sometime. He is talking about lazy Christians, that do not help out their fellows.
     
  5. brionne

    brionne Active Member

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    Hi Richard,

    This is the same argument that many use to show how the two differ in teaching. But in fact, they are speaking about different 'works'. Paul is speaking about 'works of the mosaic law' and James is speaking about the 'good works' that we individually are motivated to do by our faith.

    At Romans 3:20 Paul says " Therefore by works of law no flesh will be declared righteous " So Pauls words are clearly with reference to the Mosaic law for he says 'works of law'

    If you look at the context of James letter to the congregations, he is clearly speaking about practicing goodness and showing kindness...these are things that christians were expected to do out of faith and love for God which is why he says 'faith without works is dead'

    At James 2:21-26 he uses Abraham & Rahab as an examples of the type of works he is speaking of.
    21 Was not Abraham our father declared righteous by works after he had offered up Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 You behold that [his] faith worked along with his works and by [his] works [his] faith was perfected,... 24 YOU see that a man is to be declared righteous by works, and not by faith alone. 25 In the same manner was not also Ra′hab the harlot declared righteous by works, after she had received the messengers hospitably and sent them out by another way? 26 Indeed, as the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead"

    Neither Rahab nor Abraham were practicing the mosaic law...yet both were declared righteous by their personal good deeds (works) which showed they had faith.
     
  6. RichardBurger

    RichardBurger New Member

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    Would you care to comment on the other two areas, prayer and healing?
     
  7. brionne

    brionne Active Member

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    The purpose of James letter is completely different to Pauls writings to the phillipians.
    There were some serious problems in the congregations that james wrote to. Its evident from his letter that some christians were not practicing christianity but were ignoring even the simplest aspects such as showing love and helping the needy.
    James spoke about those christians prayers going unanswered because God does not answer such ones. They were asking for their own selfish desires to be filled rather then anything to do with God and his will.

    Here is a short rundown on the letter of James by The International Critical Commentary
    “The only sure source from which men can always receive is God. By choosing pleasure as their aim, men cut themselves off from this source, for they do not ask God for gratifications such as these, or, if they do, only find that their prayers, aiming at their own pleasures and not at his service, are unacceptable, and that they ought not to have offered them.

    “James’s principle is: Make the service of God your supreme end, and then your desires will be such as God can fulfil in answer to your prayer (cf Mt. 631-33). Then there will be none of the present strife. Pleasures war, and cause war. Desire for pleasure, when made the controlling end, leads to violence, for longings then arise which can only be satisfied by the use of violence, since God, from whom alone come good things (117), will not satisfy them.”


    Basically, when your service to God is your main focus, then your desires will be in harmony with that service rather then on your own selfish desires. Those christians were asking for selfish things...they were not praying in the spirit of Gods will nor for the benefit of fellow believers so their prayers were going unheard and unanswered.


    Paul on the other hand was teaching in the same manner of Jesus for he told his apostles: “Pray continually, that you may not enter into temptation.” Likewise Pauls teachings reflected this by his repeatedly urging those to whom he wrote to pray and to continue in prayer.

    The purpose of the two was completely different. They compliment each other though because Jesus was a man of prayer, he relied on God and the degree of his prayerful attitude was evidence of that. Praying to God is beneficial to building a relationship with God, it keeps us focused on God and it gives us an opportunity to relieve ourselves of the pressures which burden us. God will not always give us everything we ask because often we ask for things that are not in our best interest...sometimes we do ask for our own desires to be filled which is what James was talking about.... but God will not answer those prayers and God should not be viewed as a magic token by which we can get anything we want.

    We are here for him so our prayers should reflect our desire to please him and do his will....when they do, then he will hear and answer us. But with other things that we may be suffering with (such as Pauls thorn in the flesh, or Jesus cry to have the cup removed from him) they are things that we must endure for they prove our faith and love for God....and when we pass through such trials, God blesses us and gives us his spirit.



    Again, there is no conflict. James and Paul are discussing different types of sickness and healing.

    James is speaking about spiritual sickness - Paul is speaking about physical sickness.

    James 5:13-14 says "Is there anyone suffering evil among YOU? Let him carry on prayer. Is there anyone in good spirits? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is there anyone sick among YOU? Let him call the older men of the congregation to [him], and let them pray over him..."
    The fact that James contrasts being sick with being in good spirits plainly indicates he is dealing with spiritual and not physical sickness.

    A spiritually sick person may have become that way due to trials or sufferings and the encouragement is to go to the 'older men' of the congregation because these ones are spiritually strong enough to help the person thru praying with him and giving him instruction from Gods word that will build him up.
     
  8. RichardBurger

    RichardBurger New Member

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    You said "what examples of "works of the law" does James mention? Seems to me that having to do good deeds comes under the law "

    Leviticus 19:18
    18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
    NKJV

    Paul uses the word "circumcision" to describe "those under the Law of Moses."

    He uses the word "uncircumcision" to describe "the Gentiles who were not under the Law of Moses."

    As for me I have certainly read the book of James. Enough to write about it and post it on this forum under the title "was James confused."

    You seem to think your fellow Christians are lazy. there is no way to get around the fact that you are judging the children of God.

    Romans 14:4-6
    4 Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
    5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
    6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.
    NKJV
     
  9. fivesense

    fivesense New Member

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    The proclivity to esteem one's own thoughts as inspired of God because of immersion in Bible study and command of memory leads to overconfidence. The ability to submit to one another in the fear of the Lord can be seen in the heart that has been wounded and healed by a Power much, much larger than itself. Where there is the absense of this crisis, where the crushed and broken spirit has been lifted on high as a gratuity of the Merciful God, there is only a parade and hypocrisy. The son of God must endure these, so that the true faith can be seen and embraced by those who are the called and chosen of God.

    The inability to correctly divide the word of truth results in continued elementary understanding of the "New Testament", a veil that cannot be removed outside the supernatural hand of God removing the blinders of tradition and sectarianism. May the Lord grant all here to recognize the significance of heeding Paul, our Apostle, above the rest of the authors in the Book.
    fivesense.
     
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