Discuss “faith” and “works” in Paul
(especially in the letters to the Galatians and to the Romans) and James. Be sure to cover the following points:
What does each of these theologians mean by those terms?
How do the respective social and historical contexts of the two Pauline letters shape his argument?
What are your conclusions about the circumstances to which James is a response?
How do you encounter these issues of “faith” and “works” in your own life or ministry?
Each of my kids has a marble jar in our kitchen. When they do something good or helpful for the family, whether it’s helping a sibling or unloading the dishwasher we put a few marbles in the jar with their name on it. When the marble jar is filled we celebrate with a trip to Chucky Cheese or another fun outing. I have even gone so far as to have BIG marbles that if the kids are good for dad when I am at work they get a BIG marble and that means I will find something special to do with just them. I can’t stop thinking about the marble jars in relation to Paul and James and their thoughts on Faith and Works.
When reading through Galatians and Romans I was inspired with the idea that none of us really NEEDED a divine marble jar to receive salvation. And what charged me so much is all the people I have encountered in life who think that way. Be it the atheist who feels that they are a good person who does good things so they don’t need a relationship with God or the self-righteous religious fanatic who condemns everyone else who doesn’t follow the letter of the law and thinks we are all going to hell. Paul states it very clear to the people he was speaking to, that one can only be justified by God’s grace, which is received by faith and works (the marbles) were not required. (Romans 3:28, 5:1)
To clarify his point further, Paul explains that to be justified means to be in a right relationship with God. (Galatians 2:16, 3:24) Justification is closely related to