Bob found this pamphlet we have by Michael Pearl called “Justification and the book of James” and we’ve been reading it. Interesting. He makes the case that Biblically, “justification” doesn’t (or at least, doesn’t always) mean “made right.” It means “proven.” There are scriptures that speak of God being justified; obviously He isn’t made right, but rather is shown to be right. So Mr. Pearl goes on to say that our works are simply proof of our faith. Okay, so far it makes sense and I’ll buy it. But his conclusion has left me quite frustrated.
He says that a saved person will have a new nature that naturally wants to do the right thing. That any time we have to “try” to do right then we are not in God and we are trying to add to our salvation or something. He likened it to hanging apples on a tree as opposed to letting an apple tree grow apples.
Forgive me, but I have to work at doing the right thing. My nature would have me eating cookies and reading or playing games all day, with the occasional walk outside (in nice weather) to poke a few seeds in the ground and call that “gardening.” I don’t WANT to do dishes or vacuum, and I sure don’t want to be nice to other people; they should leave me alone and let me indulge myself.
So does this mean I’m not really saved? Mr. Pearl would imply so. But on the other hand he deplores those “faith and works” salvation people who don’t ever know if they are saved. Faith only people know they are saved because they have believed and that is enough. Big sigh. I know I believe. I know Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He came to earth as a baby, lived sinlessly, died in my place, rose again to earth and then to Heaven, where He sits at God’s right hand. I believe that. And Biblically, having believed and confessed that truth, I am saved. So a great big raspberry to Mr. Pearl, and I’ll keep trying to please my Father because I ought to, even if I don’t want to.