Nowadays, minus the temple, there is no way for Jews to perform their sacrifices. I am sure that they have used some of these same scriptural quotes to justify their position, that the sacrifices weren't really needed in the first place. The problem for them still would be that there is no remission of sins without the sprinkling of blood. The Christian followers have not ceased from the sprinkling of blood, it is that the blood now is the blood of God's chosen one, the sacrifice He Himself provided as with Abraham, Jesus Christ. His sacrifice is once and for all and complete.
There are times in all Christians lives where they miss the mark, where they become drowsy or sloppy or unfruitful even counter productive. There are times even when we shake our fist and blame God (as in the death of our young child). We have all encountered times when we wondered if this draw back passage wasn't written for us. Self condemnation can be a tremendously discouraging thing. I would imagine however, if it is still in your heart to get back to the things of God, if there is still the will to repent and rejoin the body in fully restored standing, if the love of God is still wanted and sought after, then you definitely have not crossed this final point yet. This is written for the man where there is none of crushing sorrow, confussion and desire that remains, he has completely given himself over to his own condemnation, forever sealed in the hardness of his own heart.
Faith is most commonly defined as something we believe or hope for. Here it is better defined as something that totally moves us and shapes the course of things to come, a leaving of ourselves to commit/pursue the greater promises laid before us. Faith is a both a destination and the road/process of getting there. It is it's own country.
I have often look at this definition of faith as if it was me looking out into life's vastness and seeing the evidences of what I hope; if I looked hard enough and sincere enough I would see actual proof. Suddenly I have considered that it may well be intended to be the reverse. If I truly believe, the activities of my life will naturally become living proof that I believe; my faith will become evident. I have faith despite the appearance here of things, I live forward out of trust. Like Abraham, others can discern that I believe by the manner I proceed in trust and obedience, what I am willing to sacrifice, how and where I am willing to sojourn, what spiritual promises I am willing wait long past my physical death patiently for and how such waiting guides me. Faith is not a collection of scientific insight, it is a substance born of hope.
Those of us in the American church body should be concerned about the lack of chastisement. Where is it? We face certain opposition and the opposition seems to be growing. Opposition is not chastisement. In other places our missionaries face difficulty and persecution. Persecution is not necessarily chastisement either. Chastisement involves correction. Is it that we have nothing to be corrected of? Is it that we have been corrected and so now remain? Or could it be that our hearts have become hardened, that the accomplishments of the past have sent us sideways into pride, unawares or worse unconcerned, unable to discern where our needed chastisement might be found? Has our ear to it become deaf?
Mentioned more than once is the idea of remembering/submitting/saluting those that have rule over us. These rulers by context are sensed to be leaders in the church. The author speaks in tones of a absolute necessity. Who are these leaders today? and why are we not doing so?
There is an eternal salvation and justification accomplished on our behalf strictly by the work of Jesus Christ our savior at the cross of Calvary. No other work can replace that. What James means by works leading to justification here is similar to what the author of Hebrews meant by 'the evidence of things unseen/substance of things hoped for' ( kjv@Hebrews:11 ), the effect faith has in producing corresponding action. It is difficult for one man to justify that another man has faith if their is no tangible evidence outwardly of said faith. It should be just as difficult for us ourselves to justify our reasoning for believing in Christ if we yet disallow His natural effect upon us causing us to act forward in a new and living way. If our faith leads us to no more than what faith in any other god would lead us to do or not do, what justification would we have for such faith? The question then must be asked 'how much does Christ's redemptive work on the cross mean to us personally'? 'To what extent does it/will it effect us'? Jesus called it 'abiding in' and Peter called it 'being neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ'.
So this is where Paul twice and the author of Hebrews once get "the just shall live by faith". Now we have the original context. Given our tendency to box God into the corners of what we think He should and should not be doing, given our blindness to everything except what is immediately before us, given our own personal track record and what we ourselves are being chastised over, we if seeking through this to become just should live by faith. kjv@Romans:1:17kjv@Galatians:3:11kjv@Hebrews:10:38
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