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Faith and Obedience Part I
It is not understandable to me that so many choose the words of Saul of Tarsus, AKA Paul, over the words of YHWH and Jesus. But in offering the hand of friendship to the followers of Paul, I will not cite Jesus in this article. Still, in the interest of fairness, let us take a look at the issue of “faith alone” with the primary verse(s) Paul and his followers use to substantiate the claim that it is “faith alone” that YHWH and Jesus are interested in.
Many who claim “faith alone” like to cite the following from Paul: Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness (Galatians 3:6 KJV). It is undisputed that Paul is referring to Genesis 15:6.
And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
(Genesis 15:6 KJV)
Many may be expecting that I will present my treatise on this verse. After all, this is the anchor for Paul’s doctrine and there is certainly no consensus on the translation of this verse. The DRB, JPS, KJV, LITV, and YLT all translate it differently! Even the Interlinear Scripture Analyzer has a breakdown that reads differently that all of these various translations: “and he-believed in Yahweh and he-is-reckoning her to him righteousness”. The KJV w/ Strong’s numbers shows only four (4) words being translated; yet, the ISA and the HOT all show the verse has five (5) words. For all the reasons listed above I will leave that verse alone and look instead at Paul’s premise that this verse proves it is “faith alone” that is needed to be righteous before YHWH.
The major flaw is that Abraham and YHWH already had a long standing relationship when Abraham was still called Abram; and, it was out of this relationship that YHWH changed Abram’s name to Abraham. Before the reader scrambles to look for proof that Abram had “faith alone” I can save you some time by giving you, literally, chapter and verse on the subject.
Abram was told, by YHWH, to leave his country, his people, and his father’s house. Only by obeying could Abram expect YHWH to bestow the blessing YHWH had promised (Genesis 12:1-4). Had Abram not done as YHWH told him to do he would have gained nothing. Abram had to have faith that YHWH would be true to His word; and, having that faith Abram had to obey and he had to act!
We see then, years before faith or believing was even mentioned, that Abram obeyed YHWH. Next, when Abram arrived where YHWH wanted him, YHWH said He would give that land to Abram’ descendants. So Abram built an altar for YHWH (Genesis 12:7). There is still no mention of faith or believing; but, now in addition to obedience we see Abram’s “works” starting already.
When Abram moved again he built another altar to YHWH and he “called upon the name of YHWH”. The word translated as “called” is also used for proclaimed, announced, preached, etc. Again, there is no mention of faith or believing but a lot of “works”.
After a lot of traveling, and being very blessed (Genesis 13:2), we see Abram returned to an altar he had built for YHWH and continued “calling upon the name of YHWH” (Genesis 13:4). Again, there is no mention of faith or believing but a lot of “works”.
When the blessings on Abram and his extended family (Lot, et al.) grew so large that they started having conflicts Abram was so gracious and generous that he let Lot choose the most fertile land and Abram went the other direction (Genesis 13:9-12).
After Abram had moved yet again YHWH reminded him that He was still going to give all the land to him and also said that he would have countless descendants. Abram then built yet another (the third) altar to YHWH (Genesis 13:14-18). Again, there is no mention of faith or believing but a lot of “works”.
In Genesis 14:18-24 we find that when Abram was victorious in battle he tithed of all the goods he had gained in battle to the high priest of YHWH - who then blessed Abram - this is long before the “law” of tithing was written down. We also see that Abram was so gracious and generous he even returned property to others who had been defeated by his own enemies. Again, there is no mention of faith or believing but a lot of “works”.
All of this is long before the verse (Genesis 15:6) Paul and his followers cite as saying Abraham proves we are saved by faith alone! Abram had not only faith but obedience, and even works - a lot of them, for years before the events in Genesis 15:6.
What is more is that the when all this took place Abram was still Abram. Paul and his followers do not even get that right. It was not until much, much later that YHWH changed Abram’s name to Abraham and made His covenant with him (Genesis 17:5).
The problem then, in a nutshell, is that instead of following Jesus - who is “The Cornerstone”, many people have chosen to follow Paul and his doctrines. Paul built his “faith alone” doctrine attributing an Old Testament verse to the wrong man and claiming it has a meaning it cannot have. It should be obvious to all but the blind that Abram had lived his life with so much faith and obedience and works that YHWH chose to rename him as Abraham. It has never been, and still is not, about “faith alone”.
Some may point out that if Paul was wrong for alluding to Abraham in Genesis 15:6 then so was James. First, neither were Apostles, so their words are subservient not only to Jesus’ words but also those of the Apostles and the Old Testament Prophets. Second, two wrongs do not make a right. Third, it has been posited that much of what is written in James was in response to, and against, Paul’s false teachings. Jews would have known the difference. Gentiles, on the other hand, probably would not have been familiar enough with the Scriptures to have known the difference; and, if James had alluded to Abram he would have been confusing them further. Fourth, James does refer correctly to the works of Abraham (James 2:21).
James also correctly reminded folks that YHWH called Abraham his friend (James 2:23 referring to Isaiah 41:8). Did YHWH do this because of faith? No, YHWH said:
For I know him. He shall teach his sons and his house after him, to keep the way of YHWH, to do righteousness and justice; so that Jehovah may bring on Abraham that which He has spoken of him.
Again, there is no mention of faith or believing; only of obedience and “works”. YHWH even tested Abraham to see if he would remain obedient (Genesis 22:1). In fact, point blank, YHWH says it is Abraham’s acts and his obedience:
And He said, I have sworn by Myself, declares Jehovah, that on account of this thing you have done, and have not withheld your son, your only son, that blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand on the shore of the sea. And your seed shall possess the gate of His enemies. And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Because you have obeyed My voice.
(Genesis 22:16-18 LITV)
YHWH reiterated this point to Isaac:
Because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
(Genesis 26:5 KJV)
Sadly, most who blindly follow Paul instead of Jesus will, at best, just pick a different “cornerstone” set of verses to “prove” “faith alone”. Most will be too blind to see that proof against the error of “faith alone” is rife throughout the Old and New Testaments. Since I said I would not cite Jesus in this article I will only, and briefly, cite more Old Testament examples here. Part II will address the issue from the New Testament.
To keep it simple just look in Nave’s Concise Topical Bible and compare the citations given under “Faith, instances of” and compare those citations with those under “Obedience, instances of obedience”. They are almost identical. Noah did not just have faith - he obeyed and acted, and built the ark. Moses did not just have faith - he obeyed and acted - too many times to cite here. Joshua did not just have faith - he obeyed and acted, e.g. in the conquest of Jericho (Joshua 6). David did not just have faith - he acted, e.g. and killed Goliath. The list of well-known Old Testament characters that had faith and obeyed and had works could go on - Daniel, Ezra, Jonah, etc. Even less well-known characters demonstrate the concept that faith and obedience and works are inseparable - Amaziah (2 Chronicles), Rahab (Joshua 2), Manoah (Judges 13), etc.
Paul’s attempt to anchor his doctrine of “faith alone” to the Old Testament Scriptures is a complete and utter failure for anyone who knows or studies the Old Testament Scriptures. That is why the Jews, who did know the Scriptures, rejected Paul. Of course many of Paul’s followers will just say the Scriptures are not relevant anymore. Perhaps not for the followers of Saul of Tarsus; but, they certainly are for the worshippers of YHWH and all who follow His Son, Jesus the Christ. Part II will address how even the New Testament also proves “faith alone” is invalid.
Thank you for joining me on the Path to Light.
In Brotherly Love,