The driving interest of every believer should be the glory of God. This is no less true, and more true, in the case of His work in the plan of redemption and in the individual’s salvation.
How is God most glorified in salvation? By doing it all himself. Placing some of the motive, some of the means, some of the merit for salvation in the hands of sinful man robs God of glory. This is the duty of the believer, then, to acknowledge God’s preeminence, his sovereignty, his glory, in salvation.
“Merit” figures prominently in discussion about salvation, and who is to be justified before God. The Reformation principle solus Christus — Christ alone — is still relevant today, when individuals and groups of Christians look around to assign merit to many things other than, or in addition to, Jesus Christ.
Does Mary provide merit? Do the saints? Does the individual believer provide anything of merit toward the person’s salvation? According to Scripture, none of those do. Only Jesus has merit necessary for justification. There is no other name under heaven…Acts 4:12
Because God justifies through faith alone, we must repent and believe (Romans 3:21-30).
How is a person justified? By grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone. So said the Reformers, and the reformed. When we say we are justified “by faith alone,” we mean that works have no part in our justification.
Because God has spoken, we must not raise earthly powers above God’s word.
The Reformation principle of sola scriptura — Scripture alone — is still relevant today. The Roman Catholic church continues to give equal weight to the Bible and to the pronouncement of church councils. Further, protestant churches increasingly depart from the authority of Scripture, relying upon conventional wisdom, personal opinion, and cultural dictates.
The church needs to consistently promote the authority and the sufficiency of God’s word.
If failing to do the right thing is sin, then we’d best have some idea what the “right thing” is.
The problem is that our attitudes toward sin are, well, sinful. We suppose that since we don’t habitually murder, rob, and steal, we don’t have much of a sin problem. But God has a much broader view of sin. He is holy, after all.
The Christian life is not simply a matter of avoiding the “wrong thing,” especially the “big” wrong thing, such as murder or robbery or theft, but of doing the “right thing,” and we’re told, in James 4:17
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
James is concerned that the believer’s faith result in good works, because all living faith works. Only a dead faith produces no works, no good deeds, and James wants believers to know that living a life pleasing to God, and delightful to us, requires that we not only refrain from bad deeds (sins of “commission,” those we commit), but that we not refrain from doing good deeds (sins of omission, duties or expectations or commands that we omit).