For most people like me who were involved in christianity, there was a massive emphasis on faith. Debates about it, denominations and movements about it. Definitions of it and how to use it. On and On… In fact, it is proposed that faith is the difference between Jesus and the Torah, or Old and New, or jewish and christian. It goes so far that christians actually are led to believe by doctrine that they alone are the actual possessors of this “saving faith”.
For others, mainly people who even study the scriptures themselves, righteousness by faith was clearly predating the “New Testament”. It comes as a revelation to many that Paul himself quotes Genesis and says “Abraham believed God, and it was accredited to him as righteousness”. Different translations word it slightly differently, but the gist is Abraham believed God, and was considered righteous by that belief.
Basic christian concepts equate being declared righteous as the same thing Yah does in “saving” people. Righteousness is “imputed” to them fulfilling some kind of requirements for their status to change.
Faith is not ethereal
Faith in the context of Abraham is really evidenced by his actions rather than some internal thought or commitment. Actions demonstrate belief. Another classic verse used is “The righteous shall live by faith”. Sometimes it is “the just”, or justified. Regardless of the actual context of this verse, the piece of it quoted here is used even in the apostolic scriptures by Paul/Shaul as evidence that within the good news of the Kingdom itself, righteousness is revealed as being by faith. In the Apostolic writings, James slams this home with the famous “Faith without works is dead” statement. The evidence of faith is action. Abraham demonstrated his confidence in Yah by DOING.
Faith and works are inseparable. The works of a person, or their actions, reveal where they are at.
James also states a very interesting concept, yet does this in a very weird way. To me, this drives home the idea of what we do as the reality of righteouness vs simply something we say or believe
James 2:19 (NKJV) 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble!
Think through this a bit….
- You believe there is one God: Either this is simply basic monotheism, or something more. I suspect it is a reference tot he fundamental tenet of Israel which is the Shema, the greatest commandment. It is the declaration that YHVH is ONE, and that you should Love YHVH with all your heart, soul, mind etc…
- You do well: This is a good thing. In fact Yeshua confirms this is the GREATEST COMMANDMENT.
- Even the demons believe this… The things Yeshua casts out of people. The supernatural beings who live in essentially rebellion to the Kingdom of YHVH. By doing well, following the GREATEST COMMANDMENT, you are at the same level as demons.
- And Tremble: This is the only time (in the greek version of the NT) the word is used. The word seems to mean being scared like when your hair stand on end.
- Looking up the Greek word in the Septuagint tells us what translators used the Greek word for a Hebrew word (click here). The Septuagint uses the word twice, Jer 2:12, and Daniel 7:15 which is an Aramaic word.
- The Hebrew word means to be very afraid, and also a whirlwind. I would say this is like when you are scared and possibly disoriented or even dizzy.
Why does this make them afraid to the point of their proverbial hair standing up on end? Because they are unable to do anything abut it. They “believe it” in their “mind”. They even know it to be true. And their lack of repentance, their inability to respond with the appropriate action renders them unable to resolve the problem. YHVH is ONE. Mighty, certainly. But there is NO OTHER MIGHTY ONE. Any variant of ONE you try to use (quantity, quality, unity etc…) results in a sinking, foreboding feeling to a demon. I believe that is because they simply will not, or cannot respond in repentance to this reality. They cannot put action to their belief. In this case, they cannot back up their faith with anything meaningful enough to reconcile the issue.
The next series of verses, and the supporting context of the whole concept follows
[Jas 2:20-23 NKJV] 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.
So essentially, my take is:
You state that you believe in the fundamental and greatest commandment of the scriptures, the Shema. And this is great. It puts you on the same level as the demons. They agree with you on this, and are scared out of their wits about it because they cannot produce any works consistent with this.
Should you be concerned?