14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!
So often through the scriptures, people (even the disciples) ask “either/or” questions. Yet, countless times God’s word throws humanity for a curve ball. We always expect the simple “it’s this way or that way” answer, but God challenges us one step further. I have added scripture links throughout this post so that the Word of God can shine and that it’s not my answer.
Recently another question arose that was similar to the question posed in James chapter 2. The question was:
“What is more important, Salvation or Free Will?”
Needless to say, that’s a tough question. On the one hand, it would be easy to say “salvation” is more important because it’s the gift of eternal life. The argument then becomes, well why didn’t God just make us all “saved” and forget about the free will if His desire is for everyone to be in relationship with Him?
If we focus on the question alone, that’s where we miss the important message. I had the opportunity to go through a study called “The Truth Project” that helped focus on how to study the Word, as well as teaching Christians how to think outside the box that we’ve put God in.
Mankind was God’s shining creation that He wanted to display His glory through us. He didn’t do that for the angels. According to scripture, Angels are ministering spirits to those that believe. Yes the Angels proclaim God’s glory, they serve God “day and night,” but unless I’m mistaken…there’s no scripture that talks about the Angels “loving” God. That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love everything He created…but Love is something that is a result of a choice, not just a requirement or something forced.
The Word says we are co-heirs with Christ. That means we, as believers, are a part of His family. The angels cannot claim that. In Heaven we will share, with Christ, all that Heaven has. We will sit on His throne with Him. The angels were created to minister to God and man, but we won’t be angels in heaven, we will have new bodies and new life.
So yes we’ve established that Man has choice and the angels don’t have free will. Let’s define “salvation” then.
Yahashua (spelled different depending on translations) is where we get “Jesus” from. Yahweh means “He who causes to be” …or more simply, He’s the creator. Yahashua means “He who comes in the name of the one who causes to be.”
More literally, Jesus’ name is literally translated as “salvation.” Throughout all of scripture Jesus claims that He is salvation. Not once does He say that there’s any other way to get to God. So in laymen terms Jesus=Salvation.
So the question then becomes, what is more important to God, Free Will or Jesus? In reality we only have to get beyond one obstacle of faith to allow the truth to settle in. Yes, by all means God could have forced us to be just like the Angels, no suffering, no trials, no choice. The reality of the matter is that God didn’t do that. Not God couldn’t do that…God chose not to do that. He allowed contrast (good and evil) so that we would know the infinite depth of God’s goodness. He allowed it so that we would have a way to understand WHY we need Him, not just THAT we need Him.
So here’s the kicker:
Love is the component that is missing from the original question. One would argue that God doesn’t love man because He sends people to Hell and didn’t just save everyone. Hell was created for Satan and people choose that. God did not choose that for us. So by creating us in His image, gifting us with the Holy Spirit, and desiring to bring us as close as possible (within the trinity of God), He is demonstrating one of the key characteristics of who He is. God IS Love. Christ IS Love. The very character of God IS Love. So that being said, there’s one more piece that can answer the “what is more important…free will or salvation…and it’s in one simple passage of scripture.
English Standard Version (ESV)