Are the Jewish Epistles for the Body of Christ?

by Jerry Shugart

Works Required for Salvation?

Pastor Paul Sadler teaches that those who received the Jewish epistles could not be saved apart from works:

"We should add that the gospel of the circumcision and the gospel of the kingdom are inseparably bound together. Both are based upon a 'performance system.'It is this program and message that James was laboring under when he wrote his epistle...According to James, Abraham served as a 'pattern' to the circumcision that faith and works were 'required' for salvation under their program" (Sadler, "Studies in the Epistle of James", The Berean Searchlight, January, 2006, 8,10).

Despite these clear words of Pastor Sadler which assert that "works" were required for salvation for those who received the epistle of James he contradicts his own words when he says at another place that those who lived under the same program were saved when they believed and after that they could not lose that salvation. First he says:

"The Lord said to Nicodemus under this same program, 'That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life' (John 3:15,16). Those who believe in Him here are said to have eternal life. We know from the record that Nicodemus responded to the Master's words and received eternal life" [emphasis added] (Sadler, "The Life and Letters of the Apostle Peter", The Berean Searchlight, August, 2002, 10).

Surely Pastor Sadler's words here cannot be misunderstood. He is saying that those who "believe" in Him are said to have eternal life and Nicodemus received eternal life because he responded to the words spoken by the Lord Jesus. Pastor Sadler then says that this same method of obtaining eternal life is also true in regard to those who received the Epistle of James:

"When the Word of the Lord, in conjunction with the conviction of the Spirit, pierced through the darkness of Nicodemus' heart he responded in faith and was wonderfully saved! This was also true of those to whom James was writing, which in their case gave them the privilege of being called the 'first fruits of God's creation'" [emphasis added] (Sadler, "Studies in the Epistle of James", The Berean Searchlight, November, 2005, 9).

Pastor Sadler says that Nicodemus was saved when he responded in faith and that is also true in regard to all those to whom James was writing in his epistle. Pastor Sadler makes it plain that they were saved by the Word of God, writing that "Not only were they saved by the Word of God, they were to make an application of it in their lives" [emphasis added] (Ibid., 10).

Pastor Sadler refers to those who received the Jewish epistles as "kingdom saints," and he says that once saved they could not lose their salvation:

"While there are those who believe the kingdom saints could lose their salvation, we are not of that number" (Sadler, "The Life and Letters of the Apostle Peter", The Berean Searchlight, August, 2002, 10).

If words have any meaning then we can understand that Pastor Sadler teaches that once the "kingdom saints" believed the Word of God then at that moment they were saved and they could not lose that salvation. That leaves no place for "works" of any kind contributing to their salvation in any way. That completely contradicts Pastor Sadler's assertion that "faith and works were required for salvation" in regard to these people.

We can know for certain that those who received Peter's first epistle whe "born again" and saved when they believed the gospel which Paul first preached:

"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, b>by the word of God...and this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Pet.1:23,25).

That is exactly the same way that those who received the epistle of James were saved:

"Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures" (James 1:18).

The Jews who believed the words of the Lord Jesus received eternal life and were saved by faith and faith alone, as witnessed to the following words:

"Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life" (Jn.5:24; NIV).

J.C. O'Hair wrote, "The statement of our Lord Jesus Christ, recorded in John 5:24, should certainly give assurance to any one whose trust is in the Word of God...The believer has eternal life. The believer shall not come into judgment. The believer has passed out of death into life. Most certainly God wants believers to have a positive 'know so' salvation, the real assurance of salvation. Hear God's own Word:

"'These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the Son of God.' I John 5: 13.

"The Greek word, translated 'know', is 'iedo', and the other definition in the Greek dictionary is 'perceive' and 'to be sure'. Can you not see then that God wants you to know, 'to be sure', that you have eternal life; because you believe unto the salvation of your soul. You did not obtain your salvation by earning it or by laboring for it. Neither do you retain it because you are paying for it with your good works" (O'Hair, THAT YE MAY KNOW THAT YE HAVE ETERNAL LIFE; "Bible Study For Bereans"; March 1936).

Despite the fact that the Lord Jesus' words at John 5:24 proves that the Jews who "believed" were saved by faith alone. Pastor Ricky Kurth, the editor of The Berean Searchlight, has the following to say about that:

"But Abraham was not only the prototype for Hebrew salvation, he was also the model for Hebrew security. Abraham was saved by simple faith in Genesis 15. But would his faith pass any test that God might give him? Only God could know, of course-and God did know! Abraham would still have to pass the test of offering up his son, but if God did not know in advance that he would pass this test, then it was presumptuous for Him to impute righteousness to Abraham in Genesis 15" (Kurth, "Secure or Not Secure? That is the Question!", The Berean Searchlight, March,2004, 19).

According to Pastor Kurth's ideas the only reason why God could save the Jews by simple faith initially was because God knew in advance that they would pass any test which is given them. Since Pastor Kurth's ideas here refer to "Hebrew salvation" let us look at the life of Peter and determine if he passed every test which he was given:

"But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" (Gal.2:11-14).

Surely Peter did not pass that test because he wilfully disobeyed the truth that had been revealed to him. If Pastor Kurth's theory is correct then the Lord Jesus would not have granted eternal life to Peter. Besides that, if God had to know in advance if a person would do any required "works" before He would justify them then that justification could not be said to be "apart from" or "without" works. However, Paul makes it plain that David was justified "without works":

"But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin" (Ro.4:5-8).

According to Pastor Kurth's ideas David's justification was dependent entirely on God knowing that he would do works in the future so his justification cannot be said to be "without works."