Faith and works with Old Testament examplesThe Apostle James starts out by saying, "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works." I like the last words --- I will show thee my faith by my works. Of course I will write about this in more depth after I quote the entire passage.James goes into a different subject saying it is true that you believe in one God but so do the devils and they tremble so it would have to be overwhelmingly obvious that there is far more to the Christian life than believing in one God. Then James actually goes back to the original subject in essence writing you are a vain person if you just say there is one God with no works because it renders our faith as dead. Good point because demons are fearful at the name of Jesus Christ but are the most evil creatures in the universe.James then goes into an example in the Old Testament regarding the life of Abraham because he stepped out in faith when he offered his son Isaac upon the alter. This is an example of faith and works together because it was his obedience (works) that made his faith perfect. He believed God and it was imputed unto him for righteousness and as a result he was a friend of God. A true Christian will be recognized and justified by his or her faith and works or obedience to God. I think it is ridicules when a person says, "I am a Christian" and does not talk about God nor does anything for Him. We will know a true believer in Jesus Christ by their fruits.James also gives another example about the life of Rahab the harlot who was justified by her works (obedience) because she received the messengers and sent them another way for their own safety. Our body without our spirit is dead but in like matter our faith without works is dead. Let me quote the original text so you can read this passage and perhaps make reference to it in this particular study of the Bible.(18) Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. (19) Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (20) But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? (21) Was not Abraham our Father justified by works, when he had offered I'-saac his son upon the alter? (22) Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? (23) And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. (24) Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (25) Likewise also was not Ra'hab the harlot justified by works, when she had sent them out another way? (26) For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." James 2: 18 - 26.Some people are satisfied with a mere profession of faith and honestly believe they are truly saved in and through the Person of Jesus Christ. James is saying that this type of faith is false and their heart is dead to any real godliness. Does the word authentic come to your mind? If a faith is prideful in and of itself without works this is not only deceitful but selfish. It totally throws out the will of God and traces back to self which Jesus Christ Himself is opposed to because two of our characteristics need to be faith and obedience to God.We need a faith in the Son of God because this is the steppingstone to works (obedience). Do you think we are going to be in heaven saying, "Yes I will do that but no I will not engage in this task?" The Bible says we need to be fit for the kingdom of God. Our life should reflect on what we will be engaged in for all eternity now while we are still on earth in these fleshly bodies. We do not even have to make a profession of our faith in Jesus Christ if true obedience is manifested in our lives as Christians. We can if we are talking the talk and walking the walk but if we do this always point to the Person of Jesus Christ. Our works will speak for our faith in Christ. This is one of the main themes of the entire Bible that people can judge themselves and others by the fruit they bear outwardly from their hearts. Jesus Christ will look at the outward evidence of our lives from our inward hearts and proceed with an exact measured judgment that will last forever.The demons know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and yet they tremble at His name. If we have faith without works we would not be true Christians. Almost every time the word believe is used in the New Testament it is in the action tense.The true believer in Jesus Christ is going forward in obedience to God and His will. An intellectual belief alone is nothing more than mere words.We would be miserable if we did not have works that follow true faith in God. If we stopped at belief in Jesus Christ with no obedience according to this passage of Scripture we would be very similar to the devils from hell. They are not trembling because of a holy reverence and fear for God, they are hating and opposing the one true God on whom they believe but also understand that at a respectful command in the name of Jesus Christ they must flee. This is the real reason they are scared of the Son of God. If the Apostle James is using this very heavy example in comparison to our faith and works to God all the more reason we should have a deep respect for this biblical principle.If pride is involved in boasting of faith without works not only is this person foolish but condemned. I can guarantee you that this individual is speaking about an intellectual belief in Jesus Christ. That is as far as they want to go because there would be a cost to true faith in Jesus Christ.Some people may be saying something to the order of count me out but at least I know where I stand in what the Bible says about a true Christian. I do not even have a clue where I would be as an unbeliever in Jesus Christ. All things would not work out for the good because I do not truly love God and I am not called to His purpose. I could die and certainly would not go to heaven because there would be no true relationship with Jesus Christ. If faith without works is dead then there is no proof that I am a believer in Christ nor have eternal life to look forward to in the afterlife. If you are reading this article I would not try and lie to myself but rather conform to what the Bible is saying regarding who a true Christian is because truth in Jesus Christ is way better than self deception. A justifying faith can not be without works but do it for the right reason of honoring God.The first example that the Apostle James uses is a look at the life of Abraham because he truly believed God the proper way. The faith of this man was a working belief to him for righteousness and as a result he became a friend of God. In verse 24 the Apostle reiterates his point that a person is justified by believing and obeying God or having faith that is productive of good works. People often say that they want the blessings of Abraham but to obtain this one must copy his faith because just being part of his seed has nothing to do with a real relationship to God. True faith is what God commands, not our own world which most people live in which is sad because not only is there self deception but there will be regret for all eternity.If we engage in true faith in God it becomes perfect in the Person of Jesus Christ. It is the same principle in that confidence is acquired by doing. Engaging faith with good works for the kingdom of God for the right reasons will give us the privilege of being friends with God.James writes about a second example and her name was Rahab. Abraham lived a lifetime for God but Rahab did not yet she is mentioned in one of the two examples in the book of James. The moral is the strongest faith or the weakest belief must still have works because this is faith in action. Her life was in danger but she still made a decision to receive the messengers and send them out in another direction. She understood that her heart had many sins forgiven so Rahab engaged in self denial by ensuring the safety of others. She abandoned her past which was a lifestyle of sin and gave evidence of this new faith in God through her works.The last verse is James 2:26 which says, "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." Do you think James is trying to make a point here? Trust me I am the one writing this article and he comes all the way home on this biblical principle many times. This principle also works in the opposite direction because we could have the greatest works with no faith in Jesus Christ and that would also be considered dead. If we do anything that glorifies God through works it is from the true root of our faith in Jesus Christ. Faith without works is dead because it is not producing Godly fruit. Good works are our fruit because of our faith in God. James is saying have faith and works but they must be working in combination with each other to produce the fruit of righteousness.If you are reading this article and do not desire to count the cost of being saved through Jesus Christ consider an analogy that I believe is applicable to this principle. You are really hungry and you see a couple of warn out cookies on the table but someone calls you in to the other room and there is a full course steak dinner on the table. Are you going back to the old cookies or are you going to eat the steak dinner? My point is if we are not going to do this God's way then we are just eating stale cookies through our life but if we are willing to count the cost and live our life with true faith in Jesus Christ and works for the kingdom of God then that is choosing the full course steak dinner for our life and eternity. This decision is substantial because we will be in the will of God. Some may say eating stale cookies is easier but the devil offers you no guarantees because he can promise you nothing. If you do get a morsel from a demon I can already tell you there is some kind of a lie attached to what you received from the darkness of eternity.Now may be a good time to accept Jesus Christ into your heart as your Savior and Lord by repenting of all your sins and inviting the Son of God into your life. I hope and pray you just made that all important eternal decision.God Bless you,Bob D
Thursday, August 29, 2019
Friday, August 16, 2019
Faith without works is dead
The Apostle James starts out by saying not to commit adultery or to kill but he gets more specific when he writes if you do not commit adultery but kill then you are a transgressor of the law. This is James 2:11 but remember in verse ten if we even offend in one point we are guilty of the whole law. This is why Jesus Christ had to come to planet earth to die on a cross. He conquered death by raising from the dead on the third day. All we initially have to do is accept the Son of God into our hearts by repenting of all our sins.
James then writes about speaking and doing and how we will be judged.
The Apostle then speaks some very tough words that a person will receive judgment without mercy if an individual shows no mercy on earth. The good news is mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
I always felt really good when a person put on mercy with me and some of my adverse circumstances because most people do not care about other people. We need to do our best in showing mercy even if we don't feel like reaching out because God and the other person will appreciate that extension on our part. We live in a world that is tired, angry, apathy and preoccupied with our own melodramas but this is all the more reason we should step out of our comfort zone and just let someone know that we care about them and their situation.
James then writes a person can not say he or she has true faith in God and not have any works because the two go hand in hand. James gives an example of seeing a brother or sister naked and destitute of daily food and warns us not to depart without at least trying our very best to meet their needs.
Faith without works is dead. Notice the word faith is mentioned first because true belief in Jesus Christ produces fruit. On the other hand a person can do good works and not be a believer in Jesus Christ. They just never came to know Jesus Christ in a personal way so the key to being in the will of God is first accepting His Son and then allowing the Holy Spirit to show us what to do for God.
I think James phrased it perfect when he said, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." James 2:17. Let me just quote the entire text so you can read it and perhaps make reference to it in this particular study of the Bible.
(11) "For He that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. (12) So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. (13) For He shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. (14) What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? (15) If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food. (16) And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warned and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? (17) Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." James 2: 11 - 17.
Verse eleven is very similar to verse ten. Maybe I should say the same principle is evident in both verses. In verse ten if we even broke one point of the law we broke the whole thing because God gave this to man as a bundle for obedience. Verse eleven basically says if you do not commit adultery but kill someone this person becomes a transgressor of the law. I have a feeling James was trying to repeat his point in verse ten but in a more specific way to make his point. If we offend in one point we have contemn for the authority of God who gave the entire law thus we become guilty of all even if we commit one sin. This is not fairness because the proper word would be justice. If I were driving 150 miles down the road and a policeman pulled me over can I really say but I follow all the other laws?
The Apostle James encourages Christians to conduct themselves by the law of God but through the grace of Jesus Christ. The gospel is referred to as a law because it requires duty, gives comfort and most of all we must realize Jesus Christ is our King to rule, teach and intercede for us to His Father. We are under the law of liberty and this wonderful service is from God. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ and it is perfect freedom. This is the reason we should give it our best to obey God by faith because we are going to be judged by this law of liberty. If our temperament and conversation is Godly we are on the right path of righteousness.
James gets even more specific to be merciful to the poor. If we do not show mercy now we will not be granted mercy on the day of judgment. In simple terms the Apostle is saying if we show mercy now we will triumph at the bema seat which is a judgment for believers in Jesus Christ.
A mere confession of the Christian faith does not make us a true believer in Jesus Christ. According to this particular text that is not true salvation in Jesus Christ. A person is not justified by faith only but by works in conjunction with belief in Jesus Christ. If you do not believe me read the text again because a refusal to move in the will of God is rebellion.
I can hear the questions. Why did the Apostle Paul say that we are justified by faith only and not by the works of the law. Paul is writing about a different type of work than James but not another sort of faith. Different work, same faith because Paul was speaking of obedience to the law of Moses and then gave the gospel of faith in Jesus Christ. James writes about obedience to the gospel after they got saved through Jesus Christ.
Both Apostles had a deep concern to magnify the belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This alone saves and justifies us in our salvation. The Apostle Paul was dealing with people that thought their merit or works were going to save them in the sight of God. The Apostle James was dealing with those that claimed to have faith in Jesus Christ but would not allow works to be used as evidence of their belief in the Son of God. The word belief in John 3:16 is in the present tense which simply means a continual faith in Jesus Christ. It is not a one time thing where we make a decision and then walk away from the faith and say, "O.K I did my part." True faith in Jesus Christ does not work that way. When we get to heaven we will be engaging in some sort of task for the kingdom of God.
The Apostle James was dealing with people who claimed faith in Jesus Christ but set aside the law. The Apostle Paul was dealing with people that did good works but laid aside faith in Jesus Christ. Both of these groups are wrong. Paul writes about being justified in Jesus Christ before God the Father. James is speaking of our faith being justified before other people. At the risk of repeating myself if the word believe in John 3:16 is a continual belief then it would only stand to reason that we as true Christians would be compelled to labor for Jesus Christ for the right reason of doing the will of God.
Working for God could mean being way in the background or in the front but it is for the purpose of getting the gospel of Jesus Christ out to a dying world. There is no profit anywhere if a person says he has faith but no works in response to his or her belief in Jesus Christ. My question to you is where is the faith? According to this passage it could not possibly be in Jesus Christ. I can say I am a millionaire but that does not make me a millionaire. Words without proper responses are destitute and empty.
Love is a biblical principle but so is faith in Jesus Christ. We can say we are a person of love but where is the works to prove our charity. Faith and fruits go hand in hand and are the same principle as love being demonstrated with our hearts to other people in a tangible way. If we have love we will respond with mercy which is evidence of our faith in Jesus Christ especially to the poor.
True faith produces fruit. If we just have a profession of faith and we stop there it is the same thing as saying we are a millionaire and not really having a million dollars. Faith without works is a dead heart and will eventually produce bad fruit. A trained eye will be able to spot faith without works but it will also be able to recognize faith in Jesus Christ with good works to follow which is obedience to God.
If you never initially came to know Jesus Christ in a personal way now may be a good time to accept Jesus Christ into your heart as your very own Savior and Lord by repenting of all your sins and inviting the Son of God into your life. If you just made that all important eternal decision your life will take on a true purpose for God and the Holy Spirit will show you opportunities to do good works because of your new found belief in Jesus Christ. People complain of having no purpose all the time but true born again Christians have a purpose and place in the kingdom of God. All we have to do is follow with simple faith and obedience to God and respond accordingly to people with real needs.
God Bless you,
Saturday, August 10, 2019
The rich and poor living for the glory of God
The Apostle James reminds his readers that God has chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith through Jesus Christ and heirs of the Kingdom which He has promised to them that love Him. It is true most true Christians around this world are poor. If I may when James says, to them that love Him this is very comforting to me because that is the main truth Jesus Christ desires to see in our lives.
James makes a deeper point that it is not even logical to despise the poor because rich people are the ones that tend to oppress you and take you to court. The Apostle also explains that they are in more of a position to slander you because they tend to have power in one way or another. James continues on the subject by urging his readers to fulfill the royal law that they should love thy neighbor as thyself. To put on love to the rich and poor is the answer to the question.
James reminds them that if you have respect to persons you are committing a sin. I have a feeling that something of this reality was happening so the Apostle wrote this to his readers.
Then James quotes one of the most popular verses by saying, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." Let me quote the original text so you can read this passage and perhaps make reference to it in this particular study in the Bible.
(4) "Are you not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? (5) Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him? (6) But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? (7) Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? (8) If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: (9) But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. (10) For whosoever shall offend in one point, he is guilty of all." James 2: 4 - 10.
James tries to explain the gravity of this sin to his readers because some were engaging in this transgression. James was concerned that they would be partial in themselves and then he had a question for them which was have you not made a difference. This is a rare way to explain something but in that difference they were judging by a false rule and advancing in the situation with false measures. The respect of people is owing to the sin and injustice of thoughts because the next part says you have become judges of evil thoughts. A person that does this has unrealistic estimations which alters their opinions and was then invented to themselves. Outward hype can change in one day but inward grace will last forever. Rich men are seen when mercy should be the characteristic that is visible.
James mentions our evil thoughts because sin is never seen until the evil of our thoughts comes out in the form of a transgression against God. If we show respect of persons it is contrary to the will of God. If you judge those who are heirs of the kingdom you are against your brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of the poor in this world are chosen by God. In general those with external advantages do not have as much intrinsic worth as the poor but of course there are exceptions to this rule.
If you are poor in this world and rich in faith through the Person of Jesus Christ then you are in the will of God. What I am trying to say is the poorest may be the richest so why the discrimination. Remember there is time, talents and treasures. The rich is only under the category of treasures and the pastor better hope they are not cheap. Another point I would like to make is they may be far more prone to being stingy with their time and talents. It has been my experience that the poor is far more generous than the wealthy with their time and talents. Ideally the wealthy should be rich in giving and good works. The poor should be rich in their faith along with using their time and talents. They can not help with the expenses because --- no money. One more point in that everybody better be doing these things for God with the right motive. If Christians are doing tasks for the Lord with the wrong reasons involving self will rather than the will of God than it will be thrown out for all eternity.
If the rich or poor accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts they are both heirs to the kingdom of God. Both are in a position of divine love but the key is to love Jesus Christ through our faith and obedience in God. The Apostle James tells us in James 1:12 that there is a crown of life for Christians who engage in this practice throughout their life. We serve an everlasting God who directs an everlasting kingdom so isn't it pretty obvious that riches will fade away and die. If we respect the rich over the poor this sin in light of all the facts will make us look foolish because it will bring us down. We as Christians will not be honoring the worthy name of Jesus Christ.
We need to love our neighbors whether they be rich or poor as ourselves because we are to have constant regard for this rule. This is a lifestyle. This is written in the Bible but the real question is it settled in our hearts? This is coming straight from the King of Kings because it is a royal law. It should be honored without partiality because our judgment before Jesus Christ will be impartial. The rich person will not be able to help us at the judgment seat.
As I look back on my life the poor was far more willing to help me in my troubled circumstances. If we follow the golden rule we teach other people by example to have empathy for all people. Granted some individuals are so rebellious before God that they do not want our understanding but for those that do this it is an opportunity to minister to them with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit working through our hearts.
We can not love our neighbor as ourselves if we are giving special attention to the rich. "For whosoever shall offend in one point, he is guilty of all." James 1:10. This verse is in the context of treating the wealthy with special treatment so if you show partiality in one point then it would be impossible to truly love one another as ourselves to everybody.
I would be lacking if I did not quote this verse the way most Christians do which is if you even sinned one time in your life you broke the whole law. This is how serious God is regarding the subject of sin.
Imagine if you are hanging from a cliff with ten chains but just one breaks. What do you think will happen? You will fall to the ground. If you ever sinned even once in your life you broke the entire law and are a sinner separated from God for all eternity. This is why God sent His Son to planet earth to die on a cross and rise from the dead on the third day. Everybody sinned at least one time so we all need a Savior.
Now may be a good time to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord by repenting of all your sins and inviting the Son of God in your life. I hope and pray that you just made that all important eternal decision.
God bless you,
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