Thursday, August 29, 2019

FAITH AND WORK WITH OLD TESTAMENT EXAMPLES

Faith and works with Old Testament examples



The 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

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