Friday, August 16, 2019

FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD

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,
Bob D.    

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