Thursday, May 28, 2009

Faith without works is dead (useless)! James 2:14-26

"Even the demons believe---and tremble" says James 2:19. This is not the only incident where the demons knew who Jesus was and fear came over them.. Read from Luke Chapter 8 verse 28 as it says "When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me."

OK. The reason I shared these two verses with you to start is to help provide some context to the notion that mere intellectual agreement that Jesus is the Son of God and is all all powerful does not mean you are guaranteed a place in Heaven. Believing is not all that is required and this is the theme James is trying to press on..

I guess I should say this before I upset some readers here as some might say I am claiming that the way to Heaven is thru your works.. I AM NOT SAYING THAT!! However I am saying that according to the Bible "the basis for Salvation is by GRACE ALONE through FAITH with WORKS the necessary result thereof.

This issues really riles people up (including myself) because most "Christians" (let me quote the term Christian - because this term is not applicable to all who profess it) are not willing to be called out on "action" resulting from the Faith they claim.. Most are just happy and content with professing the Christian term and mantra but not willing to live a life evidential of that..

Matthew 7:21 says "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
Notice the word "does" above..So just because you call on Jesus to help you out or get you out of predicaments does not ensure your salvation..He says the one who "does" the will of my Father.."Does" is an action verb meaning something has to happen..There must be evidence of your Faith - there are two types of Faith that must be addressed here in order that we do not gloss over the original point of "by Grace alone through Faith". See there is

1. Bogus Faith - Mere intellectual agreement about who God is without a personal trust in Christ - Just like the demons
2. Genuine Faith - This Faith is evidenced by your Fruit( - It is more than an understanding or agreement - It is the root of your transformation. This goes beyond the mind and rears itself in your daily life..For where your heart is, there you will be also. If your Faith is in Christ and you believe He is who He says He is and can do what He says He can..then you will place all your trust in Christ and do as He has commanded you. To live a life patterned after Him.

Let me give you a better example.. Remember the story of Abraham and Issac. God asked Abraham to do what? To sacrifice his beloved son as a burnt offering in the land of Moriah. God asked Abraham to DO something..To slay his son..Not just believe God was God..but to see if the Faith he proclaimed was genuine..God put his professed Faith (belief) to a test of works..and how did this story end? God saw his genuine Faith and "counted him righteous." When reading this particular story something jumped out at me that I have always previously glossed over before. When you get to verse 12 of chapter 22 it says
"He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me."

Dont miss that.. "for now I know". Abraham was not able to just say "Lord Lord", he had to prove his Faith and TRUST in God and His Sovereignty. This leads me to my next point..

Big Question: How do you know you are saved?

If this question were posed to you, what would you say? How would you answer it?

Anyone interested in what Jesus says about this very topic.?. Try Matthew 7:16-17
You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.

Not convinced yet? (although that was Jesus talking, not me). How about Galatians 5:6 " in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love." See working is another action verb..

Or how about 1 Thessalonians 1:3 "remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew 7:26 "And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.

and lets take a look at Job and what he said in Job 31:19,20 "if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing, or the needy without covering, if his body has not blessed me, and if he was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep"
What did Job mean here? He actually helped cloth those who were cold with the fleece from his sheep..He could have said as James eluded to in verse 16 of chapter 2 "depart in peace, be warmed and filled." The point here is that simply praying for someone when you have the means to help them is not enough..You can be like James ascribes and bless them and wish them well but we are to follow a different example and put feet behind our words..

1 John 3:17-18 "But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth"

See here is the deal..Faith if it is a true genuine faith reveals itself in your actions..What you do every day. Faith is the Basis but works are the instruments in which we carry out our Faith.. The two go together much like a car and an engine, or a house and a roof, or a church and a pastor..One without the other makes them useless (dead). What good is a car with no engine..It can not carried out its intended design. What good is a house without a roof.. it would not even be called a house without a roof..again not living up to the "designer's" intention..We, as professing Christians, must show our fruits or our faith is useless. We can't be duped into believing that as long as we believe that Jesus exists and is Lord, then we are OK..cruising on in to Heaven on a luxury airliner..That is not what the Bible teaches. Being a Christian is BEING one..not just professing to be One....and for many of us this means a change in the way we conduct our lives..A shift in our priorities..but let me warn you with this last little bit of advice..Jesus Christ is not looking for a bunch of Christians going through the days checking off their little To Do boxes with a list of good things we did..He is not impressed and in fact I would argue that if you are keeping up with all the good deeds you are doing so you can prove yourself should someone ask or to make yourself feel better...then you may have a larger more important question to ask yourself..Am I truly Saved and do I have a heart for Jesus?..Do I long to be more like Him? This whole idea of bearing good fruit is not a checklist but rather a direct result of the transforming Grace of Almighty God and a part of the life that you live...You know like brushing your teeth or taking a shower..You just do it because that is what you do..No one needs to you dont see people bragging about brushing there teeth...and why? because it is goes our works..they are expected and flow from us because of He who lives in us..

Faith without Works is Dead!!!!!


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