Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


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27. Test 5: The Works Test – Part 4

James 2:20-26

20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? 21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. 24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. 25 Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. 26 Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.

The third kind of works that reveal evidence of true faith are works that show a:

  1. Hope pinned on God’s promises (20-24)

A hope based on the belief that God will do what He says He will do. James reminds us of Abraham who was called by God to offer his only son as a sacrifice. As Abraham obeyed, God intervened and provided a substitute sacrifice. Now there are some sticky words here if you take them by themselves. Is James really saying that Abraham was saved through his work of laying Isaac on the altar? The word “justified” means for a person to be declared not guilty as if he had never sinned. But it’s used in two different senses. The first is the actual act of having been justified, the act of salvation, God’s grace given through faith. But the other sense of the word deals with being shown to have been justified. In the first sense, God signs the paperwork that declares the sinner, “not guilty.” In the second sense, the one whom God has declared not guilty produces the paperwork signed by the judge that declares him not guilty. The first is the fact, the second is the evidence. It’s the second that James uses here. He is saying, “Didn’t the fact that he was obedient reveal that he had pinned all His hope on God’s promises? Yes, it did. But what enabled him to do that? Hebrews 11:17-19 reveals the reason Abraham was able to lay his only son on that altar, because God had promised him a seed that would come from Isaac. God promised and Abraham placed his hope in God’s faithfulness to keep His promise. He believed God, even if He had to raise him up from the dead. Abraham exercised his hope with action, by cutting wood and building an altar. He obeyed God because He believed God. What about you are you hanging onto the hope of God’s promises? Are you focused on the problems around you or the promises that surround you? The fourth kind of works that reveal evidence of true faith are works that show

  1. Show service to God’s people (25-26)

James continues with his Old Testament example, which is not surprising considering his congregation was made up of Jewish Christians. He uses the example of Rahab the harlot who protected and provided for the spies that Joshua sent to scout out the city of Jericho. In Joshua 2:11 she gives her profession of faith as She said, “When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” But those were just words, was her profession of faith real? What did her works show? They showed her faith to be real when she gave service to God’s people. She became as a Jew just as Ruth would also later do. And, like Ruth after her, by God’s grace, Rahab is one of three women listed in the earthly genealogy of Jesus. Her works showed her faith by her service to God’s people. Her immediate service to the Israelite spies and her eternal service to the lineage of Christ. Do you risk or sacrifice anything to serve God’s people? What are you doing that will impact God’s church for future generations? If you don’t your faith might be dead.

Once again, we have been given a test. A test to see if your faith is real or not, a test comprising of 4 questions.

  1. Do your works show concern for the crown of God’s creation? Do you truly help the needy by giving them what they need most, Jesus?
  2. Do your works show total trust in God’s Word? Does God’s Word determine how you act? Does it fill your life so that it overflows into godly living?
  3. Do your works show a Hope pinned on God’s promises? Even though you might not understand the circumstances that God has placed you in, do you trust Him anyway? Trust Him enough to show Him by your actions?
  4. Do your works show service to God’s people? Are you doing things to serve God’s church? If not, your faith might be dead.

 

 

 

 


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26. Test 5: The Works Test – Part 3

James 2:18-19 

18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” 19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.

The second kinds of works that reveal evidence of true faith are works that show:

  1. Total trust in God’s Word

James now reminds us of a scary truth, that it’s not enough just to say we believe, because even the demons do that. Remember the legion of demons Jesus cast out of two men and into the pigs in Matthew 8:28-32, “When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” 30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” 32 He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.” The demons knew who Jesus was, they even publicly confessed that He was the Son of God. That was both an accurate belief and an open and public belief, but it obviously wasn’t a saving belief. Why? For the same reason it isn’t a saving belief to hang a picture of Jesus on your wall at home. For the same reason it isn’t a saving belief just to carry a Bible. For the same reason it isn’t a saving belief to come to church every week. It isn’t a saving belief, because it isn’t a belief that has changed you. You can come to church and not be changed but you can’t come to Christ and not be changed. Today there are people who come to church but have never come to Christ and so they never experience change. Look coming to church doesn’t make you a Christian coming to Christ does. You can recite John 3:16 all day long, but until the belief that Jesus died for you changes your life, it doesn’t mean anything. A living faith means trusting God’s Word so that it applies to every aspect of your life. Believing that it is all sufficient to supply the answers to problems at work, at home, in your marriage, with your kids, your health, every aspect of your life. Don’t say you believe the Bible show it in the way that you live it. Because those who believe the Bible obey the bible, or their faith is just a dead faith. Today when it comes to God’s Word many of us have a Facebook approach, we are quick to like it but slow to live it. Several years ago, a man asked to meet with me because he wanted to become a better husband and father. When I opened up God’s Word to show him God’s answer to his question, he said he didn’t want me to read the bible. So, I closed my bible and put it on the shelf behind me and then turning to face him I asked him then why did you come to me for help? Because I see the way your wife looks at you and loves you, because I watch the way your kids respond to you with respect, and that’s what I want. I told him I was sorry, but that I couldn’t help him because as long as that book sits on the shelf I have nothing I could share. You see the reason my wife and kids respond with love and respect is because I walk out the Word. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Jesus. I explained that the answer he sought was in God’s Holy Word. He said ok well I guess you can share a little bit of the Bible. To which I said do you want your wife and kids to love and respect you a little bit or a lot bit? How much you walk out the word depends on how much you trust the Word. To say you are a Christian and act or live some other way is contrary to the definition of the word Christian. We live in a world where we want Christ to save our lives but not to saturate them. Why are we afraid of a radical relationship with Jesus, why do we want to be inoculated with a shot of salvation but not to be infected with servanthood? Are we afraid that we might lose our minds? Yet isn’t that the point, isn’t that the command, to lose our mind and take on the mind of Christ? During flu season there are many who get a small shot where they receive just enough of the virus to inoculate them but not to infect them. There are many today who claim Christ yet don’t obey His commands, because they have been inoculated with religion instead of being infected by redemption. In his book Redeeming the Time: A Christian Approach to Work and Leisure, Leland Ryken, says, “Earlier in this century someone claimed that we work at our play and play at our work. Today the confusion has deepened: we worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship.” What about you? What are you really worshipping? When it comes to your faith are you serious or are you just playing around?