Thursday, February 14, 2013

Is It Faith Alone or By Works?

This our 4th week studying James in our Ladies Bible Study on Monday evenings and I’m so glad to have you join us for the weekly recap! It has been so much fun digging in and studying scripture and using our own pretty little heads to think it through. Yes, sir, we are becoming scholars for sure! Well, maybe we have a way to go to achieve that title, but we’re getting closer, don’t you agree?  There is a lot to discuss in this passage, so let’s get started before our coffee cools.
V 14 If we claim to have faith in God but there is no evidence in our lives, what good is that faith? Can faith that just sits and doesn’t produce anything save you? Scripture makes it clear that we are saved by faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:28) But this whole passage seems to suggest otherwise. 

Verse 17 “…faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” Verse 20  “…faith without deeds is useless.”  Verse 26 “…so faith without deeds is dead.”

V 19 Mere belief in God is not enough. Even the demons believe in God. They know He is real, the only true God, and they know His power. They know this strongly enough to shudder. But there is a difference between believing in God and believing God. Many people believe in God and that seems like enough to them. But to believe that He exists is one thing. To believe what He says so completely that it affects how you live is quite another.

V 15-16 Its meeting the everyday needs of those around us that God is interested in.   Not necessarily because they are so loveable. Or because we have warm fuzzy feelings for them and we want to reach out and help. We show them love because the love of the Father is in us. How does this go along with faith? Galatians 5:6 gives us a hint, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
V 20-24 The best way to explain this is to look at Abraham.  Genesis 22 tells the story of God providing a sacrificial lamb in place of Isaac. God told Abraham to sacrifice his son to show His love for God. AND ABRAHAM OBEYED! Did you catch that? As a mom, I struggle with this passage. What if Abraham had said “No.”? What if he took time to think about it, to rationalize that it certainly wasn’t God’s voice he heard. That God really didn’t want him to do that. But that is where Abraham and I are different. He had a stronger faith than I do; at least at this point in my walk. He trusted God enough to gather wood and fire. To take his son and walk up the mountain. To build the altar. To tell his son “God will provide the lamb.” That, my friends, is faith. Real-live faith. The genuine article, not a reproduction. And it wow’s me each time I read it. When I grow up, I want to have that kind of faith, yes, I do!

Abraham’s faith was expressed by his actions. His faith was made evident by his actions. Faith with feet. Faith that doesn’t move you is dead. Faith with feet that compels you to live it out is alive and real.
V 25-26 Rahab had that kind of faith too. “…was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did?” Though she knew less about God than Abraham did, she acted on that knowledge. It affected her actions. Rahab’s story is a picture of the gospel. She knew she was doomed to destruction. She knew who the true God was. It was those beliefs that compelled her to risk her life to secure deliverance for herself and her family. If she had only suspected that their God was real and powerful, it wouldn’t have been strong enough to develop into that action.

V 22-24 “You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.”
Being a doer and not just a hearer proves your faith. I thing the following two passages help explain this, I will leave you with these to think on all day. I can’t think of a better way to use those brain cells, can you?

Colossians 1:10-12 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[a] to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
Rom 2:13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

Romans 4:2-5 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment!

1 comment:

  1. Great job, I am sure you are all enjoying your time in the word. I many times say to myself yes I know what the bible says and fail to put it into my life to live what it says. Thanks for the reminder. Love you, mom