From the Pastor's Desk
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July 7, 2016, 2:45 PM

True Faith OR Dead Faith 


Why is there seemingly such a gap/missing link between people who believe? What is saving faith? What is “dead faith”? What is faith that saves/works, what does it look like? 

James gives what I believe is a balanced view of faith. I do not believe his statements brings division or contradiction with Paul’s statements about faith. James 2:14-26  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,   And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed 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.  18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew 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 Isaac his son upon the altar?  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 Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?  26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

James is pointing out what “True Faith” looks like and what its lifestyle is.

God wants more than “mental assent/mind faith;” He wants a life committed to follow him! That is saving faith! The committed life is (in my opinion) the missing link in faith/mental assent and a “faith that saves/faith with works.”

So often hear people refer to themselves as “Christians” while living so worldly and indulging in sinful/unbiblical lifestyles. What is one to think and believe?

John 3:14-18    And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,  15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life16 "For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.  18 "There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God's one and only Son.

THE PROBLEM: There is sometimes a disparity and gap with mental assenting to the true doctrine of the Gospel and true faith that believes unto salvation. One should not conclude that giving intellectual assent with the mind to the doctrine of Gospel automatically makes him/her a Christian. While the mind must be in agreement with the Gospel; there is more to saving faith than merely affirming one’s belief that the Gospel and Bible are authentically God’s Word.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Often, we see that a gap between one’s talk and one’s walk.   A “faith” that believes unto righteousness and the first step of faith that is accepting of God’s account of his Christ; when one has a true faith and repents, he is indeed saved.

True faith takes the step in the process of salvation; believing with the mind and accepting as true the Gospel of Christ. As necessary as that step is in to a person’s salvation; there must be more! There must be a faith that believes unto righteousness and goes further in true repentance. Mental assent only to the divinity of Christ and his finished work on Calvary is simply not enough.

Romans 10:9-11 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

James statements about faith do not bring division or contradiction with Paul’s statements about faith, rather James brings clarification. James 2:14-26  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,   And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed 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.  18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew 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 Isaac his son upon the altar?  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 Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?  26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

James is pointing out what “True Faith” looks like and what its lifestyle is.

God wants more than “mental assent; or only intellectual agreement;” He wants a life committed to follow him! That is saving faith! The committed life is (in my opinion) the missing link in dead faith that profits nothing and saving faith that brings salvation that is seen and glorifies God.

Consider the jailer who was saved and whom Paul baptized. He had a turnaround in his life! His lifestyle changed along with his belief. That is demonstration of a “faith that saves,” i.e. a “faith that is not dead.”

Acts 16:30-34  And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.  32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.  33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.  34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

Faith unto Salvation is not about works but it is a faith that works. It is not the works of baptism or as the harlot Rahab did, the hanging of a purple thread from her window. It/the faith that saves is a “faith that works.” (More than and mental assent)
 

What about the thief on the cross who believed? He didn’t have time to do works.  Work is not criterion for salvation; faith is! However, true saving faith is a faith that motivates. Jesus declared, the repentant thief who obviously had faith, would be in paradise with him that day, so we know he had a saving faith even though he was not able to do works.                                                                                                                                                 Luke 23:39-43  And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?  41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.  42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Peter’s visit to the Gentiles Acts 10:43-48  He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name."  44 Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message.  45 The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too.  46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.Then Peter asked,  47 "Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?"  48 So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterward Cornelius asked him to stay with them for several days.

Paul speaking to Peter and others who were reverting to the “Law of Moses” concerning not eating with Gentiles, eating certain things, etc.  (A TRUE FAITH PLUS NOTHING)     (True faith is a saving faith—Saving faith is a faith that works, moves and motivates from the heart)                             Galatians 2:16 - 3:1   Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law."  17 But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not!  18 Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down.  19 For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law-- I stopped trying to meet all its requirements-- so that I might live for God.  20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. 

Scripture says, a person is not saved by trying to keep the Law of Moses, neither would we be saved merely obeying the laws of “being good & good works.” Abraham was JUSTIFIED by faith, but his faith was a “saving faith that moved him to works and obedience.

Conclusion: “IF” there are no works and motivation toward obedience and following Christ and his Word, one should question whether he really has a “saving faith.”

While we are not in the place of judging whether a person is truly saved or not; we are instructed NOT to be deceived.                                                     NLT(1 Corinthians 6:8-10  Instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your fellow believers.  9 Don't you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality,  10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people-- none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.)

Luke 6:43-44   For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.

It is not that a true Christian cannot sin; however, a true Christian will not be able to habitually enjoy sinful habits and lifestyles. We are to put away all things that offend God.

1 John 1: 6-10  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 

1 John 2:1-6  NLT 1 My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.  2 He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins-- and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.  3 And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments4 If someone claims, "I know God," but doesn't obey God's commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.  5 But those who obey God's word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him.  6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

Christians are to keep our faith alive and active by living a life of spiritual discipline. There is no substitute for spending time in Bible study, prayer, worship and fellowshiping with the believers.

2Peter 1:4-10 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.  5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;  6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;  7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.  8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.  10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

We should examine ourselves under the scrutiny of the Word of God.                                                                                                                                              2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. 

May God help us all to have true, living faith that saves! Our soul and eternity deserves "due diligence."


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