Monday, April 9, 2012

James 2:14, if someone says. . .

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? NKJV
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? ESV (emphasis added)

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith same him? HCSB (emphasis added)

What USE is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? NASB (emphasis added)

Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?
A quote from The Message*

Works don't save.

But what type of faith is it if you claim to believe, claim to love, claim absolute devotion(!). . . but don't act accordingly?

Our works, our behavior, our actions. They show our resolve, the things we believe and what we really care about to the world. They show our devotions. They are our witness.

Works don't save: but regardless of what excuses we might give they do indicate the quality of our faith and the value we place in it.

When I was younger I was a terrible witness. And I knew it. I was miserable, depressed, hated myself and at times the world, and because I knew how un-Christlike my behavior was, because it seemed as if I knew of every flaw in myself, every shortcoming in my walk with God, and every sin I committed, I hated myself all the more. I welcomed the thought of heaven, but unlike many mature brethren and writers of the Bible such as Paul, my desire was not alone a simple and beautiful desire for God and the things he has promised us, but rather was accompanied by darker thoughts and a want for a means that God would not have.

Few who long and look towards heaven have a perfect desire at all times. The world is imperfect, and we are not meant to be content or satisfied.

At times the pain hits us and we can't wait for escape to that better place, and that isn't wrong. But at times our thoughts and actions may stray a step too far in the ways of escapism and the means by which we would flee from those difficulties, rather than finding peace, and I thank God for His forgiveness and freedom from those thoughts.

At times Christians go through troubles and difficulties, we suffer and sadly we do not always stand strong in those times, exemplifying Christ. (Our sanctification is continuous on earth and not complete until our final release from sin and death, by our earthly death, and as such should be thankful all the more everyday of what Jesus went through for us.)

But those difficult times are still a time to fight. To struggle. To seek after Him and His will. Even when we fall, Jesus did not only make our sins forgiven, He "broke the power of cancelled sin". He freed us from sin. If we are walking with Him then when we have realized our sin it should cause us pain, but because we are freed from sin, although guilt is a favorite tool of the devil, it is our choice whether we will hold onto the chains or lay them at the cross because they have no hold over us!

Loved ones die and we become sick, the church as a whole and every individual is persecuted at times for our separation from the world if we keep in the world but not of it, and for our devotion to the God who loves and we love, who it stands against as an enemy.

Pastor Don McClure when spending time at the ranch and teaching on the life of David was talking about David's time fleeing from Saul into the land of the Philistines. In describing this he gave a quote from the book "What Every Christian Ought to Know" by Adrian Rogers that just seemed to illuminate many of my younger years; it did not give any justification, but upon hearing it I was able to look back with a renewed clarity: "The most miserable person on earth is not a lost person; the most miserable person on earth is a saved person out of fellowship with God."

In his teaching Pastor Don said something like this, "You see, an unsaved person might feel bad for awhile about the things they've done, but to them it isn't sin! When someone who is unsaved sins they don't think it matters! Now when a saved person sins, and they know it, they are hurt at the thought of hurting God. When a saved person sins and knows they've sinned they feel guilty for their sin! The most miserable person on earth isn't somebody who's lost, because they don't know they're lost! I believe that one of the most miserable people on the face of this earth is a depressed Christian. . ."

When our lives are not shining with the light and life of Christ, when we have covered that light with some darkness, we continuously have a choice to seek after God, to ask Him for strength and help in revealing that light to the world, and even if we fail time and time again, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." [Romans 8:1]

I have come so far from where I was before. My faith was always strong, so strong that I would cry out prayers I can now be glad God saw fit not to answer; weeping in my bed at the thought of another minute in darkness, let alone the hour or more it would be before falling asleep, or the days, weeks, months and years surrounded by the darkness of not knowing, filled with what I could only assume at the time to be the darkness of emptiness and sorrow when I knew they should be filled with the light and joy of Christ.

Now I know, not just intellectually but also experientially, even when I face sadness and loneliness, even if a time comes when I again face a season of depression, the Lord is with me. I will always have His joy, and I have experienced His use of even the most difficult of situations to grow and sanctify His children (in this case me.) I know to the very depths of my soul that all things work together for the good of those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. [Romans 8:28]

Where once I would wait day by day for the days to end, unable to pull myself out of the rut surroundings began and I pressed myself farther into, He has actually led me to amazing work. Not only did my Savior save me, but after I wallowed and dug in deep to the mud He reached down and set me straight and walking on the firm road. He brought me to His house with it's comforts and safety and peace. He washed me and clothed me and fed me. He renewed my heart and mind in sanctification, and I pray that He continues to do so everyday.

Where before my life was empty save a faith in Jesus, now Jesus has filled with the things He would have me do and I can show them to the world as a testament of the man-and-God who saved me!

I have always had a faith in Christ, but what is the power of a faith that does not impact our actions or shake and jostle the faiths of others?

We are not saved by works, but 'works' are the natural and good result of a faith that is true, strengthened by knowledge and wisdom (beginning with the fear** of the Lord.) [Proverbs 1:1-7]

*An inexact translation of the Bible, meant to paraphrase scripture into more modern language. Used here as one might in quoting a commentary or speaker as they explain a passage of scripture.

**Respect; acknowledgment and understanding of who God is and His greatness; the original Hebrew:
H3374 יִראָה yir'ah (yir-aw') n-f.
1. fear (also used as infinitive)
2. morally, reverence
[feminine of H3373]
KJV: X dreadful, X exceedingly, fear(-fulness).
Root(s): H3373

Written November 12, 2011

I uploaded this to my blog waaaaay back before Christmas, but while I did save it, I had forgotten to upload it. So. . . I saw it and figured it wouldn't hurt to just get it up today. Better late than never right?


  1. I actually had the same subject on my mind also.. I have been pondering better ways that I can share Christianity with unbelievers. But I have noticed that more and more are turning to the Internet rather than one on one communication. This really troubles my heart because I figure that Jesus went one on one with people, to minister. Now we sit infront of the facebook and type away. Mabey im old fashioned, but I'm distressed over the technology phase and would like to go door to door with someone and try and spread the word that way. Your thoughts?

  2. Oh, absolutely I think that's a great idea. People are finding great uses for the internet in evangelism, furthering the gospel in many great ways and I have no doubt the Holy Spirit works through it, but many have forgotten or simply feel uncomfortable with the intimacy and vulnerability of stepping forward with the gospel pouring forth from their own two lips. Their are those who legitimately use facebook or other forms of communication in their ministries to share, and even if it is only a pseudo-ministry used as an excuse for fear of doing more, Paul himself took joy from even those with evil motives preaching the gospel because, ". . .whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed". [Philippians 1:12-18]

    But if you are willing to go more literally out into the world, by all means seek the Lord for strength and words for the time when they are needed and go forth! :D