Thursday, 21 November 2013

A Faith that Works

Hello Dear Friends.

Life is wonderful, hectic and full of new and sometimes stressful adventures for us lately.  I was reminded the other day that there are 5 weeks until Christmas. That also means that there are only 11 weeks until baby should arrive (give or take a few days).  The next few months hold many new challenges, as I am sure the time to follow will also.

Our Moms group just completed a wonderful study of the book of James. We were blessed to have one of the volunteers, that would normally be watching our children during our study, come and bless us with some wonderful testimony and wisdom.  It was such a blessing and it renewed my spirit as I studied and read through the book of James and to hear the Lord speaking through it.

The following was not a part of what we studied, being that our sessions are short and there wasn't nearly enough time to cover it all.

My Christian brothers, what good does it do if you say you have faith but do not do things that prove you have faith? Can that kind of faith save you from the punishment of sin?  What if a Christian does not have clothes or food?  And one of you says to him, “Goodbye, keep yourself warm and eat well.” But if you do not give him what he needs, how does that help him?  A faith that does not do things is a dead faith.
Someone may say, “You have faith, and I do things. Prove to me you have faith when you are doing nothing. I will prove to you I have faith by doing things.”  You believe there is one God. That is good! But even the demons believe that, and because they do, they shake.
You foolish man! Do I have to prove to you that faith without doing things is of no use?  Was not our early father Abraham right with God by what he did? He obeyed God and put his son Isaac on the altar to die.  You see his faith working by what he did and his faith was made perfect by what he did.  It happened as the Holy Writings said it would happen. They say, “Abraham put his trust in God and he became right with God.” He was called the friend of God.  A man becomes right with God by what he does and not by faith only. 
 The same was true with Rahab, the woman who sold the use of her body. She became right with God by what she did in helping the men who had been sent to look through the country and sent them away by another road.  The body is dead when there is no spirit in it. It is the same with faith. Faith is dead when nothing is done.
James 2:14-26 (New Life Version)

You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
James 2:24 (NKJV) 

This statement that James makes could be taken by some as a contradiction of what Paul teaches, that salvation is based on faith alone. 

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
Romans 3:28

The study notes in my bible put it nicely, "A faith that knows for certain that God exists but fails to trust him or to manifest itself in a transformed life is not faith at all."
James views our works as the acts of living out a Christian love that inevitably accompany real, genuine faith. 

I love that James gives two really profoundly different examples of the kind of faith he is talking about.  Firstly, he goes to the story of Abraham, this story would be one that the Jewish followers of Christ would be able to easily understand because he is the patriarch of Judaism. 

Abraham shows his faithfulness by being willing to take his son as sacrifice to God. But he shows it even further by actually doing it. It was not enough for him to say "Okay God I'll do it" and then not go. He had to take action and live out the faith that he had. Abraham was tested in his faith and because of it his faith was strengthened. 

The second illistration is of Rahab who protected the spies of Joshua. Again, it was her actions that demonstrate her faith. She protected the spies because she believed in the power of their God, she had heard of stories of the great things that were done by God to save his people and she had faith. 

I love that James goes from the patriarch to the prostitute. I talked a while back about God's grace being sufficient and how he uses sinners to do His works, despite their sins. Find It Here  What a great show of how God's people, those that are "great" in our eyes and those that are not, He gives them each opportunity to act out their faith.

I often feel like I am not living out my faith like I should be.  I feel as if my job as a wife and mother leaves me with so few opportunities to show God's hand in my life and show that Christian love that goes with my faith.  I do not want to live out a faith that is a "dead faith".

My prayers have been full lately asking God to show me opportunities to live out my faith, to act on it, and to be more like Christ in what I say and how I act.

May you also find opportunities to do, to act and to live out a living, genuine faith.

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