Serene Sunday

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Faith that Works.

There is a confusion about salvation, faith and works. Paul teaches that we are saved through faith alone in the gift of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins.

Then there is James who teaches that faith without works is dead.

Do they contradict? No. They are actually addressing two different arguments brought before them.

Paul was addressing the Judaisers who felt that the Gentiles who were confessing salvation through Christ had to follow the Jewish law and it’s teachings as well. Paul emphasized that there was a new law – that Christ fulfilled the need for the law. Faith in Christ frees us from the law. In other words, we don’t have to follow all of the teachings of the law to be saved. The purpose of the law was to point out sin and the need for salvation – following the law completely was impossible – alone.

“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.  For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13

James addressed those who professed faith but there was little or no evidence of it. His illustration of someone looking in a mirror – seeing his or herself as being saved then walks away forgetting what that looked like. James was addressing the argument that some took Paul’s teaching too far – didn’t do anything after professng their faith. James’ argument was that if there was true faith – it would be evident by the ‘works’ of that person. There would be a change. This person would demonstrate love, patience and kindness. This person would be like Rahab – when she believed she did something good for others.

 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.  This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.  For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.  Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:13 – 18

They both teach salvation only comes through Jesus. They’re just addressing two separate arguments. Similar to what we face today. Those who truly have accepted Christ as their Savior will have a different outlook, approach and purpose in life. This comes through the tempting or the testing that James first alluded to in his writing. All go through difficulties. Faith in God through those difficulties strengthens our walk. Seeing that there’s more to this life in that we all will face difficulties but we all have to walk each day with others in mind.

When difficulties or difficult people come to us we have to demonstrate our faith in patience, in control of our spirit and of our words. We demonstrate our faith by a geniune concern for others – even for those who oppose us.

Salvation only comes through faith in Jesus Christ. True conversion demonstrates that salvation by allowing the teaching and the fruits of the Holy Spirit to come through. 

We all experience times when we lose our focus. The cares of the world and situations can draw our attention away. It is only when we come back to God and see the situation for what it is and learn from it. Through it all – God is understanding – nothing takes Him by surprise. He knows us more than we know ourselves.

Faith, trials and works…the ebb and the flow of our life changes from day to day and from circumstance to circumstance. Do you have a true faith in Christ? Do you experience difficulties and trials? Do you seek to learn and to grow? Do you begin to understand that through it all – the teaching and the work of the Holy Spirit guides you to understanding and ultimately to imitation – to love God and to love others? Then, do you demonstrate your faith through works.

We all live and grow. God has tremendous patience toward us as we do. Gaining understanding that faith is a growing process – we go through experiences, we demonstrate-reflect God and we come to better understand and to love more deeply because of that understanding.

This all takes time, experience and time spent with God through prayer and His word.

Faith – believe that Jesus is the Christ who came to make a way to salvation. Works – demonstrate that the true faith in Christ in you is revealed by how you walk through this life.

But there’s more to this life than living and dying,
More than just trying to make it through the day;
More to this life, more than these eyes alone can see,
And there’s more than this life alone can be.
So where do we start to find every part
Of what makes this life complete;
If we turn our eyes to Jesus well find
Lifes true beginning is there at the cross where He died.
He died to bring us…
But there’s more to this life than living and dying,
More than just trying to make it through the day;
More to this life, more than these eyes alone can see,
And there’s more than this life alone can be.
More to this Life – Steven Curtis Chapman

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