Three times, James states, 'Faith without works is dead!' Here's how James' teaching agrees with and complements the teaching of Paul on justification.
Many think works and faith are incompatible, but the Bible tells us to do works of faith. What are they? These are things we must do during the salvation process.
God's spiritual law, encapsulated in the Ten Commandments and demonstrated in the life of Jesus Christ, reveals His way of life, which we must emulate.
How do we obey this call to test ourselves, to know whether we are in the faith? A good place to start is to see how God measures faith, beginning with Abraham.
What is faith? Is it something we work up or does God give it to us? Do we have the faith to be saved? Do we really trust God?
At times we exhibit some faithlessness, perhaps because we have viewed faith just in terms of what we do rather than what God does through His gifting to us.
Millions who say they believe in Jesus Christ have no salvation at all because they trust in the wrong kind of faith. Saving faith is largely misunderstood.
The 'no works' doctrine says that all one has to do is believe in Jesus and accept His grace, and one's sins will be forgiven. This has disastrous effects.
We need to be working on increasing our faith and ridding our lives of attitudes that block faith. Then we can begin to be profitable servants.
The Scriptures place a paramount importance on sacrifice. Abraham's 'sacrifice' of Isaac confirmed him to the position of father of the faithful.
Works cannot earn us salvation. However, they play many vital roles in our Christian walk toward the Kingdom of God, especially in developing holiness.
The Bible makes it plain that salvation is by grace, but it is also clear that we are 'created in Christ Jesus for good works.' Grace and works fit together.
Using assumptions, some have concocted some nine conflicting calendars. The preservation of the oracles has not been entrusted to the church but to the Jews.
The only tangible measures of faith is faithfulness, trust, and loyalty to God. We don't need to ask God for more faith, but rather work on being faithful.
Those reveling in the 'new freedoms' of apostasy cannot be persuaded to return to former beliefs because they no longer believe in the sanctified Word of God.
Both spiritual and physical healing require us to work intensely, asking for God's merciful intervention while working toward a solution, exercising wisdom.
The Bible abounds in metaphors of warfare, indicating that the Christian's walk will be characterized by stress, sacrifice, and deprivation in building faith.
Salvation is not a one time event, but a continuous process—not just immunity from death, but a total transformation of our nature into a new creation.
As we attempt to overcome the world, we soon realize that we battle against invisible principalities, requiring us to form a close relationship with Christ.
We will not have faith tomorrow simply because we had it yesterday; we must renew faith daily by deliberately remembering God's prior interventions.
Because we are all sinners, we have earned only death; justification is not earned, but must come through faith and believing God as did our father Abraham.
All of God's people should be watchmen like Habakkuk, living continually by faith, discerning, listening to, and responding to God's instructions.
Works are necessary for a Christian, and have not been neutralized by grace. Good works serve as the evidence of faith; faith without works is dead.
God is pleased to save those who humble themselves, allowing Him to perform a mighty work through them, and putting everyone in debt to Him.
God requires His people to put their faith in action, giving evidence of their hope, demonstrating godly behavior rather than abrasive carnal behavior.
Kim Myers, acknowledging that we are celebrating an event yet to happen in the future, suggests that we need to have intense faith to move from point A (the present) to point B (the Millennium).Faith is a trust in things we cannot see, the same kind of faith that Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego had to endure the threat of the fiery furnace. We are also promised to be tested by fiery trials, as well as deceptions which threaten even the elect. Jesus warned about pestilence, wars, calamities, false prophets, offenses, and betrayals. How do we get the faith we need to endure this present age? Living faith requires that we match hearing with productive works. Faith without works is a dead faith. Works are what we do every day; everything we do matters. Our most important works are: (1) prayer (2) Bible study (3) meditation and (4) fasting—which all take work. Everything we do is a work, and it all matters. Sometimes God will make the people who humiliate us become dependent or beholden to us. Sometimes God will take things that people intended to be a curse to us into a blessing, as long as we glorify God rather than ourselves. As natural disasters and violence increase, maintaining faith will become problematic unless we also maintain works that please God.
God works all the time. In fact, it is the first thing we see God doing in His Book. We must follow His example to become skilled in living as He does.
Both the 'eternal security' and 'no works' doctrines are destroyed by the remarkable example of Noah, who performed extraordinary works based upon faith.
Just as a dead person does no works, so a faith that does not include works is also dead. A person in whom living, saving faith exists will produce works.
The letters in Revelation 2 and 3 are for the end times, shortly before Christ's return. Each emphasizes repentance, overcoming, and judgment according to works.
Martin Collins, commenting on the progressive liberal media's charge that women are discriminated against, points out that the feminist-goaded media fails to take into account that more men place themselves in life-threatening, dangerous occupations which women generally eschew, often receiving less pay than women competing with men in safer occupations. Men account for 93% of the workplace deaths. The liberal, progressive media continually lies in their attempt to divide the genders, the races, and ethnic groups. Both men and women have received a judgment from God as a result of Adam and Eve's sin. For men, the ground has been cursed, and he has been forced to live by the sweat of the brow; for women, they would have anguish in childbirth. God wants to remind us of the manifestations and awful consequences of sin. God requires us to work and not deliberately seek welfare or food stamps; He also does not want us to obsess on acquiring riches. Sadly, many mainstream churches have waxed socialist in their social gospel, claiming that the early church was communistic. Our current government has catered to laziness and non-productivity by bailing out companies which underpay their employees for turning out inferior products. Mentally weak and docile men with "lace-hanky fairness" support the welfare system. Real men (and women) work hard to be charitable and generous. Our forefather Jacob worked for a scheming uncle, who changed his wages ten times, serving him as he would God. Likewise we, as God's called ones, must serve our employer as we would Jesus Christ, with a self-sacrificing attitude, desiring to benefit others. The Millennium, which this Feast symbolizes, will be a beehive of activity, with the wealth that the Gentiles will accrue as tribute, benefitting all of mankind. We must now trust God to supply our needs as we work for our employer with the lo
If we are not following the true gospel that Christ proclaimed, we will wind up somewhere other than the Kingdom of God!
Jesus and Abraham rose above their emotional pulls by exercising living faith—a faith built on acts of obedience. Faith can never be separated from works.
Jesus said, 'Believe in Me,' and hundreds of millions have said, 'I believe.' But true belief is impossible until a person has been appointed to eternal life.
We should be willing to give up anything for the Kingdom, controlling our speech, thoughts, behaviors, and lives. We cannot grow in grace without works.
A summary of the Covenants, Grace, and Law series, reiterating the differences in the Covenants and the respective places of grace and law in God's purpose.
The seven 'I will' promises Got made to Abraham were truly foundational promises, impacting the lives of multiple billions of people up to the present day.
The book of James applies to us after the sanctification process has begun. The most effective way of eliminating sin is to do righteousness.
While we must express some of our own faith as we come to salvation, most of saving faith is a gift of God. Abel and Enoch illustrate the pattern of faith.
Having experienced the turmoil of the Catholic—Protestant clash, the framers of our Constitution did not want any sect dictating religious doctrines or practices.
The faithful life and work of Noah illustrates that after justification, walking by faith with God is a practical responsibility.
With all the military metaphors in the Bible, there can be no doubt that God likens the Christian life to a war against the evils and temptations we face.
Our conviction reveals itself in living by faith. Moses is a stunning example of how a convicted Christian should live — with loyalty and faithfulness to God.
We can sum up the epistle of James with one verse: 'Pure and undefiled religion...is this: to visit orphans and widows..., and to keep oneself unspotted...."
When properly evaluated, there are no discrepancies in scripture; God is not the author of confusion. God does not enlighten us until we are mature enough.
Commitment to a course of action is essential for physical or spiritual success. Faith motivates and sustains right action, protecting us from the yo-yo like fits of starting and stopping. Shallow or incomplete faith is contrasted with complete or mature faith. Our simple faith must transform into mature or enduring faith, which enables us to metaphorically see God. The honor roll in Hebrews 11 consists of plain, ordinary individuals who out of weakness, by trusting God, were made spiritually strong. Likewise, our faith, a gift from Almighty God, can be made strong and life-sustaining, leading us toward salvation if we move beyond recognition through evaluation and ultimately into action.
In Galatians, Paul took issue with the Halakhah, not God's word. Halakhah was a massive collection of human opinion that placed a yoke on its followers.
A spiritual Israelite undergoes a metamorphosis in which his own self-centered will is broken so that God's creative work can be completed within him.
Richard Ritenbaugh asserts that the epistle of James stresses both faith and works, emphasizing those factors necessary for growth, enabling us to produce a bountiful harvest of fruit. We are to exercise humility and impartiality, taking particular effort to bring our tongues under control, being cautiously slow to speak, acknowledging God in all our thoughts. We are obligated to do practical works of goodness and kindness to our brethren, being solicitous of their needs, and making intercessory prayer for them. To him who knows to do good but doesn't, it is sin. Eating unleavened bread is equivalent to practicing good works.
Christ will empower us, but will not live our lives for us. The marching orders for our pilgrimage derive from God's Word, containing His holy law.
The frightful conditions during the 1st century are typical of the times ahead. To weather these circumstances, we need the encouragement of Hebrews.
Becoming equipped for leadership requires that we discipline ourselves in following God's way of life, allowing the mind of Jesus Christ to be in us in.
The yoke of bondage Paul refers to in Galatians was a combination of the code of regulations added by the Pharisees and Gnostic ritualism, not God's Law.
Under both the Old and New Covenants, refusal to keep to keep God's Law severs the relationship. God's law protects us and brings us quality life.
Abraham, the father of the faithful, did not have a blind faith; it was based upon observation of God's proven track record of faithfulness.
Are we 'once-saved, always-saved'? Once God grants us His grace, are we assured eternal life? The fallacies of the doctrine of 'eternal security' are exposed.
God has invited us into a love relationship—one in which He has already shown Himself to be absolutely faithful. If we truly love Him, severing our affections with this world, we will meet the demands of becoming holy. God's Holy Spirit enables us to have this love (Romans 5:5), but we must actively use it or lose it. We must seek God as ardently as we would a physical love relationship, spending quality time with Him. If we make no effort to pursue this relationship, it cools. Similarly, unfaithfulness (idolatry) will destroy it. Obedience (expressing our love toward God and proving that we trust Him) will strengthen this relationship, giving us a higher quality, more abundant life and increased blessings.
John Reid, inspired by the early farming experiences of one of his sales colleagues, reflects that the Feast of Tabernacles (a harvest season) depicts the reward of diligent management of time and resources. The images of plowing (breaking up clods), sowing seed, cultivating, and harvesting are applied to our spiritual condition of overcoming.Reaping rewards are depicted in both farming and building metaphors. We have to be careful what we sow and what we build, proving our faith by concrete deeds, obeying what God would have us do, overcoming our carnal natures, yielding to God's shaping power, letting our lights shine, guarding our minds, and glorifying God in our example.If we are diligent in our sowing, building, or training, the rewards will be awesome.
Understanding our obligation to Christ leads to a deeply held loyalty to Him. Our redemption should make us strive to please Him in every facet of life.
John Reid emphasizes that we have a responsibility after our calling to conform to the image of Jesus Christ, actively giving of ourselves to overcome. God has called us in order that we glorify Him in our behavior, being His representatives. God wants His people to be just like Him, to imitate Him, to adopt His very nature. If we aren't putting into practice what we have learned, actively overcoming and bringing forth fruit, serving others, becoming a totally new being, we are not glorifying God. We have been called for the purpose of glorifying God by totally changing our lives, conforming to His character and image.
Martin Collins, identifying reasons why false teachers are able to entice people out of God's church, asks us which "button or buttons" would someone have to push in order for us to leave the truth of God. The doctrines of grace and Christian liberty have been perverted to become synonyms for tolerance of sin. Similarly, the doctrine of faith was twisted into spiritual inactivity or an anti-works mentality. Faith and works were never meant to be mutually exclusive or adversarial concepts, but instead complementary; faith without works is stone dead. Peter warned us that people unskilled in the Word (scoffers) have deceptively twisted Paul's letters to advocate deadly lawless antinomian heresies. These intellectually gifted heretics have been extraordinarily persuasive, but obviously lack the fear of God. We must be sufficiently skilled in God's Word (using prayer, Bible study, and meditation through the help of God's Holy Spirit) to safeguard ourselves against the enticements of Satan, our human nature, and these scoffing false teachers, guarding the truth, developing an iron-clad steadfastness and progressively developing Christian virtues (identified by Peter as knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love) clear-sightedly and diligently practicing these godly behaviors, following the example of our Elder Brother Jesus Christ, producing abundant spiritual fruit, enabling us to make our election sure.
The Lake of Fire (Second Death or Third Resurrection), dreadful as it initially appears, produces both immediate as well as ultimate benefits or good.
We must avoid forgetting the connection between past and present, especially as our forebears had to battle outer and inner enemies of God's truth.
John Ritenbaugh, focusing upon II John 5, an epistle which cautions about deceivers who would denigrate the value of work, considers the straining on the point "we cannot earn salvation" a red herring, diverting our attention from the true value of Christian work. God indeed judges the quality and quantity of what we do in our Christian responsibilities. Our calling is a vocation; work or labor is vitally important in our calling. God is our model regarding work, mandating that we produce fruits of righteousness. Christ admonishes that our highest regard should be seeking the Kingdom of God and righteousness. We work for Christ as His slaves. Profit from life is produced by work, requiring sacrifices of time and energy. Christians have been created for the very purpose of doing good works which God has prepared for us. We will be continuing in this work for all eternity. Christian works were never intended to save us; Jesus' works as our Savior and high Priest is what saves us. Doing the works provides practice in God's way of life, engraving in us His character, providing a witness to the world, glorifying God. It takes work to put things in order and prepare for the return of Christ. Three parables in the Olivet prophecy (The Two Servants, Wise and Foolish Virgins, and the Talents) emphasize the necessity of work in the preparation for Christ's return. One's faithfulness in productivity does not transfer to one who has been a slacker. We are all being scrutinized and judged by Almighty God as to what we do, especially as it related to our service to our fellow servants. Whatever we sow, regarding our relationships with one another, we will reap. Sin (of commission or omission) describes the failure to maintain God's standards. The failure to work is sin. Works do not save us, but everyone who is saved works. We will be judged and rewarded according to our
The trials we go through are part of His providence, putting us into humility and determining what really motivates us.
Focusing upon II Corinthians 13:5, John Ritenbaugh cautions us of the futility of assenting to a code of standards we do not intend to apply. Belief without conduct equals a dead faith leading to death. Works give evidence that we really do believe and have the Holy Spirit in us. What we believe (correctly or incorrectly) will inevitably produce works. According to a survey conducted by Barna, a large segment of professing Christians have rejected major tenets of the Bible (in effect, calling Jesus Christ a liar) fashioning their own subjective, private religions, giving themselves license to sin in selected areas and fostering a tolerance for hideous societal perversions. Rejecting a biblical world-view, unfaithful modern Israel has degenerated into a habitation of demons. As God's called out ones, we are admonished not to conform or follow suit, but to yield to God's purification.
A poor spiritual diet will bring about a weak spiritual condition. What the mind assimilates is exceedingly more important than what the stomach assimilates.
Martin Collins discusses the apostle Paul's epistle to the Thessalonians, a group of dispirited, despairing Christians who had been bombarded by false teachings that the Day of the Lord had already come, prompting many to quit their employment, rest on their laurels, and become busy-bodies, as well as leading the leaders to express doubt and fear that the congregation would ever make the grade. Paul encourages the bewildered Thessalonians, suggesting that the purposes for the suffering they were now enduring consists of (1) growing in spiritual character, providing examples to the other congregations, (2) being prepared for future glory, and (3) glorifying Christ today. Paul encourages the Thessalonians to thank God for their salvation, surrender without complaint, ask God to give wisdom, and to watch for opportunities to serve, waiting patiently for God to work His purpose. We cannot be so excited about Christ's return that we neglect our own overcoming and character development. Because God's Church is under judgement now, we cannot rest on our laurels, but we must submit to God's summons to a life of purity and sacrifice. God can and will supply strength and power to all those who have been called, but our aspiration and goal of conforming to His image has to motivate our current performance. If we humbly trust in God, all of our works will bear fruit. In order for God to grow a church, the faith of its members must be strengthened through trials, love must increase, and hope must persevere, enduring under trial. Tribulation produces perseverance, which in turn leads to reciprocal glory with Christ.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the multiple nuances of the Hebrew words translated into the English word "wisdom," suggests that an acquired skill for living represents the common denominator in all of these definitions. Godly wisdom is only attained with a high degree of training. Carnal wisdom, through the labyrinth of life, has practical value even without a spiritual context, but living by faith requires that we trust and obey God in those areas where we do not have all the facts. Faith is a spiritual work. Wisdom is not hidden and is readily available if we retain God in our thoughts. Wisdom and the fear of the Lord are inextricably bound together. Both wisdom and foolishness produce fruit according to their nature. Wisdom produces life; foolishness produces death. We reap what we sow. If we repent of our sins, and cry out for understanding, we will receive knowledge, discernment, and God's Holy Spirit. Wisdom must be continually sought after. God wants us to use wisdom to change ourselves, humbly replacing our perspective with God's perspective. Only God gives wisdom. God gives wisdom as a component of His grace to His family, far more valuable than gemstones. Godly wisdom, incompatible with pride and arrogance, cannot be mined out of the earth, and it is more valuable than anything so mined, transferable through the Millennium into eternal life. The fear of the Lord is the source of spiritual wisdom.
Government may be the most important subject in the Bible because it touches on how Christians are to govern themselves under the sovereignty of God.
Catholics and Protestants, because of lack of belief, do not find the Bible a sufficient guide to salvation. They claim to believe Christ, yet disobey.
John 6 has always been a difficult chapter to explain. However, Jesus' teaching is clear. Here is what it means to us.
The Good Samaritan parable teaches that unless one practices doing good rather than just knowing good, his faith will be severely compromised.
James had to be written as a counterbalance to antinomian elements that twisted Paul's writings to proclaim that that grace nullifies the need for works.
The Parable of the Talents teaches the need for diligence in using the gifts of God. God expects us to use our talents to His glory and in the service of others.
Faith from God will be required to endure and profit from trials, bringing about character and genuineness of faith, as well as patience and trust in God.
Works demonstrate our faith, our response to God's calling and His freely given grace. Reciprocity is always a part of our relationship with God.
As Christ sacrificed for us, we are called to sacrifice for others. Love is an action, a behavior, rather than an emotion, described in I Corinthians 13.
Abraham's experiences teach us not to try to force God's will. When any sin or self-will is involved, the fruits of such an endeavor will be bitter.
If we look upon the Book of Daniel as a puzzle of prophecies, we miss the more important point that it gives strategies to remain godly in a godless venue.
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that humility is not an obsequious demonstration of low self esteem, but instead it is a proper estimate of our relationship to God, which is a choice to act and behave as a servant or slave. If we would follow Christ's example of humility, we would have automatic unity. We need to have both the inclination and the follow-through act of humility and lowliness of mind. We have to cultivate the same attitude as our Elder Brother as He esteemed others above Himself. Faith, praise, gratitude, thanksgiving, and humility all work together at building character. Perseverance in prayer and faithfulness causes our faith to increase and rescues us from pernicious worldliness.
Because of her resolute action on behalf of the spies, God granted Rahab into the line leading to David and Christ. The just do indeed live by faith.
Charles Whitaker, reflecting on God's practice of working in patterns, points out that God has wired our minds to think in patterns, such as circles. Gestalt psychologists have demonstrated that, given a set of dots that suggest a circle, our minds are prone to automatically fill in the pattern. Other ubiquitous patterns that God has created take the form of dichotomies, such as day-night, land-sea, male-female and Jew-Gentile. The members of true dichotomies must be mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive. Hence, day and night are mutually exclusive, and there is no other alternative outside of the two genders God created, male and female—attempts of mankind aside. God's dichotomies are firmly fixed in this under-the-sun order of things. While God can manipulate these dichotomies, mankind is unable to alter the parameters established by God's dichotomies. Mankind, however, often attempts to change God's dichotomies, as feminists in the matter of gender. Likewise, the world's false religions have built a dichotomy of faith and works, while the Scriptures clearly show that no such dichotomy exists. We need to be thankful for all God's patterns, and be careful that we don't misuse them.
A true Christian is sanctified by a specific body of beliefs and how he lives. No mainstream church in America has ever yielded itself to the right doctrines.
Richard Ritenbaugh, contrasting Roald Amundsen's sterling exploratory skills in reaching the South Pole with the prideful Robert Scott, asks if we are learning to navigate through life toward God's Kingdom like Jesus Christ. As our example, He has already done the heavy lifting; our job is to follow his lead. John C. Maxwell, in his Law of Navigation, presents four laws of leadership: 1) Navigators draw on past experiences. Christianity is a process of building character that we absorb as we live, using true principles culled from our and others' experiences. 2) Navigators examine conditions before making a commitment. We should examine ourselves and count the cost of our spiritual journey. 3) Navigators listen to others, seeking wisdom and godly advice. 4) Navigators ensure their conclusions represent both faith and fact. Christianity is something we do, combining firm, unyielding belief with vigorous productivity.
The healing of the paralytic is a remarkable event. Significantly, Jesus honors the faith of the paralytic's friends who lowered him through the roof.
We are intrigued by supernatural power, and many seek to display it. Yet the Scriptures show the activity of the Holy Spirit in ways that are commonly missed.
Often physical prosperity works against godly character and spiritual well-being. To be rich toward God means to seek His Kingdom first, live His way, and trust Him.
John Ritenbaugh, soberly reflecting on the $19 trillion dollar national debt and with 25% of American private citizens two days away from bankruptcy, he warns that the prudent shouldn't continue to live in a fool's paradise, but should make common sense preparations, like the ant, (Proverbs 6:6-8) storing up provisions for at least a season. Prophetic warnings are given to motivate preparation. Both the watchman and the one who hears (Ezekiel 3:17) have a grave responsibility to make prudent economic and spiritual preparations for bad times, tightening belts, helping themselves and others through the tough times.
Because God is completely just, we have an obligation to be content with what He has given us, to allow Him to use us for whatever purpose He desires.
Conviction is essential to faithful living, sanctification, loyalty, and faithfulness to God. Whether we compromise depends on the strength of our convictions.
Persistence in prayer does not mean an incessant pestering God into action. God always looks at our petitions from the vantage-point of His purpose.
What we believe automatically determines what we do; it is impossible to separate faith and works. If Jesus is not our source of belief, our works will suffer.