Gems 2014 — November 20 Scripture Selection: James 2

Guest post by Jeanette Andrade

November 20 Scripture Selection: James 2

Food for Thought: James 2:14, 17-16

Who could resist this hot topic?! Well, I sure can’t. But before we address today’s selection, let us review Romans 10:8-10: “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 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.”

Drawing from both James and Romans, we can come to some conclusions regarding the whole faith versus works question: First, believing that there is a God is not what saves you from your sins and the consequences of them. (Remember, even the demons believe and tremble!) Nor does faith alone save you. There are plenty of people who put their faith in a false religion, and though they may be sincere, they still have not entered the saving faith. The apostle Paul makes it clear that the faith must be based on the “word of faith” which he and his co-laborers preached (Rom. 10:8). If it is based on some false teaching, the foundation will crumble. Once someone believes in the truth of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, then there is something to do, something that should naturally flow from his/her lips: the profession of faith. If he/she truly believes it, it will come out of his/her mouth. That is an action. In addition, precisely because he/she believes, he/she will take action as evidence of that faith.

James 2: 21-25 gives the examples of the faith in action of Abraham and Rahab. Abraham could not just say, “Yes, Lord, I believe you,” and stay where he was. He so trusted the word of God that he went where the Lord sent him. He later proved his faith again by taking Isaac to offer him as a sacrifice (vs. 21). If he hadn’t obeyed God, then his so-called faith in God and His word would have been empty. Really, it would not have been true faith. (See Gen. ch. 11-22 for his story.) Likewise, because Rahab believed in the God of the Israelites and knew the destruction that would come to her people, she took action to save herself and her family. Her faith compelled her to do something, something which saved her and her family (See Joshua ch. 2-6 for her story).

Now, just what works are involved in expressing our faith, or as evidence of our faith? Certainly, they are nothing man-imposed. There is not out there (other than believing with our heart and confessing with our mouth) a list of requirements written by any man, council, or denomination in order to be saved or to maintain our salvation. However, if the person has truly been born again, there will be evidence of his/her new spirit and a natural desire to please the Father. That evidence is found in the fruit (that which is produced) of the Spirit. Such fruit is found in Galatians 5:22, 23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” A person, though not yet perfected or mature, who has accepted the new life in Jesus will show signs of it by doing things that reflect the presence of the Spirit within him/her. It is unavoidable because a person who has received Jesus as Savior has received His nature (II Pet. 1:2-4). He/she will do what Jesus does. That is why the Word tells us to be led by the Holy Spirit and walk by the Spirit (Rom. 8:13). Everyone must make decisions as to what to do based on faith according to the situations at hand, not just to fulfill some imposed quota.

It all comes down to this: I do not HAVE to do any particular thing to impress God or earn my salvation; rather, I WANT to do things that please Him because I love Him. No pressure. Just love.

Digging Deeper (What scriptures can further enhance today’s reading?):

Getting Personal (What has God shown you in today’s reading?):

Confession of Faith (Example: Lord, based on Mat. 1:21 and 23, I understand that Jesus is God…)

Important Events on This Day (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.):

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10 Responses to Gems 2014 — November 20 Scripture Selection: James 2

  1. cdquarles says:

    Thank you for a very important lesson.

  2. jsue says:

    Thanks Alfred and Cd. I really appreciate your comments, especially on such an important topic.

  3. Jeannette,

    Thank you for your response. With all respect, if you thought I was suggesting that salvation is by works, in whole or in part, then you completely missed the points I was trying to make.

    Abraham did what he was required to do. But he was not commanded to kill his son. His command was to “offer” his son “for a burnt offering”.

    If one offers to give another his house, has title been transferred by that statement? Is the offer synonymous with the transfer? Or has it not been done?

    By the same measure, if God commands one person to offer another his house, is that the same as commanding that the title be transferred?

    By the same measure, when God commanded Abraham to “offer” his son for a burnt offering, that is not the same thing as commanding that Abraham take his son’s life.

    We all know that God had no intention that Abraham should kill his son, Isaac. Are we to believe that it would have been good if God had actually ordered Abraham to do that which He didn’t want Abraham to do?

    We should all be able to agree that it would be obscene and evil for God to command any of His children to take human life. Death was caused by sin, and by sin alone. Therefore to cause more death is to do more sin. It’s no more complicated than that.

    To try to add to this simple logic is to cover up the truth of the matter we were discussing. And while I don’t believe you did this intentionally, the world is overflowing with “Christians” who are trying to do just that, and turn our faith into the opposite of what it was. Therefore, to defend our faith requires stating openly that taking life is always wrong, evil, and a sin, when the question should arise.

    We can also go into The New Testament to see the many places that forgiveness and non-repayment of violence is explicitly commanded, and the prophecies that show that God’s plan is for the Church to lay down all physical arms and allow the enemy to do what he can to us without physical resistance. The very opposite of Islam (as I’ve discussed with DirkH and Maurizio Morabito), and also the opposite of Jewish doctrine. BUT NOT THE OPPOSITE OF THE TEACHINGS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

    This is the central problem with this issue: people, both Christian and non-Christian, have been taught that The Old Testament is at odds with The New Testament on this question. It is utterly impossible for the two testaments to be at odds on a question of truth or what God’s will is or what God’s true expectations are for man. The two testaments are in perfect harmony on every question that can be imagined, and only when one tries to find ways to twist The Old Testament to say something different from its original intent is it possible to find “differences” between them. That way lies not only blasphemy, but also apostasy and, of course, death.

    The enemy will claim his captives to be the true Church. His claim obviously doesn’t make it so. What of it, then? Are we to simply go mute because we’re saved by faith and not works? He can generally do what he wants to in this age, because God lets him. Are we to believe that God has constrained us from calling the enemy’s works evil and a sin, simply because that enemy acts in Jesus’ name? God forbid!

    Richard T. Fowler

    • jsue says:

      Mr. Fowler, believe me when I say that what is written is in no way a response to any of your previous comments. In fact, the daily devotionals are usually written one month or more in advance. And, due to the format, since we are reading through the New Testament a chapter or a section of a chapter at a time, the topic of the daily is mostly limited to the particular selection of scripture for the day. My comments are drawn from the daily reading, not really from the previous contributions of others to the blog. That said, thank you for your comments. I do appreciate your input.

      • I see. Well, I thank you for your thoughts, and they are very timely, because they do read like a response. Your work is greatly appreciated.

        Richard

        • jsue says:

          thanks so much, Richard. I’d also like you to know that, because I am often out of the country and do not access the internet while I am away, I am also often very slow to read and respond to the readers. My silence is not in anyway a reflection of my responses to the comments. Often, by the time I respond, the issue addressed has come and gone, and people have moved on to something else.

        • Very well, thanks!

          RTF

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