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A Faith That Works

(John 8:39; Hebrews 11:13-19; James 2:18-24)

Lesson 2 -- first quarter 2005
December 12, 2004

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2004, Christian Light Publications

Probing Your Own Heart

What does your life reveal about your spiritual parentage?

Is your living energized by your faith?

Building on Some Foundational Concepts

Our spiritual parentage directs our living.

Anyone can claim to be a redeemed child of God. But only the redeemed will live according to the life of the Father in the power of life in the Son. "Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). When God is our Father, our deeds demonstrate His life. Notice an extremely practical demonstration of this in Matthew 5:44,45.

Godly faith produces godly perspectives and godly lives.

Hebrews 11:13-16 shows what a living faith will do to your thinking and your living. Your relationship with God (faith, you know) will determine your values and your deeds. When your values and deeds fail to mesh with your declared faith, don't give up -- go to God for renewal, courage, and grace. Of such "God is not ashamed to be called their God" (Hebrews 11:16).

Works make visible the invisible.

We live in an age when many declare that their faith is between them and God alone, insisting that nobody else can know their heart and their thoughts. They ignore that visible deeds give discernible form to that which they thought was hidden in their heart. This reality expressed in James 2:18 is not something to fear but something to embrace. Because of it, our lives can magnify the picture of Jesus and redemption painted by our lips!

Questions and Responses

Can faith exist alone?

I don't know how many dead people you have seen, but I can declare with certainty that everyone of those bodies was in that state because its spirit had left it. We know such bodies must be disposed of because of their uselessness -- you know the other reasons also, I'm sure.

God says faith is that way as well: "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" (James 2:20). How foolish to insist on living by faith alone! While it is true that salvation is by faith alone because of Christ's redeeming grace, it is also true that we are saved unto good works (Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 1:10; 2 Timothy 3:17). When the spirit is taken from a human body, the body dies. When works are taken from faith, faith also dies. No, faith does not live alone. It can't! "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (James 2:26).

But faith really is more important than works, right?


You see, without works, faith cannot act. Think of your own body. You really cannot fathom being you without having it. What we sometimes call "the real you" (your spirit) gives life to your body. But without your body, how is the real you to make itself useful? Similarly, works and faith require each other: "Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?" (James 2:22).

We simply cannot say accurately and Biblically that one is more important than the other.

But faith is required for salvation!

True enough. But look again at the first part of James 2:22. How can faith do anything without works? Then look again at the second half of that verse. Works perfect faith! Does not that seem to suggest that faith must work if it is to bring us to salvation?

James 2:24 does more than suggest that concept: "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

The devils believe, tremble...and are damned. Their belief is incapable of working toward active, saving faith in Jesus. But you are different, so "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12).

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