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JUNE NEWSLETTER

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Greg Laurie has a podcast I read frequently.

I especially liked this very practical discussion on faith.

I trust it will be helpful.

“Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘Have faith in God.’”

—Mark 11:22 

Sometimes, we make faith a little bit too mystical when it is, in fact, something we apply wherever we go.

 

For instance, when you go into a restaurant, you apply faith that the restaurant employees are following health standards and preparing your food properly. When you board a plane, you apply faith that the plane will take off, fly to its destination, and land.

The same is true when you go to the doctor’s office. You have faith they’ve been trained properly and know what they’re doing. And when you have a prescription filled, you have faith that the pharmacist is giving you the correct medication and dosage.

We apply faith every day.

Jesus said, “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22 NLT). Yet some people balk at that. They say, “Faith in God? Why, that is outrageous!” However, they apply faith in many other things. But they have a hard time putting their faith in God.

There is no safer place to put your faith than in God.

The Bible defines faith this way: “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1 NLT). The very existence of your faith despite your circumstances is a proof of God.

Faith is like a muscle. It gets stronger through use. Muscles build up when we break them down through use. And if we don’t use our muscles, they will atrophy.

The same principle is true of faith. It’s something that we need to apply. It’s something that we need to use. Faith cannot be inoperative. We must use it.

It is by this faith that we are saved as Christians. Ephesians 2:8–9 reminds us, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (NLT).

What saves is faith alone. But the faith that saves is never alone. In other words, if you have real faith, there will be evidence in your life.

People can tell that you have faith, but it isn’t because you say you have it. Rather, it’s because they can see your actions. They can’t see your heart, but they can see the things that you do.

We are to live by faith as followers of Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “The just shall live by faith” (Galatians 3:11 NKJV). It doesn’t say the just shall live by feelings or circumstances.

God is the one who works, but He chooses to work primarily through human means. And faith can make the difference between something happening and not happening. We know that Jesus could do no mighty work in His hometown of Nazareth because of unbelief (see Matthew 13:58).

The writer of Hebrews tells us, “It is impossible to please God without faith” (Hebrews 11:6 NLT). We want to make sure we are using the faith that God has given us.

 

See you in Church,

Dan

Does James Require “Works” for Salvation?

Hear these words of James from James 2:15-17…

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (ESV).

 

James made bold statements suggesting faith itself dies without action.  Clearly James was trying to get his readers' attention.  Later in history, Martin Luther took up an offense against the letter of James because it seemed to suggest “works” as a basis for salvation. The letter of James and the letters of Paul seem to stand in opposition. 

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

not a result of works, so that no one may boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9

 

For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.  For what does the Scripture say?  “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” - Romans 4:2-3

 

I believe the words of James and the words of Paul go hand in hand.  They work together quite well actually.  For starters, let’s look at the Koine Greek word for work which James used from the root, “ἔργον” or transliterated as “ergon”.  This word is used all over the New Testament. According to the Strongs concordance it’s used a total of 176 times!  According to the entry “ergon” is used in situations for employment, to how something is accomplished and even as an action or deed (see Strong’s Concordance).  Therefore, I would suggest a better reading of James’ words “faith without action is dead.”

 

This view is supported by the teachings of Jesus when he calls his disciples to follow his example by… Taking up their cross (Luke 9:23); Love like he loves (John 13:34); Go therefore and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).  These are all actions which follow salvation.  We are called into action to follow Jesus' example. 

 

How I read James:

Faith = Salvation + Action

 

Not!

Faith + Action = Salvation

 

James calls our faith in Jesus into action!  If you have hope in Jesus don’t let it stop there! 

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations!  A faith in action is alive. 

Your action is never to gain salvation, but our action is a response to the fact we have salvation.

 

News Article Written by Scott Carpenter

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