Must faith be accompanied by works?

Forgive me, Father, I have sinned; it has been four months since my last blog post.

Just kidding!  . . . About the asking for forgiveness part.  Not kidding that it’s been four months since I’ve written anything here.  My personal life has been overwhelming and consuming and causing much anxiety — a ‘down-cast heart.’  I have simply not had the energy to blog.

But God is active and living and He is ever-present, dwelling in my innermost being, as I live through the storms of life.  Though the world may slay me, yet will I praise Him.

So, getting to the point, must faith be accompanied by works?  . . . Of course not!  We are saved by grace through faith, and we are sustained each and every day by His grace through our faith; through our trust in Him; our resting in the work He has already accomplished.

But what about the book of James?

But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? (James 2:20, NASB)

Gee, thanks for the encouragement, brother James.

No, sorry.  He got that part wrong.  Faith is IT.  Sola fide.  We are justified by faith alone.

The five chapters of the book of James are filled with things we must do.  There is not one mention of the death or resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  No mention of the divinity of Jesus.  No mention of our forgiveness or justification by faith.  James believes we are justified by works.

You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. (James 2:24, NASB)

Did you know that the book of James was ABSENT from the first list of New Testament books known as the Muratorian Fragment.  James’ epistle was not confirmed as a book of the Bible, included in the canon of the New Testament, until the fourth century A.D.!  James was added to the Bible in AD 367, after the creation of Roman Catholicism!

Yet there is an excellent argument to be made concerning the fact that including the book of James in the Bible is important because it illustrates the differences between Paul and James, between a life of faith and a life of works. (Click here for a Bible Study by Living God Ministries on that topic.)

Sure James makes some good points, such as “if you stumble at one part of the Law of Moses, you are guilty of the entire thing.”  But, mainly, when I read the book of James, I think, “Man, he’s a raging legalist!”

I’m thankful that I have been set free from a life of works.  I am thankful to live a life of freedom in Christ Jesus; a life where I am free to walk in the Spirit, and live each day according to the Law of the Spirit of Life, and not according to the Law of Sin and death.

 

 

November 6, 2019  9:58 AM

Jesus Christ IS the TRUTH.

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“I am the way, the truth, and the life!” Jesus answered. “Without me, no one can go to the Father.” (John 14:6, CEV)

Jesus is “the truth,” and we can grow in our knowledge of the truth by growing to know the Lord Jesus.

This life of faith begins when God calls us.  When we were lost and dead in our sins, He called out to us and revealed to us the gospel. (Romans 5:10). If we respond to the gospel message with faith, if we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, then we can begin this brand-new life where God leads us “from faith to faith.” (Romans 1:17)

And like the Israelites who were set free from slavery only to wander around in circles in the wilderness for years and years, we too will have our years of wandering in the wilderness. For me, it was 15 years of being deluded by lies and false teaching, wandering in circles, passing my days as if I were stuck in a cage.

As Bob George used to say, “Truth sets you free. Error binds you.”

This captivity is alluded to in Isaiah 14, when Isaiah prophesied about Satan’s future by saying:

Those who see you will stare; they will ponder your fate: “Is this the man who shook the earth and made the kingdoms tremble, who turned the world into a desert and destroyed its cities, who refused to let the captives return to their homes?” (Isaiah 14:16-17, BSB)

He refused to let the captives return home!  Satan is the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy. He uses lies and falsehood to destroy us, to turn Christians into captives. And he refuses to let his captives return home.

But JESUS the MESSIAH is the mighty warrior who sets us free from our cages!  Who fights on our behalf using the TRUTH to set us free.  In other words, HE sets us free because He IS THE TRUTH.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32, KJV)

After 15 years of being a captive, Jesus, the truth, set me free by leading me to discover my complete forgiveness (thank you, Bob George & Classic Christianity), and soon afterwards had me learning how to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ (thank you, Aaron Budjen). We are forgiven people, and understanding this will totally transform your Christian life.

Since being set free, I have drawn close to Jesus; I have grown to know His peace and His rest . . . Even in the midst of life’s pains and problems — His peace which passes understanding remains with me.

I want others to know this joy that exists in the midst of suffering.  This new life of freedom is so exciting!  And it’s so real and true, that to me, it’s comparable to a Near Death Experience.  It has been that life-changing for me.  Just complete night and day.

So, my life today is about the freedom He’s given me.  It’s not a freedom to sin, but a freedom to grow to know Him and His love for me.  A freedom to receive all spiritual blessings, and to grow every day in the knowledge of His will:  His glorious ‘last will and testament.’  It is a freedom to relax in the Promised Land of REST, freely enjoying His wonders, His beauty, His grace and His peace.  Nothing can separate me from the love of God! And nothing can remove me from this land of peace.

Meanwhile, it hurts when I see my brothers and sisters living in cages.   I write this blog today while somewhat heavy in heart; a good friend and sister in the Lord is being lured into a cage through the false doctrine of dispensationalism:  the teaching that paints God as a schizophrenic madman who is mercurial and inconsistent.  A God that is impossible to know. . .  But I must let her go and let her stumble and learn; my friend is on her own journey of faith.

I can’t change anyone’s mind, but what I can do is write these words today and declare that there is a strong and mighty Lion who is fighting for us – the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  He is fighting to set the captive free.  He is the truth who can set you free.

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

 

 

March 9, 2019  3:41 PM

What is the unpardonable sin?

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What is the unpardonable sin?  What is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?  I believe it is the sin of unbelief.

The writer of the book of Hebrews explains that there are two ways to commit the sin of unbelief.  The first way is to reject the mercy of the living God. The second way is for a believer to reject the promise of rest.

Writing to his Hebrew brothers and sisters, the anonymous author pleads with them to believe in Jesus as their Messiah.

“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12

The author illustrates this with the story of the Hebrews who refused to enter the Promised Land.  Their sin of unbelief prevented them from entering into the land of Israel, and instead they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.

 “So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” Hebrews 3:19

God promised them the land of Israel, and they did not believe that He could deliver on His promise.  That’s a hefty sin!  The author of Hebrews explains that their unbelief was an act of disobedience.

 “And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?  So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” Hebrews 3:18-19

The unbelief of the Israelites was a foreshadowing, and the reality is the sin of rejecting the gospel.  To reject the free gift of salvation that is being offered to you today is essentially to tell God, “I don’t believe you.  You are not trustworthy.”  Again, a very hefty sin. 

We need to believe in the gospel and be saved because we all have sin and we all are spiritually dead (whether Jew or Gentile).  Believing in the gospel message allows us to enter the true promised rest. We rest from our works of self-righteousness, and we trust that God has done all of the work Himself.

And that is where the second “sin of unbelief” comes in.  In chapter four, the author of Hebrews switches his audience and begins to talk to believers.  Hebrews 4 is often titled, “The Believer’s Rest.”

“Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any of you may seem to have come short of it.”  Hebrews 4:1

As a born-again believer, if we fail to enter His rest, we have failed to believe in the complete forgiveness of sins.  In other words, we are still trying to do work that will make us holy and righteous and good.

Hebrews chapter four explains this in detail.

“For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:10-11

The land of Israel was a land of rest because all of the homes were already built, the vineyards were planted, the roads were cleared and the wells were dug.  The land of the New Covenant is a land of rest for us today because all of the work has already been done.  Obedience has been accomplished:  God Himself came to earth and obeyed the Law of Moses.  Forgiveness has been given:  God died on our behalf, so the debt has been paid in full.   Salvation is being offered:  He redeemed and justified us through His complete forgiveness of sins, and He now offers the gift of life — His Holy Spirit — through His work of resurrecting from the dead.

The great Bob George used to emphasize that the gospel is defined in 1 Corinthians 15, and that it is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We can add nothing to the gospel, and if we do we will be led astray into false doctrines.

If you are an unbeliever, we plead with you to believe in the gospel.

If you are a believer, we plead with you to give up trying to “work for God,” trying to “serve God,” and simply to REST.

We must believe completely that the only thing we can trust in today, tomorrow and next week is his death, burial and resurrection.

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Click here for an excellent verse-by-verse Bible Study on the book of Hebrews.  Aaron Budjen, a Hebrew himself, has made all of his messages available for free at his website, http://www.LivingGodMinistries.net

 

June 6, 2018  11:11 AM