Wednesday, March 7, 2012

40 Days with James ~ Day 15 ~ Dead Faith, Part 2

Day 15 ~ Dead Faith, Part 2
James 2:18-19  But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.  You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-- and shudder.
Yesterday we learned that faith alone in Christ saves us, but that faith is never alone.  It is always active in love.  At this point it may seem as if James wants only to talk about works.  But, upon closer examination of the reading it would seem that James is primarily concerned about faith!  The issue of works comes up here because those who claim to have faith have no works to prove it.  It is great that folks show up to church and confess the creed and say that believe there is one God.  The demons have no problem doing that, even with fear.  But faith is not merely a matter of knowing facts.  It is a matter of believing promises.  Such a belief is recognizable to others through the way a Christian lives.

Here is an example of what I mean:  Every Christian will readily say that they believe it is God who provides them with their daily bread.  We pray for it in the Lord's Prayer and believe that God answers that prayer faithfully, right?  We say we believe that, but then how do we live?  Do we give of our means as if we believe God will provide for us again the next day?  When charities call and ask for money, how much do you give?  Do you give in a way that, shall we say, stings a little?  Or, do you throw a couple bucks their way knowing that you're going to get a tax break?  I am not saying tax breaks are sinful, but I am saying that the way we give rarely reflects our confession that God will give us daily bread.  It's like telling your spouse you love them but doing everything you can to ignore them.  Inactive love is not love.

We do not actually think it is safe to act on our faith and that is what causes us to hold back.  This demonstrates that we don't believe that God will do what He said.  We do the same thing with salvation.  We confess that salvation is a gift from Jesus and there is nothing left to do to be saved, but then we come up with all kinds of legalistic practices to make sure we are in.  Typically, those practices are very self-serving with no regard for the neighbor.  We do good things, not to demonstrate love, but to make ourselves feel saved.  

Faith is not a knowledge of mere facts.  Faith is not merely knowing who God is and what He has done.  It is believing that He has done it for me.  The demons fear Jesus and want to flee from Him (Mark 1:24).  But faith believes that Jesus has come for me, to love me and grant me all things by His grace.  Such certainty, wrought by the Holy Spirit, enables and empowers us to act on our faith in love, knowing that we have all things in Christ and Christ has us.

Confess:  Merciful Father, I believe that you have loved me with an everlasting love because Jesus shed His blood for me.  But, I confess, that at times my faith is found lacking.  I cling to the securities of this life more than the promises you make.  Forgive me, dear Lord.  Do not permit me to have a mere knowledge of the truth, but teach me to trust the truth and live in accordance with it.  I ask this in Jesus name.  AMEN

Challenge:  Write a check to a charity for an amount that makes you uncomfortable.

Pastor Bob

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