Monday, June 13, 2011

Fundamental Teachings Part 7

Since we’ve already discussed repentance, and faith toward God today we will be fleshing out the doctrine of faith, and discussing the relationship between faith and works. Yes, there is a relationship between faith and works, and it is a symbiotic one, and as we make our way through the Word of God you will see the symmetry of these two ideas laid out in the Bible.

It is astounding to me that although Paul considered things such as repentance, faith toward God, and eternal judgment, just to name a few, elementary principles of Christ, things that all believers ought to know and be familiar with, an abundance of professing Christians today have not a clue as to these doctrines of the faith, or their importance and relevance in our daily lives.

There is always a danger when we bypass the necessary for the irrelevant, or as a popular cliché so aptly states, when we focus on the minor issues and dismiss the major ones. These elementary principles of Christ, are the fundamentals of the faith, they are the bedrock, the foundation upon which our faith stands, and withstands the storms and trials of our spiritual walk. Ask any believer and they will tell you there are seasons of spiritual drought, seasons of spiritual hardships, and seasons of spiritual lack in this journey we call our walk of faith. Absent a sturdy foundation, absent a deeply rooted knowledge of the elementary principles of Christ, men’s faith is inevitably shaken once a spiritual storm is unleashed.

During the previous posts we established the definition of faith, if only in broad strokes, and established that faith is the substance necessary for us as believers, that we might see that which can only be seen by spiritual eyes. Faith in fact is the evidence of things not seen, and try as one might, they cannot peer into the spiritual absent faith.

When all else is gone, when all else has abandoned us, faith keeps us and sustains us. Faith keeps us from desperation, faith keeps us from hopelessness, faith gives us the assurance that as long as we remain in the will of God, He will be faithful in keeping us and protecting us.

When the Syrian army surrounded the city of Dothan, and Elisha’s servant became fearful of them, Elisha did not pray for the Lord to send a bigger army, he did not pray to be supernaturally translated from the place he was in to another, he simply prayed that God open the eyes of his servant, that his servant might see what he already saw. The chariots of fire were already there, the protectors of the righteous had already been dispatched, the only problem was the servant’s perception. He had no eyes of faith, and so only saw the Syrian army surrounding them. It was only when Elisha prayed that God opened the servant’s eyes, and he too saw what Elisha had been seeing all along through eyes of faith.

Because he had eyes of faith, there was no doubt in Elisha. He knew that those who were with him far outnumbered the Syrian army. He knew that His protection was assured, and that God was on his side.

2 Kings 6:17, “And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

Now before his eyes were open to the spiritual reality surrounding them, it was this selfsame servant who came to Elisha and said, ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’ having seen only the physical, having seen only the Syrian army and not the angelic hosts that had been dispatched to protect the man of God.

This is why faith is so important it keeps us from being overwhelmed with fear and apprehension when we see the enemy’s armies advancing against us. When the enemy advances, and we possess faith, with spiritual eyes we see God’s armies as well, with their chariots of fire all around us.

Faith is not hope, faith is assurance. When we say, ‘I have faith that God will heal me’, it is merely an expressed hope veiled as faith. When however we say ‘I have faith that God has healed me’, we are expressing a present assurance of an unseen event. This is the essence of faith; that we presently believe for that which we as yet do not see. We do not hope that Jesus will return, we are certain of it, faith giving us the full assurance that one day we will see our beloved Savior, in the clouds and in glory returning for a spotless and undefiled bride.

Since I said we would be discussing the relationship between faith and works today, and since there are so many misconceptions about these two symbiotic realities of the Christian walk, we will get right into it.

The first and most important thing that we must understand about faith and works is that they are not mutually exclusive, but rather they work together toward a good end. They are symbiotic, and cannot be separated in the life of the believer, because once a believer has faith, his works will prove out his faith. Faith and works are like two sides of the same coin, both being part of the whole, both necessitating that they be visible in order for the whole to be complete.

I realize it is easier to say, ‘I raised my hand in church once so I’m done, I’m good, I’m saved, redeemed, and on my way to heaven,’ but when we begin to study and search out the word of God, and the hidden things of God, we realize that when we believe in Jesus, then our lives must automatically change, we must as a direct result of believing and receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives be transformed into a new creature that goes about doing the things of the kingdom of God. If there is no fruit, if there is no transformation, if there is no evidence that faith has indeed taken root in one’s heart and as such compelled them to good works, then perhaps the individual merely had an experience but was never really saved.

James 2:18-20, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe-and tremble. But do you want to know, O foolish man that faith without works is dead?”

‘So what are you trying to say brother Mike, that we are saved by works? No, absolutely not, works cannot save you, works cannot grant you entrance into the kingdom of God, only faith can. However, what I am saying is that faith proves itself by works. This is the selfsame thing that James said in his epistle.

Now I’m going to backtrack a little, and show you in the Word why I do not believe that man can be saved by works. I realize some may be reading this today who are under this misconception, that if they simply do enough of something, they don’t have to have that abiding faith in Jesus, in His birth, death and resurrection, but rather being a ‘good person’ will earn them the right to enter the hallowed halls of heaven.

Ephesians 2:4-9, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

So did the Bible just contradict itself, where in one passage it says that faith without works is dead, and in another it says that we are saved through faith, and not of ourselves, and not of works lest anyone should boast but rather as a gift of God?

No, the Bible did not contradict itself. We are saved through grace, by faith, yet faith proves itself by works.

Faith must be seen, it must be evident, the fruit of it must be visible to the naked eye, and God increases our faith that we might show it through the works that spring forth from our faith. God sees your works as the fruit of your faith, and men see your faith by your works.

As God considers nothing we do as good works lest it come from faith and through faith, men do not see my faith as a living, viable, and visible thing unless it is accompanied by works.

As James so adequately explains the works that spring forth from our faith, he poses a question to which we must give an answer as individuals.

James 2:15-16, “If a brother or a sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘depart in peace, be warmed and filled’, but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?”

The answer is very clear, it profits nothing for us to tell someone who is hungry go and be filled, or someone who is naked go and be warmed, when our duty as children of God, when our duty as the heart, the hands and the feet of Christ is to go beyond words and help those who are in need, help those who are hurting and who are suffering.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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