An Excerpt from James Sets the Plumb Line
Faith and Works
“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give the things which are need of the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if does not have works, is dead.” 18But someone wills 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. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”
This is speaking of faith that is head knowledge alone. This is speaking of faith that is not growing into a demonstration; that has not taken hold in the heart and has not become the motivating force that governs life and brings us into obedience to God’s will and way. It is brain power without willpower or the power of the Holy Spirit working in a life.
Faith that saves is a demonstration of the living Spirit living, empowering and growing in a person and is profitable and becomes the belief system which governs the life of each individual.
Galatians 5:5-6 “For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”
Romans 1:17 “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’”
The “works of God (John 6:29, Ephesians 2:8-9, 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 3:5)” produces works-acts of obedience in which one proves the genuineness of the works of God and His faithfulness for our benefit. Works of faith build the foundation of faith that will not collapse when the “troubles” of life and the times of testing come.
Hebrews 11:31-32 “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. 32And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets:”
Acts 7:55, 60 “But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,… 60Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
1 Peter 2:12 “having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
Titus 3:1-7, 14 “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. 3For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life…14And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.”
James is telling us about our vertical (and upright relationship to God) faith-faith that does not produce works is dead and gives no testimony and bears no fruit from the work of God in a person’s life.
Faith guides our actions. If you have faith you must act like it to keep that faith alive.
Faith is measured in “feet”-as in the movement of YOURS!
Faith-an right relationship with God-will yield a right relationship with our fellow man.
Something dead is totally useless-words without actions. This speaks of a lifeless corpse from whence the spirit has departed. James is saying when your faith is not demonstrated in works-acts of obedience-you are as lifeless a dead body where the spirit/soul is gone, held captive and/or fallen asleep. This condition-being dead-renders a person unable and incapable of doing the works that God has prepared for them.
Your faith must be an active demonstration of obedience/acts that tell others your faith is real. These acts/works build a foundation of faith that will not fail during troubling times. Works of faith are your testimony to God impacting your life-renewing your mind and transforming your life. Faith prepares you to live in the fullness of all God intended as He chose to give you life and makes you able to complete the works that God preplanned, prepared and equipped you to do.
1 Timothy 1:5 “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,”
Matthew 17:20 “So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’”
Luke 17:6 “So the Lord said, ‘If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.’”
Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit to those who believe in Jesus.
1 Corinthians 12:9 “to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by £the same Spirit,”
Show me who and what you are. You are to become a demonstration of the “good works” of the faith that is given to you by the work of the Holy Spirit. You are to bring forth “good works”-the fruit of righteousness and living a life that shows what God has done in your life. When we bring our dark side into the Light, God’s work is revealed. Show me-become a demonstration project-your faith with “good works”; the ones that God prepared beforehand and provides the strength for you to accomplish.
Habakkuk’s faith is alive, actively producing good works.
Habakkuk 3:16-19 “ When I heard, my body trembled; My lips quivered at the voice; Rottenness entered my bones; And I trembled in myself, That I might rest in the day of trouble. When he comes up to the people, He will invade them with his troops. 17 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls—18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.19 The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.
Luke gives us the story-a show me demonstration-of a work of faith,
Luke 5:17-20 “Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. 18Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. 19And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus. 20When He saw their faith, He said to him, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you.’”
Faith with works is truly living; living to the fullest in the abundant life that God has prepared and equipped the believer to live.
Dead without life, not bearing fruit-nothing coming forth-no response (see above and for extra study look at Jude 12,
Matthew 7:19, 12:33-37 and Luke 6:43-49).
Set the Plumb Line
The church has debated the supposed conflict of Paul-justified by faith- and James-justified by works-for centuries. Their debate proves, there is no conflict.
Paul tells us our walk with the Lord begins in being given the gift by the Holy Spirit so that we may believe and accept the gift of salvation. Jesus Christ fulfilled the law and gave us the right to accept His work.
The faith Paul speaks of here is a horizontal faith-faith that saves and does not require us to accomplish works, we just have to accept. This is about what has already been done by Jesus on our behalf.
Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Galatians 3:23-26 “But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. “
James says that once salvation is activated more will come. The Holy Spirit will give you a larger faith so that you might produce works-yield fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25, 1 Corinthians 12)-of testimony and demonstration of what God has done and is able to do through those who have committed and are submitted to Him and His service.
Works are a natural product of living within the blessings and magnitude of what has been done, for you.
Paul wrote to the Romans of the work justification by faith-“it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes
(Romans 1:16-17).” Paul told the Romans that the work had been DONE by Jesus and accepted by the people of the church at Rome brought salvation to them.
Paul wrote to them “your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. (Romans 1:8). He was encouraging them in the work they were able to DO in demonstrating their faith, so that evidence of God’s work was known through out the world.
We should live as Paul and be able to proclaim just as Paul did that because of what the Lord has DONE (Acts 9:1-22. 2
Timothy 4:17-18) Paul was able to DO the works of faith and proclaim near the end of his life, “I have fought…I have finished…I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:6-8)”.
2 Timothy 4:6-7 “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Paul’s ability to be alive in Christ Jesus, produce good works and “keep the faith” brought the comfort of Paul as an obedient servant, even as he came to the end of his life here on earth. Yes, Paul was imprisoned and faced challenges. Paul lived in the power and strength of God working in and through him.
1 Thessalonians 3:5-8 “For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain. 6But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you—7therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. 8For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.”
Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.”
The teachings of Paul and James as regards “faith, works and state of being” are reconciled in Jude 3, as Jude encourages his readers to “contend earnestly”, and Jesus speaks in Matthew 7:18-20 (see also Jude 12).
Jude 3 “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was on for all delivered to the saints.”
Matthew 7:18-20 “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
True faith comes fully dressed (Ephesians 5:10-20) ready for works. Also see Luke 24:29.
After sending Sharon to the kitchen for a frying pan, Joe instructed Joel to walk and he followed Joel across the room. Laughter covered the room as Joe wielded the frying pan in a mock beating as the prophet’s voice announced the proceeding in tongues.
I shrank back not knowing what to expect.
Then Sharon interpreted “You have been beating this man with prayer for years. God has heard and He will answer.”
We all stood there speechless as I turned red as a beet and began the process of accepting the Word from God. Joel and the audience just stared. The truth sinking in and becoming a reality took time.
Over and over again those words rang in my ears. Life changing events do not announce themselves beforehand so you are not always prepared. Elijah House Basic I and II classes in Chelsea, Alabama had exceeded the expectations. God shaped and molded us thru the teaching but being broken had to come first. God had His ways. The joy and pain of this event were indelibly impressed on our minds.
I don’t know that I prayed in the right way but they were abundant. This man, I had married, missed so much of life; the one I believe God had intended, because of His anger and bitter roots. Our family needed help and I concluded that God was the only one that could do it, so I shot up prayers, day and night.
God has truly answered those prayers. We are not the same people after His intervention into our lives. He was even able to tune us together enough for each of us to earn a Master’s degree in Education together and to write a book as co authors. For those who know our history and have lived it with us, this is nothing short of a great BIG miracle.
It all started with me trusting God. I trusted no one, not even myself and my husband had not proven himself to be trustable. God showed me that I could trust and obey and He would do the rest. It became very clear that even if I could not trust my husband at that time, I could trust God and I lived in that truth for a long time.
Joel and I celebrated our 51st anniversary last year. When this event happened we had been married thirty-six (36) years. These days Joel and I lean on God first and then put our foot forth and trust Him to guide us. I still pray for Joel but now we pray for each other and pray a lot together as we read and study God’s Word. We seek how we will answer the Call.
A preacher friend of ours told a story from his less than creditable youth, when he and two other equally adventurous boys trapped and fished down in the South Mississippi bayous. This day fishing t’weren’t good so they stopped to check the traps, hoping to take home supper.
One of the traps held a catch but it took a bit of hard thinking to ‘figger” out just what to do with the contents. The yowling and growling convinced them that taking in this catch was not going to be fun or easy.
They finally came upon the idea of using a suitcase left in the trunk of the car. All it took was a little teamwork and quick thinking to complete the tedious task then, the next question popped up; what are we going to do with it now that it is in there?
As the suitcase began to slow it’s raucous gallop somewhat and the roars and rumbles got a little quieter, the natural mischievous nature of the threesome began to rise up over their fear.
After carefully placing the suitcase in the nearby roadway, they hid behind the bushes. It was a short wait before they heard a car coming over the hill. Anticipation turned to disappointment when it drove on by.
Excitement was reclaimed as the car reeled around and stopped by the suitcase lying in the road. One man jumped from the car, looked around, grabbed the suitcase and jumped back into the already crowded car. Tires squealed as they took off.
About a 100 yards down the road the car screeched to an almost halt; four doors opened as it careened wildly across the pavement and six passengers bailed out. One hurtin’, injured Bobcat headed back for his natural domain; all the while keeping folks both near and far posted on his whereabouts and loudly proclaiming his thoughts on the doings of the human beings in that part of South Mississippi.
Three boys went home empty handed with minds full of the adventure and the wisdom of life. Nobody we know of hung around long enough to get a report or interview from the passengers in the car.
JRCM INC @ 2008
Marriage, What’s In the Suitcase. As marriage partners we carry a “suitcase” full of experiences and pictures of life, which may or may not be beneficial. The things in the “suitcase” may help or hinder our married life. It is food for thought.
How Will You Answer the Call?
“Stop, look, and listen.” pick up your copy of God’s Word, the Bible, and read God’s Words. God’s Words, the Bible, are a call to the lost and instruction for the edification of the saints. Rightly handled (2 Timothy. 2:15), these words will bring Truth to Light in your life and the lives of those around you. God’s Word read under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, with your permission, will bring about a renewal of your mind so that you are able to live in the fullness of all God intended for you.
God has planned for you to be fitted for kingdom service. He has prepared garments of learning, protection, and sustenance for you to clothe and equip yourself for service (Ephesians 6:10–17) and provided His Word, the Bible, for instruction and the Holy Spirit to counsel and guide you as you learn and apply His lessons to your life (Romans 12:2). God knows your every need, and He knows what is ahead and behind you. Wherever you go, He is already there. He will walk every step of the way with you if you let Him.
God’s Word is the Way, the Truth, and the Light, ancient words preserved for us to find our way. God’s Word is life to sinners that were, in the first place, created for a purpose, to glorify our Father, God (1 Corinthians. 6:20).
God’s word is;
2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
Sharper than a two-edged sword-
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Truth for the building up and edification of the saints-
Ephesians 4:12-16 “For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”
God’s Word is alive and at work in those who hear and read it, just as it was in the days when Ezra read God’s Word to the Israelites returning from Babylon. The reading/hearing of God’s Word brought His people into the conviction of sin. The power of God’s Word astonished Ezra.
Ezra 9:4 “Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel assembled to me, because of the transgression of those who had been carried away captive, and I sat astonished until the evening sacrifice.”
The midnight hour (Matthew 25:1–13) when we shall be going home is fast approaching. It is time to “awaken from sleep” (Romans 13:11, 1 Thessalonians. 5:4–6), be alert (Matthew 24:42), and “being sent out the midst of wolves … be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). God’s word is as a sword cutting to “separate even the bone from the marrow” to equip us for this work.
God has issued The 11:45 Call, warning us the midnight hour and day of judgment will come. You can be prepared, equipped and ready in every way, but you must choose.
How will you answer the Call?
The 11:45 Call
for JUDE 20
Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you brethren to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
“I do not know all the answers. Many times I don’t even know the question. But I do know who holds the answers and who holds my tomorrow.”
Walking by faith requires that we let God lead the walk. OK I accept that and try to live by that. Then God shows me a picture; I actually do my best walking when I come from being down-usually physically but sometimes emotionally or mentally- and all I can do is to look up. It is often these times when God issues a call, “Arise my child”, “follow me”, “lo I will be with you”, “come walk with me” “I have a plan for you”.
My first response is often but Lord, I can’t, I am not doing well right now, I need to be fit for your service. This is the time when 2 Corinthians 9:9-11 and Philippians 4:13 come into play and I need to be reminded and gain a deeper understanding of just what is happening here.
Receiving the Keys to Wayne’s White Merc was one of those times.
Inner City Kids Find the Father Lode
Receiving the keys to Wayne Carr’s big white “Merc” at the HIMC Sunday evening service ended preparation and began the trip-adventure-step of faith. It was both a beginning and an end. Today culminated six (6) months of intense fund raising and learning experiences. As the youth worked to earn the money for this trip, they had learned responsibility, give and take and hard work has its own rewards. Individuals and businesses demonstrated their faith by offering opportunities for the youth to “work” for a donation. They had cleaned up Valley Gas’s recreation area, served as waiters and waitresses for corporate banquets and special events, cleaned up for the elderly and the not so elderly, and provided sitting services for both human and animal clients.
The goal had been reached and the journey began as the Rock House Kids and staff left downtown Jackson at 7:00 A.M. on Monday morning August 1, 1994, destination Tifton, Ga. and the 1994 Eastern AIM Youth Camp. No sooner had we assembled the caravan and put pedal to the metal on I-20 than I was struck with a few pertinent facts.
We asked these kids and their parents, who had known us for approximately 4 months, to trust us to take them 429 miles there and 429 miles back, feed them, care for them etc. for one week. Wow, what courage and trust these youngsters had. I was struck with admiration. I still have no idea of what they really expected, but I pray we measured up. I didn’t stop to think at that time that we had presented little evidence for their trust except to love them. We were working on very limited worldly resources and a lot of faith.
By reason of our time of arrival we skipped the part of camp where you wander around getting acquainted and went straight to the eating part and then on to the evening service time; we got to see God begin his work immediately. We had seen his hand in the preparation, but now hearts were laid before him at the altar and our kids were some of the first to respond. This was just the first blessing.
Joseph took with him, in August, in the South, his big winter coat, fit for the Arctic. Joseph wears it in new circumstances, kind of like a security blanket (he wore it the 1st 3 months at The Rock House). I knew things were going well when the 2nd day he took off his coat. It went back on a few times during the week., but watching him play basketball and chat with the other guys, with out the coat, I knew all was O. K.
After the initial step to the altar, our kids became like thirsty sponges , they took notes, studied, came to followup everyday, asked questions and wanted all God had to give. I’ll never forget Tameka and Sha studying and going over their notes by flashlight in the middle of the night.
Through the week they shared, swam, played, ate and waited patiently for every class to begin. On Thursday they sang the special music and were well received (even the choreography). Shewania, a staff member, blessed us all several times during the week with beautiful song.
Comments that were made by the kids such as “it was great not to have to worry about getting shot at” and “things were so nice at camp”; made us realize what the week really meant to them.
Joseph told the rest of The Rock House Kids that “camp was cool”. All of the kids who went have expressed a desire to go back next year and are already making plans. But most important, we see a difference in their lives and they ask for prayer to live as Christians in a tough world, where they take the new skills learned from the whole adventure.
God provided for this trip in a wonderful way. After buying pizza on the way home, we even rolled back into town with $.07 left over.
I love it when God’s plan comes together.
This is all I need to answer the question WHY but then here I go again?
Note: Joel and Brenda Blakely were part of THE ROCKHOUSE staff from 1992 to 1995.
We learned maybe more than they did. This act of faith has helped us so many times when we began to question God’s call to face uncertain times and circumstances.
Here he is again asking us to GO!!!-at our advanced age and some what less than perfect physical condition and on top of that, without worldly resources and serve Him with all that He has blessed us to have. Help me to praise you God. Thank you for giving me the opportunity especially as I am unworthy. I am so blessed.