Category: New Life

Real Joy of the Heart

Real Joy of the Heart

The issue I have seen in the lives of many believers is that they don’t live like they have real joy in their hearts. They have Christ in their lives but they do not seem to be experiencing real joy that is found in Christ alone.

Bible Verse: John 16:22 (NKJV)

“Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.”

Reflection and Challenge

In context, this verse is a part of a conversation between Jesus and His twelve disciples. Jesus was trying to prepare them for His crucifixion, but they were not getting it. They wanted more clarity and Jesus understood this very well.

But Jesus also knew that they needed more than just information; they needed their hearts and mind to be prepared to endure the crisis that was coming. They would be very sorrowful but only to have a sudden change of heart. Because God, by His grace and power, will turn their sorrow into joy.

While the crucifixion and all that went with it seemed like a bump in the road or some kind of obstacle to overcome on the way to fulfilling God’s plan, it was exactly how the plan would be fulfilled.

God Transforms our Sorrows into Joy

There’s a principle laid out in John 16:16-22 and that is this: God brings joy to our lives, not by substitution, but by transformation. Jesus’ illustration of the woman giving birth makes this pretty clear. The same baby that caused the pain also caused the joy.

In birth, God does not substitute something else to relieve the mother’s pain. Instead, He uses what is there already but transforms it. And so it is in the Christian life: God takes seemingly impossible situations, adds the miracle of His grace, and transforms trials into triumphs and sorrows into joy.

God transforms our sorrows into joy

As Spurgeon put it, “It is most remarkable and instructive that in their sermons or epistles the apostles do not appear to have spoken of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ with any kind of regret. Although the Gospels mention their distress during the actual occurrence of the crucifixion, we hear of no such grief after the resurrection, and especially after Pentecost.”

Their extreme sorrow of heart was changed to joy of heart after they realized Jesus rose from the grave. When a person gets saved, he receives a completely changed heart and he can actually experience real joy.

Unlike just happiness, joy is a heart attitude. It cannot be artificially manufactured by great circumstances. Read the middle phrase again. “Your heart will rejoice.” Do you see the root word joy in rejoice?

When Christians Lose Their Joy

The last phrase of John 16:22 says, “True born again Christians cannot lose their joy” (paraphrase). But why are there so many Christians who are like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh? No enthusiasm, gloomy, depressed, or just going through the motions.

I realized that I am talking about people’s heart since I can’t see their hearts. Actually, it’s possible. We can tell what’s in peoples’ hearts by the way they live their lives. Because what’s in their hearts is how they live.

Throughout the Bible, it says that what you actually believe in your heart will show. So if we don’t act like we have found real joy in Christ, perhaps God hasn’t changed our hearts in salvation yet.

Going Through the Motions

Don’t just go through the motions because your denomination says to do so. I have been called “happy go lucky” and “carefree,” because I have a joyous song in my heart.

Unbelievers can’t understand because they don’t have that joy. If you have joy in your heart, it will show in worship, praise, lifestyle, attitudes … EVERYTHING.

Please inspect yourself and find out if real joy is in your heart. If it is, praise God. If not, find out why. You won’t regret it.

Waiting for the Coming of Our Lord

The world today does not want Jesus Christ or His church. The world is rejoicing while we are suffering, longing for our Lord to return. In fact, all of creation is suffering “the pains of childbirth” because of sin, awaiting His return (Romans 8:22)

While the immediate application may have been to the sorrowing hearts of the disciples, the ultimate application is to all of God’s people as they await the second coming of Jesus Christ.

To us, it seems like a long wait, but God does not measure time as we do (2 Peter 3:8). And while we are waiting, we must deal with our trials and hurts on the basis of transformation and not substitution, if we expect to mature as Christians.

The Powerful Statement That Can Save You

The Powerful Statement That Can Save You

“It is finished!” This is the last statement of our Lord Jesus when He was crucified in Golgotha two thousand years ago. After uttering this statement, He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit (John 19: 30).

My brothers and sisters, this statement summarizes what Jesus has done for you and for the entire mankind. Indeed, a strong statement that can redeem you from your sins and hell.

It envisions what Jesus did from the beginning He was born here on Earth and what He did for you. Lead time to contemplate this statement and recall what Jesus has broken done to redeem you.

Jesus is the Son of the Highest

Jesus, the Son God, with all humbleness and obedience to God the Father became a human being. Why would a great God become a mortal man?

In the Book of Luke 1:31-32, an angel appeared to Mary and said, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.

John the Baptist described Jesus and he said, “It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” And when He saw Jesus coming toward him, John said, “ Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1: 27- 29).

The Blood Sacrifice

It is written in Hebrews 9:22, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”

Since the Old Testament, blood plays an important role in the lives of people. They see blood as the source of life. In Leviticus 17:14, “for it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life.

On the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), there is an offering of blood sacrifice from the bull and goat for the atonement of sins of the people. Usually, the high priest would sprinkle the blood on the altar.

Even Moses sprinkled half of the blood of oxen on the altar. And the other half on the Israelites (Exodus 24:6-8). Blood sacrifice with burnt offering is also a sweet aroma to the Lord. (Leviticus 1:13).

The Power of the Blood of Jesus

People have become sinners and could not follow God’s commandments. Nobody is righteous in the eyes of God. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

The wage of sin is death. And the blood offering and burned offering are not sufficient to atone for the sins of people. It requires blood that is blameless and spotless and will be offered in a sacrificial way.

For this reason, God gave His only Son Jesus Christ as a sacrificial Lamb for the whole of mankind. (John 3:16) This is how God loves all people and wants everybody to be saved.

Jesus Christ, a God who turned into a man became an everlasting sacrifice for the sins of all people. And through His blood, people can enter into God’s presence and forgiveness.

The Powerful Statement that Can Save You

It is written in Ephesians 1:7, “In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

Jesus also became the High priest. In Hebrews 9:11, “But Christ came as a High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not of this creation.”

Through the blood of Jesus, our consciences were cleansed (Hebrews 9:14). Hence, we could live and think right because of Jesus.

We are delivered from enemies through the blood of Jesus. It is written in Revelation 12:11, “And they have conquered him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”

No Greater Love Than This

When Jesus said, “It is finished!” Have you thought of how much He suffered? He was regarded as a criminal, yet without committing a crime. He was beaten many times, yet without fighting back. He was betrayed, yet He remained loyal.

He was accused as a blasphemer, yet a true Messiah. He was ridiculed yet kept silent. He carried a big cross on His back over the heat of the sun yet endured it. He was nailed on the cross, yet without sin.

Blood gushed forth all over His body. Finally, He said, IT IS FINISHED!

After three days, Jesus has risen. Jesus is victorious, and He conquered the grave. Salvation is now achieved for you and to all mankind.

Closing Thoughts

Nobody can do this for you. You are precious, and God wants you to be saved. This is the perfect and unconditional love of God the Father for all mankind to the point that He gave His only Son Jesus.

Take time to pray and accept the redeeming blood of Jesus for you to be saved. Thank Him for what He has done for you. You may worship Him with this beautiful hymn titled “At the Cross” by Hillsong on the video below.

Be blessed everyone!

How to let Your Light so Shine

How to let Your Light so Shine

Being a dedicated Christian is not easy. Even more so because our society is not a friend to God nor to God’s people. But as a Christian and believer of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are exhorted by the Word of God to let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

In Conflict with the World

Whether we like it or not, conflict exists between us and the world. Why? Because we are different and have different attitudes from the world. As we read the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), we find that they represent an outlook that’s radically different from that of the world.

And here are just some of those differences:

  • The world praises pride, not humility.
  • The world endorses sin, especially if a person gets away with it.
  • The world is at war with God, while God is seeking to reconcile with his enemies and make them his children.

Letting Your Light Shine

The Bible tells us that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), which gives us not only a great compliment because Jesus claimed that title to Himself when He walked this earth (John 8:12; John 9:5) but also a great responsibility to be light-givers.

Our concern should no longer be ourselves and we should stop living only to ourselves. Rather, we must focus on having someone to shine to and do it sincerely and lovingly. It’s high time we live up to what God has called us to do when we received His light.

The purpose of light is to illuminate and expose what is there. To properly put it to use, light must be exposed and allowed to reveal everything that’s hidden in the dark. Therefore, a light hidden under a basket is no longer useful.

Sure, there will always be the strong temptation for Christians to hide their light in order to avoid drawing the world’s attention to them which in effect would “expose them to the ill will of such as hate the light” (Bruce).

Be a Light to Everyone

The idea of a lampstand in Matthew 5:15 gives the sense that Christians are to be intentional about letting their light shine and let them so shine among all men. Jesus was inferring that the light that will shine from us is “good works.”

During Jesus’ ministry, He went about “doing good and healing everyone who was oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38). Jesus simply did good everywhere He went, no questions about that.

What about us? What kind of good works are expected from us? The fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Having these character traits manifested in our life is a great indicator of the intensity of the light that we received from Christ.

How to let Your Light so ShineHave you heard the story of a young boy who refused to go home even after the Sunday church service has long been over? His mother took him with her one Sunday to church because no one was at home to be with him. After the service is over, he didn’t want to go home.

The mother spent hours convincing him but he refused and held on tightly to his chair. This caught the attention of the minister who approached them and asked what was going on. The mother was quick to reply that her son is having his usual tantrums and does not want to go home.

The minister smiled and asked the boy why. The boy replied, “I do not want to go home because at home my mother is treating me badly. Since she is much nicer to me here, I’d rather stay here for good.”

A sad story indeed! Christians are supposed to be light-givers first and foremost to their immediate family. A lamp is put on a lampstand in order to give light to all who are in the house (Matthew 5:15b). Here’s a quote from Spurgeon:

Bible Verse: Let your light shine

We are to be looking for ways to let our light shine in greater and broader ways which should start in our homes. Jesus wants us to live visible lives not for men to see how good we are, nor even see us at all, but in order to draw attention to the beauty of God’s work in us.

The object of our shining before all men is for them to see God and His grace in us and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16b).

Our Story, Our Purpose

Every born again Christian has a story. Every born again Christian has a purpose. Both your story and your purpose are given to you by God. And let me tell you, “No two Christians are the same.”

Many times I have been impressed by how God uses others. In turn becoming jealous and envious of them, rather than praising God. Many times I got critical of other Christians not doing enough for God. I realized, however, that both of these responses are wrong, so wrong.

How to let Your Light so Shine

We have to understand that God has blessed all of us, His children, with a specific story and purpose. That is the light or message God has given to each one of us and we must USE IT.

The demoniac had the opportunity to learn directly from Jesus but Jesus told him to go back to the Gadarene people and tell them what God had done in his life.

The Bottom Line

We can praise God for whatever story and purpose God has given to us individually. There is no purpose to be envious, jealous or critical of other Christians because we are not them. God has a purpose for you to do.

Don’t concern yourself with the purpose of others because that is not your business. Go live your life as a testimony to what God has done in your life. At the same time, expect some oppositions and persecutions as a result of living as God wants you to live – to let your light so shine before all men.


*Acknowledgment:

My sincerest thanks to Michael Heilman, one of the authors/contributors of this website, for helping me come up with this article topic and also with the last 2 parts of the article.

What is the Cost of Our Salvation?

What is the Cost of Our Salvation?

People often say, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” That is sound advice in the world of business where there is always someone – or crowds of someones – trying to separate you from your money. A famous quote by P.T. Barnum, “There’s a sucker born every minute” expresses the starting point of every con artist.

When talking about our salvation, people often question how it is even possible to gain eternal life just by believing in Jesus as stated in John 3:16. Modern readers ask by reflex, “What’s the catch?” There has to be more to it than just believe. It’s a simple fact that nobody gives away anything of great value. There has to be a hidden cost.

John 3:16

Still, many others are offended by the Bible’s offer of free salvation. Why? Because they don’t want anything for which they didn’t work hard and pay dearly.  If God forgives them, they want to be able to say that He had to because they earned it. You know what? That’s a pride thing.

Is God’s Forgiveness Cheap?

Is our salvation really cheap because we can have it for free? If not, how much does it cost? And why did God choose to pay for it? What would He get in return for sacrificing His only begotten Son to die on the cross for man’s redemption?

British Pastor G. Campbell Morgan who spent considerable time in the United States in the period between the two world wars, shared how in one of his evangelistic meetings in England, encountered a coal miner who told him that he would give anything to believe that God would forgive sins, “but I cannot believe He will forgive me if I just turn to Him. It is too cheap.”

In reply, Dr. Morgan said to the man, “You were working in the mine today. How did you get out of the pit?” He answered, “The way I usually do. I got into the cage and was pulled to the top.” “How much did you pay to come out of the pit?” Morgan asked. “I didn’t pay anything.”

“Weren’t you afraid to trust yourself to that cage? Was it not too cheap?” The man replied, “Oh no! It was cheap for me, but it cost the company a lot of money to sink that shaft.”

The Cost of Our Salvation

In today’s world of credit cards and electronic banking, it’s pretty easy to disregard the cost of a lot of things that are rather important. This is exactly true with sin. The society we live in teaches us to enjoy temporary pleasures while ignoring the price that God had to pay for the forgiveness of our sins.

Sin is like credit card; enjoy now, pay later

The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ suffered the following for our sake:

1) Abandonment

In Jesus’ final hours, He was separated from His Father and their fellowship was broken for the very first time since eternity past (Mark 15:34). Some might think that Jesus feared the cross that is why He was in anguish moment before His crucifixion and started to sweat blood.

Jesus was in extreme, deep anguish as He faces the reality of being separated from His Father, resulting in a rare medical condition known as “Hematidrosis.”

2) God’s wrath

At the cross, the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus because of man’s sin. Christ took on upon Himself the penalty for our sins and the condemnation we all so deserved (Romans 5:9; Isaiah 53:5-6).

Although Jesus lived a perfect life of obedience to the Father, all of mankind’s sins were placed upon Him and experienced the fullness of our guilt, shame, and transgressions.

3) Physical pain

During the hours that led to His crucifixion, Jesus was mocked, beaten and humiliated (John 19:1-16). And in His weakened state, He was forced to carry the cross on His shoulders which He was eventually nailed to and died an excruciating death.


*Recommended Resource:

He Died for Me: A Physician’s View of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
By Mark Marinella, M.D., F.A.C.P.

When you meditate on Jesus’ death, do you ever wonder what He really went through? Offering a physician’s view of Christ’s last hours, Dr. Marinella provides historical background on crucifixion as a method of execution; and offers a medical analysis of the physical and physiological pain Jesus endured.


Closing Thoughts

When God offers forgiveness for our sins if we believe in His Son Jesus, that forgiveness did not come cheap. Jesus suffered the agony and shame of the cross as the bearer of the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 2:2). He gave His life in our place. That was a payment of infinite value, and it involved infinite suffering on the part of Jesus.

Jesus Christ our Savior has suffered greatly on our behalf. He shed His blood so we might become part of God’s family (John 1:12), all because He loves us so much and He desires that our broken fellowship with God be restored.

*Read here: What Does John 3:16 Teach About Salvation?

In light of what our salvation cost, we are to give up the pride that insists we don’t want anything we haven’t earned. Instead, let us accept His offer of free salvation and respond to His call for us to live a sacrificial life of service, doing the Father’s business and living to please Him.

Nicodemus Transformed By Jesus

Nicodemus Transformed By Jesus

Do you know how many people have been brought to the point of faith in Christ as a result of reading the account of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3:1-15? Countless! Transformed by Jesus whom he met in the shadow, Nicodemus has been instrumental in bringing countless others to the light.

Who was Nicodemus?

Nicodemus meets with JesusNicodemus was a Pharisee (John 3:1), which means he lived by the strictest possible religious rules. The Pharisees were a group of influential religious Jews who were extremely fastidious about keeping the written Law, every ritual and every little minute kind of tradition that had developed.

In the gospels, the Pharisees are often presented as hypocritical who often opposed Jesus throughout His ministry. They tell people to do things that they don’t do and they put burdens on people on legalism.

But not all of them were hypocrites (as one may infer from Jesus’ comments in Matthew 23), and evidence indicates that Nicodemus was deeply sincere in his quest for truth. And He came to Jesus because he rightly considered Him “a teacher who has come from God” (John 3:2).

The Bible also tells us that Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin (John 3:1; John 7:50-51), which was the highest legal, legislative and judicial body of the Jews. Under the rule of the Romans in the time of Christ, the Jews were allowed a measure of self-rule and the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem was the final court of appeals for matters that have to do with Jewish law and religion. It is this Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem that Nicodemus was a part of.

The Meet Up

John 3:2 says Nicodemus came to speak with Jesus at night. Why at night? Many speculated that Nicodemus was afraid or ashamed to visit Jesus in broad daylight, so he went to see Him at night. It could also be that he came to Jesus by night because he wanted to have a quiet uninterrupted conversation with the new Teacher “that God has sent.”

Apparently, Nicodemus knew there was something special about Jesus and he wanted to know more. Nicodemus probably thought long and hard about what to say to Jesus. Then he started the conversation by calling Jesus “Rabbi,” which is the Jewish word for Teacher.

We can see that Nicodemus has great respect for Jesus because he calls Him “Rabbi,” a title which no doubt is the same title many used to address him, for he was a teacher of the law as well. He further refers to Jesus as a “teacher come from God.”

How did Jesus respond? He ignored Nicodemus’ greeting and spoke directly to his deepest need, which is to enter the kingdom of God. The Bible tells us that Jesus knows the hearts of men (John 2:24-25; Matthew 9:4; Matthew 12:25) so He knew exactly why Nicodemus had come.

Nicodemus needed help; he knew that he had no assurance of getting into heaven even though he has done everything he knew necessary. He has kept every rabbinic traditional law and biblical law he knew to keep. And that is why he has climbed the ladder to the top and became a highly respected teacher of the Old Testament Scriptures.

You must be born again

In essence, he was asking Jesus, “What do I do? What more do I need to do? What things do I need to delete in my life? What am I doing that I need to stop doing? What I am I not doing that I need to do?”And Jesus said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

To many Jews, to be born a Jew was to be born into the kingdom of God. Can you imagine how shocked Nicodemus was when Jesus tells him that his natural birth as a Jew will not save him and that he must be born again?

Jesus is saying, “Nothing you’ve ever done makes any contribution. Everything you are needs to be dead because everything you have done and accomplished is not enough to get you into the kingdom of God. You can’t get to God’s kingdom unless you’re born from above.”

Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus meant by this so he asked, “How can I be born when I am old? I can’t possibly go back inside my mother and be born a second time” (John 3:4 paraphrased).

*Note: The original words used for “born again” can be stated “born from above” (Strong’s concordance).

And Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again” (John 3:5-7).

The Need for Spiritual Rebirth

In His statement, Jesus made it clear that He wasn’t talking about a physical birth, like a baby being born. Rather, He was speaking of a spiritual rebirth – getting a new life from God. To be born again is to have another birth that comes like your first birth, from above. You have to be created by God, again, spiritually.

His entire life, Nicodemus had been trained to believe that he could earn God’s approval by following a list of rules and so it was difficult for him to understand that this new life was given by God. Here’s a man, “the teacher of Israel” (John 3:10), who thinks he has reserved seats on the 50-yard line of heaven and Jesus tells him that he is not getting into heaven without being regenerated.

*Related Article: Is Born Again a New Religion?

In John 3:5-7, Jesus was not teaching that the new birth comes through water baptism as some may interpret it. In the New Testament, baptism is connected with death, not birth, and no amount of physical water can effect a spiritual change in a person.

The emphasis is on believing (John 3:10-21) because salvation comes through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). The evidence of salvation is the witness of the Spirit within (Romans 8:9), and the Spirit enters the life of a person the moment he or she believes.

To be born from above is to be born of God. To be born of God is to be born by the work of His Spirit. Jesus now describes the sovereign saving work of God through His Spirit by using the analogy of the wind (John 3:8). One of the symbols of the Spirit of God in the Bible is the wind or breath (John 20:22; Job 33:4; Acts 2:2).

What does it mean to be born again

Like the wind, the Spirit is invisible but powerful, and you cannot explain or predict its movements. Neither can the wind be controlled. That is the supernatural work of the Spirit in regenerating a person. No one, by his owns works, or manipulation or striving can direct the Spirit in His work.

But when the Spirit brings about the new birth, the effects are evident and we know that it is God’s Spirit at work, unseen and beyond man’s control. This goes to say that neither Nicodemus nor anyone else can save themselves, or anyone else for that matter. Salvation is the sovereign work of God alone, through the Holy Spirit.

Nicodemus must have been so dumb-struck by what Jesus just told him that he cannot conceive nor fathom how Jesus’ words could be true. So he asks in John 3:9, “How can these things be?” And Jesus gives him a gentle rebuke, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not know these things” (John 3:10)?

And Jesus went on to explain to Nicodemus the best news ever told. Nicodemus could be free from all of the rules that he followed. He could be given new life by the Creator of heaven and earth and of everything if only he would place his trust in God’s Son who was standing right in front of him.

The Transformation

As a religious leader among the Jews, Nicodemus came to Jesus representing “we” (John 3:2) but Jesus immediately treated him as “you” (John 3:3). Nicodemus wanted to learn more about Jesus, but he ended up learning more about himself. He came looking for information and Jesus offered him transformation.

After the encounter, Nicodemus must have become a follower of Jesus for we read of his participation in two other memorable moments in Jesus’ life: when he spoke up in defense of Jesus’ innocence in the high council (John 7:45-53) and when he joined Joseph of Arimathea to retrieve Jesus’ body, prepare it for burial, and place it in the tomb (John 19:38-42).

Closing Thoughts

Being religious is not the same as being a Christian. Are you a Christian, or are you just religious? There is a great difference between those who are religious and those who are reborn from above. Many people today could be religious like Nicodemus but our Lord’s words make it clear that we all need to be born again.

Though all human beings have experienced natural birth on earth, if they expect to go to heaven, they must experience a supernatural birth from above. We come to Jesus from many different places and with many different purposes, but wherever and whoever we might be, Jesus lovingly says to each of us, “You must be born again.”

Have you been born from above? Have you accepted Jesus’ offer of a new birth and transformation?


*Recommended Resource: 

The Case for Grace: A Journalist Explores the Evidence of Transformed Lives, Hardcover
By Lee Strobel

In The Case for Grace, Lee Strobel uses his journalistic skill to tell true stories of lives transformed by the grace of God, including his own.

Discover the “how” and “why” behind God’s redeeming love! Traveling 16,470 miles to uncover powerful personal stories from across the world, Strobel offers the experiences of orphans, addicts, wayward children, prisoners, and murderers as examples of God’s amazing grace. Each interview reveals a different aspect of the Lord’s forgiveness –and its transforming power in lives and relationships. 

Condemning Immorality In The Church

Condemning Immorality In The Church

Bible Verse: 1 Corinthians 5:6 & 11 (NKJV)

“Your glorifying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such person.”

Reflection and Challenge

Ouch! Sin infests everything. Like leaven, sin seeps into everything. The church is supposed to be without sin, but even one sin in one person has the tendency to grow throughout.

The same is true in a church. As one person excuses sin, more and more people will excuse it. It sounds to me like God hates sin in the church and wants us to get rid of that sin.

In those days the individuals whom you ate with was significant. Quite often church members ate together. Thus, if you were removed from fellowship and eating together, it resulted in a major barrier in the relationship.

1 Corinthians 5:11 stated several of the sins that God required a break in fellowship. Some people will not like this list at all but it does not matter what people say. It only matters what God’s word says. I have heard that 65% of people today believe cohabitation is acceptable.

That is scary because that 65% must include many Christians. That is, in spite of verses like this that say sex before marriage and cohabiting is a sin, which should not happen to anyone that claims to be a Christian. God commands they should be removed from fellowship. It is a shame that Christians accept any sin. Do you practice or accept this sin? You shouldn’t according to God.

*Related Article: Church Discipline: Correcting Another Believer

This list also included being covetous. Actually, every person commits this sin sometime in their life. The root word implies lust for or a very strong desire for something anything other than God. If we seriously examine ourselves, we all have those things that we set as a priority over pursuing God. These things take our attention off of God. That is sin in God’s eyes. Have you repented for that sin?

Idolatry is the worship of other things. Those things take the place of God in our lives. And yes, it is true, Christians can worship God at church but worship other things the rest of the time. Is God your highest priority all of the time? Or do you focus on other things as well?

Remember, God said Christians that commit these sins should be removed from the fellowship. Do you have pet gods? This includes revilers, drunkards, and extortioners. God does not want sin at your church. It is true you can hide your sin from other believers, that does not mean you can hide it from God. As we examine ourselves is there anything in your life that has not been confessed?

Here is a clip from Paul Washer’s sermon on why Christians must abstain from sexual immorality. He goes on to say that true love for God and for others will lead to sexual purity.

How Fertile Is My Heart?

How Fertile Is My Heart?

Jesus’ parable in Luke 8:4-15 called the parable of the sower is about the receptivity of the human heart. Matthew called this “the parable about the farmer planting seeds” (Matthew 13:18 NLT), but it could also be called the parable of the types of soil.”

The human heart is like the soil in this parable: If it is prepared properly, it becomes fertile and can receive the seed of the Word of God and produce a fruitful harvest. Now, the question you may want to ask yourself is: “How fertile is my heart?”

Hearing Means Listening

Notice how the word “hear” is used several times in Luke 8:11-15. It means much more than simply listening to the words. “Hearing” means listening with spiritual understanding and receptivity. It is a serious thing to hear and understand the Word of God because this puts on us the obligation to share that Word with others.

Everyone who receives the seed then becomes a sower, a light bearer, and a transmitter of God’s truth (1 Thessalonians 1:5-8). If we keep it to ourselves, we will love it, but if we will share it, we will receive more.

4 Different Kinds of Hearts

In the parable, Jesus described 4 different kinds of hearts, 3 of which did not produce any fruit. Let us not forget that the proof of salvation is fruit and not merely hearing the Word or making a profession of faith in Christ. Jesus had made that very clear in His “Sermon on the Mount” in Luke 6:43-45. (See also Matthew 7:15-20.)

A. The hard soil – Luke 8:5, 12

This soil represents the person who hears the Word but immediately allows the devil to snatch the seed away. How did the heart become hard? The “footpath” or “wayside” was the path that ran through the common field, separating the plots, and the foot traffic hardened the soil.

“Whatever goes into the ear or eye finally enters the heart, so be careful who you allow walking on your heart.”

B. The shallow (rocky) soil – Luke 8:6, 13

This soil illustrates the emotional hearer who quickly responds to the message, but his interest wanes and he does not continue (see John 8:31-32). In many parts of the Holy Land, you find a substratum of limestone covered with a thin layer of soil. The shoot can grow up, but the roots cannot go down, and the sun withers the rootless plant.

*Read here: The Christian’s Response to Trials

The sun represents the testing that comes to all professing believers to prove their faith. Sun is good for plants if they have roots. Persecution can deepen the roots of a true Christian, but it only exposes the shallowness of the false Christian.

C. The crowded (thorny) soil – Luke 8:7, 14

This soil illustrates the person who does not repent and “weed out” the things that hinder the harvest. There is enough soil so the roots can go down, but not enough room for the plant to grow up and produce fruit. The plant is crowded out and the fruit is choked.

“Cares, riches, and the pleasures of this life” are like weeds in a garden that keep the soil from being fruitful. The person with a “crowded heart” comes closest to salvation, but he still does not bring forth “fruit to perfection.”

D. The good (fertile) soil – Luke 8:8, 15

This soil alone is fruitful. It illustrates the individual who hears the Word, understands it, receives it within, is truly saved, and proves it by patiently producing fruit (see 1 Thessalonians 2:13 & 1 Peter 1:22-25).

*Not everybody produces the same amount of fruit (Matthew 13:8), but all true believers will produce some fruit as evidence of spiritual life. That fruit may include winning others to Christ (Romans 1:13), money given to God’s work (Romans 15:25-28), good works (Colossians 1:10, Christian character (Galatians 5:22-23), and praise to the Lord (Hebrews 13:15).

Closing Thoughts

Why compare God’s word to seed? Because the Word is “alive and powerful” (Hebrews 4:1). Unlike human words, the Word of God has life in it, and that life will be imparted to those who will believe.

When you consider how much teaching, preaching, and witnessing goes on in the course of a month or a year, you wonder why there is such a small harvest. The fault does not lie with the sower or the seed. The problem is with the soil – the human heart.

In order for the truth of God to take root in the heart, be cultivated, and be permitted to bear fruit, the heart must, first of all, be fertile. Sadly, many human hearts will not submit to God, repent and receive the word and be saved.

To which category does your heart belong? Hard, shallow, crowded or good? And if you say your heart is good or fertile, how fertile is it?


*Create your own Christian website for free like I did and share the love of God to the world, His goodness and faithfulness in your life. My recommended training platform will show you how to do that step by step.

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What Does John 3:16 Teach About Salvation?

What Does John 3:16 Teach About Salvation?

John 3:16 is a familiar verse about salvation which most Christians often quote without considering what it really teaches about salvation. Of the doctrines that are important for us to master, salvation is one of the most important.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

So let us take a look at what the text actually teaches.

The Nature of God’s Love

In our text, God’s love is the ultimate cause of salvation. The love that motivated God to create us is also what motivated Him to save and restore us to a positive relationship with Him.

When man rebelled against God by choosing to willfully disobey Him, God was in no way morally obligated to save him, yet He did because of love. We must understand that God is not full of love, He is love. It is because of love that the Father gave His Son for the world.

“Realizing how much the Father loves the Son helps us understand His love for the world.”

Have you ever stopped to wonder why God would send His beloved Son, whom He loved infinitely and eternally, to die on the cross for us? Why would God even bother to save a world that rebelled against Him?

God’s love is the only explanation! God is love but He is also just. There was no way God would just let sin slide. No one and nothing else will be able to satisfy God’s justice but because God is love, He will not also let man suffer eternally in hell. God made a way for man to be reconciled back to Him because He is love.

But we will never truly understand the depths of God’s love for us and the world until we realize how much the Father loves the son. The mutual love between the Father and the Son is repeatedly emphasized in the gospel of John (John 3:35; John 10:17; John 14:31 & John 17: 24).

“The cross makes love believable.”

The love that John describes reveals an intimate relationship, an affection expressed in self-giving sacrifice. To save the world He loved, God was willing to endure the pain of losing His Son.

Parents and children who love each other can relate to John’s description of divine love, even though our love can never be a shadow of the mutual love between the Father and the Son. In the face of what God sacrificed, to doubt the love of God for us is unbelief that wounds His heart.

The Meaning of the World

The world is the object of salvation. God not only loved His obedient Son, but also the world that did not know Him and opposed Him. God’s love for the world is a constant reminder for us that He wants everyone to believe in Jesus and receive salvation (2 Peter 3:9).

However, there are different interpretations from Bible teachers, scholars and denominations as to who are embodied in the “world.” Some say that God’s special love only is for Israel and for the righteous.

But God loved everyone. There is no group of people or any individual beyond the pale of God’s love. Jesus shed His blood for all!

“Salvation is for whoever believes.”

However, just because God gave His Son for the world does not mean everyone is automatically saved; it means salvation was made available for anyone. The Bible emphasizes that God’s purpose in sending His Son was not to condemn the world because it was already condemned (John 3:17).

God sent His Son to save the world. Jesus became the sacrifice that appeased God’s anger for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2). Salvation is given freely for “whoever believes,” not just for the elect or the nation of Israel (Galatians 3:28).

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9

How God Gave His Son

Man’s salvation is motivated by the love of God, but it was giving His Son that made it available. God did not simply say abstractly, “I love you.” He provided the ultimate demonstration of love by giving His own Son to die on the cross. This is how “God loved the world.”

It’s February, commonly called “love month.” It’s when everybody likes to speak of love. But love means different things to different people and often times; true love in the romantic sense turns out to be not so true after all.

“The best definition of love anytime, anywhere is still found in the Bible.”

If you’re looking for the best definition and illustration of love anytime, anywhere, it is found in the Bible. The greatest love story ever told is how God gave His only begotten Son to suffer and die on the cross in order to make salvation available to whoever believes.

Who is God’s only Begotten Son?

The term “one and only Son” (John 3:16 NIV) was especially appropriate for a particularly beloved child, normally one’s only child. It’s important to note that this phrase is used to highlight Abraham’s obedience to God in his willingness to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac (Genesis 22:15-16).

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1

John thinks of God’s Son in John 3:16 in terms of the eternal relationship that Jesus has with the Father. In his opening prologue (John 1:1), John emphasized that Jesus is God and yet distinct from the Father.

In other words, Jesus is God the Son, not the Father. Likewise, toward the end of John’s gospel, Thomas confesses Jesus as his Lord and his God (John 20:28).

And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” – John 20:28

It is important to reiterate the point of “one and only Son” or “only begotten Son” in John 3:16. The one whom God gave was His “one and only Son.” John highlights the immeasurable love God had for the world in giving His beloved Son Jesus.

What Saving Faith Involves

Some are offering an appealing message that everyone will be saved. However, John 3:18 says that people stand under judgment until they put their trust in God’s only begotten Son.

Yes, God has provided the gift of salvation for all and it’s free, yet it does not mean that individual’s salvation is automatic. John 3:16 declares that people must still receive God’s gift; they must “believe” which means they must depend on the gift.

“A true, saving faith must persevere to the end.”

Another appealing idea is that if anyone believes at any moment, he will be saved whether or not he continues to believe in Jesus. But the present tense used for “believes” in the text (John 3:16) implies continuing faith. Faith must persevere to the end if it is true, saving faith.

In Whom Saving Faith Must Rest

Saving faith as described in John 3:16 is “believing in Him”– in Jesus as God’s Son and as God. Saving faith affirms more than Jesus as a mere prophet, miracle worker or God’s messenger.

Throughout the gospel, Jesus reveals His identity often in explicit “I am” statements (John 8:24, 58; John 10:11; John 15:1) and climaxes with Thomas’ recognition that Jesus is Lord and God (John 20:28).

“Saving faith has a specific content.”

Different New Testament passages talk about salvation in different ways but all of them share a common thread: we come to God only through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Jesus has already paid the price in full; now people must respond. No church or religion can save you, only Jesus Christ can.

What Eternal Life Means

Eternal life is given to “whoever believes.” But what is eternal life? Jesus talked with Nicodemus shortly before John 3:16 about new birth which is the beginning of a new life – eternal life. Romans 6:23 also promises eternal life in Christ Jesus as God’s gift.

Although eternal life is commonly perceived as the life of the coming world expected after the resurrection of the dead in the future, eternal life is a present tense possession (John 3:36). It’s not something that begins only when we get to heaven.

“Eternal life is knowing God.”

John 17:3 defines eternal life as “knowing God.” But the word “know” here is speaking of much more than intellectual knowledge. When Jesus said eternal life is “knowing God,” He was speaking of having an intimate, close, personal relationship with God.

“True eternal life begins with a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.”

If you have received forgiveness of your sins and received Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life but you’re just waiting to get to heaven to start living eternal life, then you’re missing the point of salvation.

If you have been saved by grace through your faith in the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 2:8), you have actually already begun eternal life. Live it to the full and experience the life of the coming age as you live in relationship with God and with fellow believers under the true and rightful Lord of humanity, our Creator and Savior Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

If you died today, would you go to heaven or hell? This is the most important question to which a person needs to know the answer. In the beginning, man was good. Man was created by God in His own image as the crowning work of His creation (Genesis 1:27).

But by his free choice, man sinned against God. And every person afterward inherited a nature and an environment inclined toward sin (Romans 3:23). How does God deal with sin?

Salvation is God’s way of forgiving sin and providing a means for man to receive eternal life now and in heaven. On the cross, Jesus Christ made the “once for all” sacrifice for man’s sin and its penalty. This salvation was and is offered to everyone on God’s own initiative, as an expression of His love for sinners.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” – John 1:12

Why not receive salvation today by believing in Jesus and putting your faith in what He has done for you on the cross of Calvary? You no longer have to rely on your good deeds to save you, but on the gift of eternal life that God is offering through Jesus Christ because of His great love.

 

Death Penalty for Sin, Eternal Life In Christ

Death Penalty for Sin, Eternal Life In Christ

One Bible verse that is always quoted every time the Gospel is shared is Romans 6:23. This verse says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Looking at this verse more closely made me realize one thing, and that is, we get exactly what we deserve! We receive death as penalty for our sins. “Wages” refers to a payment. When a person works, he receives a payment for his work. In the verse quoted above, it means that those whose work is “sin” receive the payment of death.

In today’s article, I would like us to look into the three important ingredients of the above mentioned text namely: SIN, DEATH and ETERNAL LIFE.

Sin: What is it? When, where and how did it start?

The Bible defines sin as the “transgression or breaking of the law” (1 John 3:4 KJV); it is rebellion against God’s will (Deuteronomy 6:23; Joshua 1:18), an act of revolution and anarchy against God’s righteous government.

Sin started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve deliberately disobeyed God. We read in Genesis 2:15-17 that God put the man (Adam) He created in the Garden of Eden and instructs him that he is free to eat from any tree in the garden except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because in that day that he will eat of it he will surely die.

Not long after that in Genesis 3:1-6, we read the account of the fall of man as Adam gave in to Eve’s suggestion to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that God specifically forbade and committed the sin of disobedience. And because Adam stood as the representative of the human race, his sin was imputed, reckoned and imparted to all future generations (Romans 5:12). The result is that we have all sinned and are under the judgment of God (Romans 3:23).

We were all born into this world spiritually dead and that’s why we need to be born again as Jesus explicitly said in John 3:3-5 in his conversation with Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin.

Death: The punishment for sin

What is death? It is very important we understand that death is never associated with the concept of non-existence. Instead, death always carries the idea of separation – whether in a physical or a spiritual sense.

2 Kinds of Death:

1) Spiritual death – the state of being separated from fellowship with God as a result of sin.

2) Physical death – separation between the soul and body.

Did Adam and Eve die spiritually or physically? Or both? Genesis 3:23-24 tells us that the Lord banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and so their fellowship with God was cut off. Clearly, Adam and Eve died a spiritual death. Take note that before the fall, God had a close, intimate relationship with Adam. God would come down to the Garden of Eden to fellowship with him. But that relationship was not only tainted but broken as a result of sin.

Some Bible scholars claim that Adam and Eve did not only experience spiritual death but they also died physically that day. Yes, Adam went on to live for another 930 years after being banished from the Garden of Eden, but “with the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). Assuming that Adam was 70 years old at the time of the fall, add to that 930 years for a total of a thousand years which is like one day to the Lord.Death Penalty for Sin Eternal Life in Christ.

Do you ever wonder why such a severe penalty for merely having an appetite for a fruit that looked so enticing? Why did God impose the death penalty for the sin of having an appetite for a forbidden fruit? It should be noted that the motive for Adam and Eve’s disobedience was more than just appetite, but the ambition to be “like God” (Genesis 3:4-6). Sounds familiar? It’s the same sin Lucifer committed that resulted to his fall from heaven (Isaiah 14:12-14 & Ezekiel 28:12-18).

Eternal Life in Christ: God’s gift

Going back to Romans 6:23, do you notice how the bad news comes first while the good news comes last? Often times in our conversation, we always deliver the bad news first so that we can end on a good note. Like when we go to the doctor and he says he’s got bad news and good news. Without even asking which one we want to hear first, he will go on to tell us the bad news first and then follow it up with the good news. Now why is that? Because although we need  to be aware of the reality of the bad news, he wants us to focus on the good news.

That’s exactly what the apostle Paul was doing here when he wrote to the Roman Church. Paul mentions a problem (bad news) and then introduces a solution (good news). If the bad news is death as the consequence of sin, the good news is the gift of God which is eternal life in Christ Jesus.

But what is eternal life? Is it “living forever?” Does having eternal mean we get to “live forever?” No, because no one ceases to exist when they die! Everyone gets to live forever. The only difference is the location; everyone gets to live forever in either heaven or hell.

What then is eternal life? John 3:36 NIV says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” Also in John 3:16, the very heart of the Bible, it says that the reason Jesus came to live and die was for us to have eternal life. Do you see in these verses that eternal life is a present-tense possession?

Death Penalty for Sin Eternal Life in Christ.

Eternal life is not something that begins only when we get to heaven. Sadly, many Christians mistakenly assume that the goal of salvation is the forgiveness of sin to avoid hell. Sure, not perishing in hell is an important part of what Jesus came to do. But there’s a lot more to our salvation than getting our sins forgiven so we can be with God in heaven instead of hell.

As mentioned earlier, spiritual death is separation from God that came about as a result of sin. Sin which was a barrier that stood between man and God had to be removed and that’s exactly what Jesus came to accomplish. So now, sin is no longer standing between us and God because we have become a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Jesus defined eternal life in John 17:3 as “knowing God.” But what does the Bible mean exactly by the word “know?” Let’s look at one particular Bible verse where the word “know” is used in the same way as in John 17:3. Genesis 4:1 says “Adam knew his wife …” Adam didn’t just know Eve intellectually. He had an intimate, personal experience with her. This was speaking of a relationship between a man and a woman in the most intimate way possible.

Death Penalty for Sin Eternal Life in Christ.

So when Jesus said eternal life was knowing God, He was speaking of having an intimate, close personal relationship with Him and His Father which we can have right now. We do not have to wait for heaven to be able to enjoy eternal life. Jesus did not come to die so you won’t go to hell. Jesus died for our sins in order to have our broken relationship with God restored as to how it was before sin entered the world.

“True eternal life begins with a relationship with the Lord.”

Conclusion

Romans 6:23 addresses both the consequences of sin and the deliverance from it. The wages (just payment) for sin is death. However, God has given us a gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. This gift is not something earned or deserved, but is given freely. The Bible is clear that Jesus is the only way to be free from the bondage of sin and death and to the Father (John 14:6).

Sure, Adam’s disobedience has put everyone under God’s curse and due to receive the death penalty for that sin, but Jesus’ obedience made us righteous (Romans 5:18-20) in the sight of God and can now receive His gift of eternal life.

Do you want to receive God’s gift of eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord? Do you acknowledge that you are a sinner in need of a Savior? Would you like to have a personal, intimate relationship with God, declared righteous by God and not suffer death penalty for your sin? God has set before you today life and death and He wants you to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:15 & Deuteronomy 30:19).

The choice is yours!


Recommended Resource: Knowing God By J.I. Packer

J. I. Packer’s Knowing God has become a classic of the Christian faith. Why? While it gives us information about God with clarity and grace, it does much more — it aids us in actually knowing Him, in building our relationship with Him, and helps draw us closer to Him in love and worship. This 20th anniversary edition of Packer’s classic has new Americanized text, reader-friendly type, and a new preface. Study guide not included.

 

 

 

 

Genuine Faith: The Faith that Saves

Genuine Faith: The Faith that Saves

How many times have you actually heard people say, “We are saved by faith alone and not by works so all we have to do is believe in order to be saved? Yes, you heard it right! Just believe and you are saved.” But is that really what the Bible teaches? That we just have to believe and we are saved? Sounds pretty easy right? Considering that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

And what’s the payment for our sins? Death (Romans 6:23)! This Bible verse is referring to spiritual death which means separation from God. Every man born after Adam has inherited a sin nature and so we all have been alienated from God and are destined to suffer for eternity.

If salvation is just a matter of believing, in what should we believe? Or whom should we believe? Years ago, a close friend and relative of mine confided in me how she has struggled with this for quite sometime. She just couldn’t comprehend how God could find it very easy for us to obtain salvation. Is God’s salvation that cheap? Surely not!

We are not saved by believing in some fairy tale that people have made up. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are saved by putting our trust in what the Lord Jesus has accomplished for us when He suffered and died, and when He was raised to life to conquer death once and for all.

Faith Defined

So what is faith? The dictionary defines faith as belief, trust, fidelity, or loyalty to a creed or religion. The Bible, however, defines faith as the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

There are 2 kinds of faith in regard to salvation: head belief & heart belief

1. Head belief – a knowledge of the historical Christ and a general acceptance of the Bible.

Personal saving faith, as Scripture defines it, involves more than mere knowledge. Of course, it is necessary for us to have some knowledge of who Christ is and what He has done. But knowledge about the facts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is not enough because many people who know the facts may still rebel against them or dislike them.

Paul tell us in the book of Romans 8:32 that many people know God’s laws but dislike them. Even the demons know who God is and know the facts about Jesus’ life and saving works (James 2:19). But that knowledge certainly does not mean that the demons are saved.

2. Heart belief – faith from the heart that causes the person to act on his faith.

In addition to knowledge of the facts of the Gospel and the approval of those facts, in order to be saved, we must make a decision to depend on Jesus to save us. We then move from being an interested observer of the facts of salvation and the teachings of the Scriptures to being someone who enters into a new relationship with Jesus Christ as a living person. True faith in Christ is believing to the extent of receiving Christ as personal Lord and Savior (John 1:12).

Neither knowledge nor assent is true faith; true faith or saving faith involves appropriation. Saving faith is not just belief in facts but personal trust in Jesus to save us. Because saving faith as defined by the Word of God involves personal trust. The word “trust” is a better word to use in contemporary culture than the word “faith” or “belief.”

Acts 16:31 says, “And they said, ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ … “; “on” not “in”. If we are to use an illustration, let’s say a sick man has a bottle of medicine. He believes in the medicine, that if taken he would recover. But if he believes on the medicine, he will act on his belief and actually take the medicine.

Faith is not the blind act of the soul. Instead, faith in God rests upon the best evidence, the infallible Word of God. Faith is trust in the God of the Scriptures and in Jesus Christ whom He has sent, which receives Him as Savior and Lord and impels loving obedience and good works. The faith that saves is a personal trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Works as Evidence of a Genuine Faith

So how can we say that our faith is real or genuine? James, the Lord’s brother, says works are the evidence of a genuine faith (James 2:14). We do not add works to faith in order to be saved but genuine faith results in good works because faith without works is dead.

No, James is not in any way contradicting the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith. While Paul’s letters to the Romans and Galatians places emphasis on justification by faith in order to be saved, James on the other hand while not denying the necessity of faith in order to be saved, was insisting that genuine faith must produce works.

It should be noted that Paul’s focus were Gentile believers being influenced by Judaizers (Jews who have converted to Christianity) telling them they had to keep the O.T. Law to be justified, while James was addressing believers who claim to have faith but are not displaying the characteristics of genuine faith. James is protesting the hypocrisy of pretending to have faith without demonstrating it in works (James 2:18).

Genuine Faith: The faith that saves

James is not saying that works is at odds with faith. There can be no “justification by works” because no one can do good works unless he has already faith (trust) in God. James doesn’t mean that faith can exist without works, but any faith that doesn’t lead to works is dead; in other words, it is no faith at all (James 2:26).

Christians are not commanded to work for the benefit of others in need instead of trusting in Christ, or in addition to placing faith in Christ. Christians are expected to work for the benefit of others in need as a result of their faith in Christ.

Conclusion

What kind of faith saves? Faith that is genuine, faith that is living and produces good works. James 2:15-16 talks about the futility of words without deeds. Like faith without works, words without deeds are empty and meaningless. Faith and works are inseparable.

Faith alone saves us but it must be a living, genuine faith. Genuine faith will produce good works; it will be accompanied by action. James 2:17 says we can tell if faith is alive by seeing if it is accompanied by works, and if it does not have works it is dead, for dead faith produces nothing!

Genuine faith always leads to practical action. We cannot divide the world into practical and spiritual, for the spiritual is practical. James 2:22 says that Abraham’s faith was active along with his works. Therefore, we can never say, “I believe in Jesus and I go to church, but I keep my personal faith out of my works.” James 2:24 challenges us to work out our commitment to Christ in our daily activities.

Every day, we have opportunities to meet the needs of people we work for and among. It can be as simple as making sure a confused customer finds the right item for their need or noticing that a new co-worker needs help but is afraid to ask. James urges us to take special concern for those who are vulnerable or marginalized, and we may need to practice noticing who these people are at our places of work.

 

 


Recommended Resource: A Deeper Look at James: Faith That Works

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